Sunday, June 16, 2013

Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship: Retirees are Transitioning to Entrepreneurship

Research shows that retirees are transitioning from the workplace to creating and managing their own businesses. Research also shows that many retirees are opting, not to stop working after retiring but to find employment working at another place, in a part-time position. They hope that with these options, they will be able to enjoy the joy and happiness of engaging in some level of leisure. Some of them indicated that they will lie to get into their own businesses where they can utilize their skills and knowledge gained throughout the years. Many suggest that they would get into consulting. This new social phenomenon does require some examination because it is having an impact on entrepreneurship and the emergence of a new type of entrepreneurs. With a growing population of retiree in the next 5 years or so, there would be an influx of the "Zen entrepreneurs" or "senior- preneur" emerging.

According to the article: Boomers Turn to Entrepreneurship in Retirement, Tony, Wanless, 2013

With unemployment high and economic growth low for the foreseeable future, new-business creation is a bright spot on a gloomy employment horizon for older people. A survey sponsored by AARP in 2011 indicated that 80 percent of the Baby Boomers surveyed intend to continue working after leaving their regular career jobs. (Tony, Wanless, 2013)

Retirees are realizing that the benefit packages that they received at the end of their employ may not be sufficient to carry them into their "winter years" and they would have to live in poverty in their latter years. In order to maintain a decent life style with sufficient health care, many are opting to be entrepreneurs or to engage in a self employed activity. The upsurge of "retiree" entrepreneurs is not yet a trend that you see occurring in the underdeveloped and developing parts of the world; at least it is not spoken or written about, but it is also a social phenomena taking place and has been a while. However it is a phenomenon that is emerging in the United States and will certainly take place in the other parts of the world soon.

From observation, I have seen this phenomenon gradually taking place in Trinidad and Tobago. I have seen in the past 10 to 15 years where people retired, and engaged in an "entrepreneurial activity" to substitute their income. Health problems, outstanding loans that they might have taken to support an adult child, or an outstanding loan that they have acquired for travelling, refurbishing their homes or purchasing a car, are some of the factors responsible and are driving the emergence of entrepreneurs among retirees.

In some instances, women in particular, when they become widows also engage in a "mini business activities" selling from in front their homes on a table top. Some of these "mini business activities" they engage in, are plant sales, fruits and vegetables, food, cakes, drops, sugar-cakes, roti and other Indian delicacies, and ice creams, to list some of the things that they do. Note, however, most of these activities are conducted without a legitimate business name or license.

According to Gangaram and De Noble, 2003:

Self-employment activities can be as simple as forming one's own consulting practice, or as complex as creating a new business organization either in related or unrelated markets. Such activities can easily run counter to the prevailing labour economics view of the part-time, less stressful nature of the bridge situation.

To make the transition from being employed for many years, to transitioning to their own business, many people rely upon the skills, knowledge; together with their expertise, to create a business that they already have a lot of "know how." Many of them also have a large following, having built relationships with others in the workplace. So having these two assets, retirees are launching their businesses and with great success, I might say.

The movement of retirees into entrepreneurship is fast becoming a social phenomenon in Canada. According to the article published by CDI College, Entrepreneurship Booming in Canada, published by CDI College, “More Canadian workers are turning to entrepreneurship in their later years, with more than half of the baby boomer population starting or seriously considering opening their own small business.”

The article also reports that “baby boomers” are drawn to business because of the “independence associated to being self-employed, the opportunity to make more money and the desire to gain personal achievement. The article also points out that 67% of would-be senior entrepreneurs are considering business ventures unrelated to their current line of work. While there is some risk involved with stepping outside of a comfort zone, gaining a knowledge base through education, accessing courses from local colleges and universities.


  1. Early Retiree as the next Generation of Entrepreneur written by Singh, Gangaram & De Noble, Alec. Academic Journal article from Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, Vol. 27, NO 3 Year – Spring 2003
  2. Wanless, Tony. Boomers Turn to Entrepreneurship in Retirement Financial Post, Dec, 06, 25, 2013.

Copyright © 2013 Copyright by Dr. Cheryl Cottle, Cottle’s Professional Consulting All Rights Reserve.

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