Midlife Entrepreneurs Have a Lot of Life Left in Them
They have made an impact over the years, but what is next? It's their turn to fund and lead the next generation of innovation.
As many of Generation X and some early Millennials are moving into midlife, they are breaking the barriers our Baby Boomer teachers told us would never be possible. As Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are showing us, the sky is no longer the limit. Thanks to social media and smartphones we no longer need to know all the information by heart, and we have a calculator in our pocket at all times!
Midlife entrepreneurs are also no longer seen as the young innovative kids that are going to change the world. Generation Z is quickly becoming the new kids on the block, and we can only imagine what Generation Alpha has in store.
All that being said, where the Baby Boomers came to the aid of younger entrepreneurs, it’s the midlife entrepreneurs' turn to fund and lead the next generation of innovation. A few key things will make a difference in our impact.
Entrepreneurship with empathy will be key
Lifelong entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk and Jessie Itzler see things a bit differently than their predecessors. They understand mindset and money go hand in hand. Instead of being cut-throat in business, how do we go after the goal together, so everyone wins. Now this is not saying business is not competitive, but we now realize it does not have to be a one-man game, the team and mental health is key.
A knowledge and lack of fear when it comes to technology is the new baseline
Midlife entrepreneurs also grew up with the best of both worlds. We did not always have technology at our fingertips, or if we did it was new and the playing field was level. The baby boomer generation had a lack of knowledge with technology, and in many ways a fear. If you ever helped your Mom set up her email on her new computer, you know this feeling. This comfort with technology, and knowing we can’t break it, will allow us to be open to new ideas and more importantly, we know what will and won’t work based on our pioneer experiences.
Having spent time in the boardroom is an advantage
In the post-Covid era we also see many new midlife entrepreneurs leaving corporate America. As they enter the entrepreneurial community, they come with 20-plus years of experience. They have climbed the corporate ladders, broken the glass ceilings and saw the holes that exists in today’s giants. One of the biggest advantages that exists for this group is they are great at building teams. They are able to bring their teams with them as they were also caught up in the same layoffs and downsizing. Many entrepreneurs could benefit from this type of partnership as it will allow them to grow and scale faster.
They have less to prove and know what success really is
The midlife entrepreneur has most likely already bought their dream home, car and other possessions. They also tend to have a family and are a bit more settled down. Now some may say this makes them less hungry to achieve their goals, but it is more on the side of clarity. They know what they need and don’t need. They really have no one to impress anymore and are ready to set goals for what is important. Sure, it can still be a bigger house and nice car, but more likely it is because they desire a certain lifestyle. This could mean more time with their kids, or more traveling with their spouse due to becoming empty nesters. Also, they have the capital to sometimes fund their entrepreneurial venture themselves. Whether it's dipping into a 401k or they have enough money saved up to take their side hustle to the next level.
One more thing, midlife entrepreneurs will lead the next wave of female entrepreneurs
We started this talking about some great male entrepreneurs, but let’s not forget the greats like Sarah Blakely and Lori Greiner who are leading the way for female entrepreneurs. According to census.gov, women-owned businesses reported nearly $1.8 trillion in sales, shipments, receipts or revenue and employed over 10.1 million workers with an annual payroll of $388.1 billion. Many midlife female entrepreneurs are tired of the corporate structure and are heading out on their own. When the glass ceiling proves difficult, they are not worried about breaking it, they build their own building and bring many other like-minded people along with them. Some of the most successful, motivated and humble entrepreneurs I have coached and work with are female. Their desire to help create a great business and create an amazing culture is second to none!
The next step does not depend on when you were born, but who you work with
No matter when you were born, as an entrepreneur one thing is certain — having a diverse and driven team will take you to the next level. The vast experiences from Baby Boomers to Generation Alpha can help your business grow. The key thing is to take a look at your team and ask, have we tapped into the value midlife entrepreneurs can bring us? If you are a midlife entrepreneur on the fence, the real question is, what are you waiting for? This is your time, go out there and make it happen!
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor