It’s common to think that the most successful start-ups are run by young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs, but that’s not always the case. In fact, many new entrepreneurs are coming from an older age demographic and a significant number of them are women. That’s right, successful women are starting businesses, even after the age of 50. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average age of business start-up founders is 45 — which means many women over the age of 50 are launching new business ventures. So, what makes the older woman an outstanding entrepreneur? Is it because she has more life experience than her young, keen counterpart? Or is it because she is willing to take on greater risks? Whatever the reason may be, it’s clear that increasingly women are driving businesses and older women are often right at the helm.
Women are becoming increasingly more accomplished and engaged in careers that they love in recent years. Many are leaving unrewarding day jobs to start second careers as entrepreneurs, while others are becoming entrepreneurs to follow their passion as their children grow and become more independent. According to Tony Robbins, some of the most successful leadership qualities required in our current economy are accountability, confidence, focus, resilience, positivity, persistence, strength and courage, to name a few. Many of these characteristics tend to develop later in life based on years of life experiences. While younger entrepreneurs are generally more adept at inventing new technology or making bold moves, their older counterparts commonly have more wisdom, financial capital and business connections. For the older entrepreneur, their time and experience in business helps them to listen and look for potential customers. This also makes it easier for them to objectively evaluate their business’ potential before starting out on their own. Many older women have also built expertise, contacts and capital to grow their business and chart a successful path.
Women over 50 have key advantages when it comes to starting their own business in comparison to younger women – namely more time and energy to devote to their craft. Midlife tends to be a time when a woman’s domestic responsibilities begin to ease in comparison to younger women who are just starting or potentially thinking about starting their families. While many steps have been made to share domestic responsibilities between men and women, many of these tasks still fall disproportionately on women’s shoulders, and younger women are experiencing this squeeze even more than middle age or older women. Women in midlife have more time to devote to their work and often have the life experience and education to clearly see what is important to them and others in business.
Women with years of life experience and local connections are especially making a name for themselves in their own communities. Women in rural areas in particular are contributing to the development of their local economy. This includes sourcing local materials, employing people from their own region, and using local businesses to sell or promote their products and services. And because the older demographic is growing faster than any other age group, these women entrepreneurs identify with a large segment of the market in which they are working.
If you were ever thinking of starting your own business, clearly now is the time. Whether you are just out of college or in the beginning stages of your second career, becoming an entrepreneur can be a lucrative way to demonstrate your passion and vision. The older entrepreneur in particular carries with them a broad knowledge base, extensive management experience and a wide network of professional contacts. For older women running their own businesses, age and experience provide a competitive advantage over their younger counterparts. It just goes to show that when it comes to being a “boss babe” age really is just a number.