A growing number of older Australians are taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, fed up with being unable to secure employment or struggle to adapt to life in retirement.
Marlene Krasovitsky from The Benevolent Society spoke to Starts at 60 about the “growing cohort” of so-called Seniorpreneurs across Australia, revealing that people are taking the risk and going into business for the first time in their lives in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
“It seems to be a growing cohort across Australia,” Marlene told us. “Older people are becoming entrepreneurs for the first time in their lives. [They’re] taking the risk and setting up a business and are doing quite well.
“A number of small-scale networks of ‘seniorpreneurs’ have been set up by people themselves, to support and encourage each other and to just give each other advice. Because often these individuals don’t have a background in business or whatever it is.”
While setting up your own business might be a sure fire way to land yourself a job, Marlene stressed that it isn’t a suitable option for everyone, adding: “Of course, entrepreneurship assumes some money, some capital and not everyone is in that position by a long shot.”
Several Starts at 60 readers have set up shop in their 60s, telling us they were spurred into action after being made redundant or struggling to find suitable work, despite decades of knowledge and experience in their respective industries.
One such person is Luba Zubaszenko who took matters into her own hands and launched her own cleaning business in her 60s. The inspirational entrepreneur told us she decided to “create her own work” after struggling to find employment.
“There is always a service that needs fulfilling- use your imagination!” she said. “Do not give your power away and be determined by the system, which treats older people like use-by-date articles.
“Open your minds, you can do pet sitting. I do house cleaning, there are heaps of retirees that need home service. It’s not hard and very rewarding.”
As the number of senior entrepreneurs continues to grow, network groups are popping up across the country such as ‘The Seniorpreneurs’ which was set up by Jeff Gilling two years ago to support the increasing number of older Australians choosing to take the leap into business ownership by providing a network where they can exchange ideas and connect with likeminded people and mentors.
Jeff told Starts at 60 that “people have been told a lie for the past 40 or 50 years” when it comes to retiring at the age of 60, describing it as an “artificial construct”.
“There’s a misconception that entrepreneurship is a young person’s game,” he said. “When you look at what older people have got, a lot of them have time, they’ve certainly got experience, they’ve got in many cases pretty established networks and they have a pretty powerful motivation to achieve something. For many, the businesses they start or want to get involved with have a social purpose, it’s not just about the money.
“For some people it’s a financial imperative that they really needed to earn more, but for a lot of people they’re seeking meaning, purpose and connection. And it’s only after they retire that they realise those fundamental human needs, they were actually getting those through employment.”
Another reader, who ran a small business with her partner, told us she took on another part-time job to earn some extra cash at the age of 60. Writing in an email, the 69-year-old said: “I wanted an extra job outside our small business which didn’t take up many hours, so I went to an employment agency. I started with Apia which became part of Suncorp and found them to be very accepting and encouraging of older employees.
“I think it’s important, as older people with lots of wisdom and life experience, to be humble and learn from the young. Sure we know a lot but being pompous won’t get you anywhere. My advice would be to try employment agencies and impart your wisdom only when asked. Also be prepared to learn new skills.”
Marlene also suggested that, if you find yourself struggling to find employment, voluntary work can be a good way to maintain your skills, as well as learning new ones, and it can help you to keep busy and feel like you “have purpose and are making a contribution”.
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