Self-employed seniors – a growing trend?

When corporate life palls for the older employee, it appears that more of them are deciding to start their own businesses instead of retiring, or hanging on grimly until the corporation jettisons them. 

What started as a trickle some years ago appears to be increasing to a respectable flow as more highly-trained employees decide to leave an increasingly regimented corporate world for a lifestyle in which they get to call the shots.

A number of senior entrepreneurs are profiled in a recent U.S.News & World Report article titled, Going Your Own Way, by Emily Brandon and James M. Pethokoukis. The article also contains some fascinating information about post-corporate life:

According to U.S.News & World Report, an analysis by Challenger, Gray & Christmas of government data shows that those 55 to 64 and older represent one of the fastest-growing groups of self-employed workers.

Some 1.8 million American workers ages 55 to 64 are self-employed outside of agriculture, up 29 percent from 2000, according to the Labor Department.

The number of do-it-yourselfers 65 and older has grown 18 percent to 756,000. And boomers 45 to 54 years old make up more than a quarter of the nation’s 9.6 million self-employed.

Overall, boomers and older entrepreneurs now account for 54 percent of self-employed workers, up from 48.5 percent in 2000.

Some readers of this weblog may remember my 25 earlier posts on micro-businesses. I started describing the phenomena in 2004 when home businesses were first coming out of the closet. It appears now that more and more people are choosing to strike out on their own and the business models continue to evolve.

For example, I wrote Virtual Micro-business? on June 21, 2004 which discussed the outsourcing of work by a micro-business to other micro-businesses acting as subcontractors, but things have gone much farther since then.

U.S.News & World Report recently discussed an "empire of one" business which is a one-person business which outsources everything—products manufactured in China or India, sent to a distribution center in the United States, with customers in the United Kingdom and Brazil. Manufacturing, marketing, bookkeeping, accounting, legal, and operations are all outsourced to other businesses around the world.

I think the increased recognition of micro-business activity is encouraging, but there is much more that can be done to make it easier for those who are currently employed to make a smooth transition to self-employment.

I think it’s time to revisit the subject of launching a micro-business and see if the basics have changed or the barriers to success have been lowered in the last year.

What do you think?

UPDATE: Ric Hayman had difficulty adding a comment to this post. I managed to get part of it added below in the comments section, but Typepad is stoutly protecting me from the rest of his comment so I am adding it here since it relates to lowering the bar for people starting up their own businesses:

Ric Hayman: Ismael’s ongoing Office2.0 posts

show how some of this stuff is lowering the cost of
setting up your own business.

If you are having trouble adding comments to any of my posts because typepad is treating your comment as spam, please send me an email and I’ll see If I can’t circumvent the dread barriers of Typepad and get your comment posted as you intended.

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0 Responses to Self-employed seniors – a growing trend?

  1. Eric says:


    I hope you will indeed revisit the topic of microbusinesses. It is my long term goal to create a microbusiness. The tedium and uncertainty of corporate america is overbearing. I’m still searching for the right opportunity and would welcome your new insights on microbusinesses.

  2. Ric Hayman says:

    David – do it! It will be particularly interesting to contrast a new survey with your previous one in the area of setup costs, given the more general availability of business tools on the Web (the infamous Web2.0 moniker raises its ugly head here!) Paul McNamara’s post about Going Bedouin

  3. Razib Ahmed says:

    ” 55 to 64 and older represent one of the fastest-growing groups of self-employed workers.” this is interesting finding in the survey but people with experince can do a lot. I just think that we should alway try to remain uptodate with the world so that we can start even at 60.

  4. Somebody above said “Do it!” That’s the key – get off your butts and just do it. All the plottin’ and plannin’ and procrastinating in the world isn’t going to stop the shock and awe of a life misspent once it hits. If not now, when? If not this, what? If not here, where?

  5. I am very intrigued by this whole phenomenon and wonder about the reasons prompting this explosion in “micro businesses.” Is it the entreneurial spirit or is it a sign of disillusionment? Maybe it’s partly both!

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