Baby boomers: There is no age limit to becoming an entrepreneur

Tech startup founders in their 20s and 30s make all the headlines, but when it comes to entrepreneurship, increasingly it’s baby boomers who are more likely to be in business for themselves — and creating jobs in the process, reports Bertha Combs for CBNC.

For Lynn Gray, the idea of starting her own firm had never been anything more than an occasional daydream.

“I never really had the time to think, ‘Do I want to do something completely different and take a risk?’’’ said the former head of recruitment in Lehman Brother’s Global Real Estate Group.

Lynn Gray (photo credit: Tufts Alumni)

With Lehman’s collapse in 2008, nobody was hiring recruiters on Wall Street. At age 59, she had to start fresh, so she enrolled in an entrepreneurship course. She launched her own recruiting service, Campus Scout, three years ago.

She’s built a client base and now is looking to expand. “I’ve reached a point where I can’t do it myself,” she said. “I need to get some people who could go out and be a sales force, beyond me.”

It’s the kind of story Michelle Markey, vice president of The Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac entrepreneurship programs, has seen again and again.

“If you follow all the trends that kind of swirl around the boomer population,” she said, “this is a pretty obvious one—that we’re going to see the number of boomer entrepreneurs increase pretty significantly.”

Older workers have historically seen an advantage in forming businesses, but baby boomers have fared even better than younger entrepreneurs during the Great Recession. Their labor participation rate has climbed steadily over the last decade while for younger workers it dropped in 2008.

The self-employment rate for adults 55 and older is 16.4 percent, according to Bureau of Labor statistics. That compares with a 10.4 percent rate of self-employment for the total labor force, which has seen a decline.

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