Baby boomers have become the new entrepreneurs. We're creating new businesses at a torrid pace, unmatched by the youngsters. In the process, we're obliterating the ageist assumption that boomers are risk-averse.
I've been trying to find a cogent explanation for this trend, especially because I joined the fray two years ago when I started my own business at age 55 on a wing and a prayer. I somehow convinced myself that I had something unique to offer the world that would produce a sustainable income. I'd exhausted myself lawyering for 20+ years and it was now time to reinvent myself. Luckily, after spending a few unhappy months searching for long-squelched abilities, some bubbled to the surface. Much to my surprise, I discovered that I enjoyed "owning the room," both as an Instructor and a paid keynote speaker. I pursued both. When I finally succumbed to the oft-repeated advice that I had to start blogging, I learned I had a knack for crafting an interesting read. Before I knew it, I had articles in print, a book in publication, and was invited to join HuffPost. My business has continued to evolve with my interests and aptitudes. My latest is a foray into Wellness Coaching. In short, I'm earning a living and having the time of my life!
However, I still puzzle over the question of what possessed me to take the leap into entrepreneurship. After all, I'd been quite content to receive a steady paycheck as a W-2 law firm partner. Hanging out my own shingle as a solo practitioner seemed as enticing as the wafting stench of gefilte fish.
So what's gotten into me and so many of my boomer comrades? After all, we know that start-ups are typically foolhardy adventures. There's no denying the daunting statistic that as many as one-half of all new businesses tank within the first five years. Yet many of us are willing to invest our life savings in our solo ventures, well aware of the fact that we don't have enough working years left to replace our nest eggs. Where are we getting the chutzpah to believe that we'll succeed where so many others have done a face plant?
I've mulled over all the logical explanations. Perhaps our life experiences have imbued us with confidence in our abilities and the seasoned judgment to sort through and reject harebrained ideas. Or maybe our bravado is fueled by the fact that, absent the financial pressure of supporting two kids, we're now free to pursue our passions.
Then I stumbled across the real reason. It's in our genes. Did you know that ants change careers as they age, eventually taking on the most risky venture -- leaving the nest to forage for food? Researchers have found that other insects, like honeybees, also engage in career reinvention as they age.
So, there you go! It's in our bug genes. Our DNA goads us into taking crazy risks, like starting our own businesses, in our golden years. As Ricky Ricardo used to say: "That 'splains it."