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December 2016

Becoming an Over-50 Entrepreneur is Nothing to Laugh At

OnYourOwnI have long been an advocate of starting a business if you are over the age of 50. As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, my wife and I started a small, local service company in our mid-fifties and ran it successfully for seven years before we sold it. You can read about our experiences in our book, Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business.

With a new year upon us, maybe you have the entrepreneurial itch. If so, you'll be encouraged that at least one expert thinks older entrepreneurs have distinct advantages over younger entrepreneurs. Richard Eisenberg of Next Avenue interviewed David Deeds, the Schulze Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship of the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. Deeds is also editor-in-chief of the Entrepreneur & Innovation Exchange (EIX). When Deeds was asked about the advantages an entrepreneur over the age of 50 might have, here's what he said:

"As someone who just turned 55, I think there are a lot of advantages, and far more advantages than disadvantages.

"In your 50s, you have experience, knowledge and wisdom. You’ve seen a lot of things while you’ve worked in your career, or in a multitude of careers or jobs. You probably have some financial wherewithal. You’ve established a network over your career that you can get feedback from — maybe potential customers or engineers or designers you can learn a lot from over a cup of coffee.

"To be honest, the only serious disadvantage I see is societal perception that entrepreneurship is for wide-eyed twenty-somethings. That is wrong. One thing we know about entrepreneurs: They are as diverse as the population. There’s no magic test that says you can or can’t be one."

For those who are looking to start a business, Deeds advises:

"The most important thing: Do your homework. Talk to potential customers and people who have the problem you’re trying to solve with your business. Then start iterating simple prototypes. You’re not going to get it right at first and you don’t want to go all in until you’re close to getting it right. Don’t quit your day job until you’re ready. And don’t bet the farm.

"The other thing I’d say is to put together solid financial plans. You’re in an age group that wants to have a nice retirement and travel. So plan for yourself and for your venture. As you start a business, your personal and venture finances will merge very rapidly."

You can read more from David Deeds in the Next Avenue article here.

Is It Time for Boomer Activism?

MusingsBoomers undoubtedly remember the time when many in their generation made their voices heard about the big issues of the day, such as civil rights, women's rights, and Vietnam. Nowadays, one of the big issues is elder rights, or an even more insidious version of it called ageism.

Boomers are fortunate they have two safety nets that cannot be taken for granted: Social Security and Medicare. Just to give you an idea of the importance of these programs, as of September 2016, over 45 million individuals age 65 or older receive Social Security benefits, and over 54 million aged and disabled individuals are on Medicare.

But there is another side to these programs, as Max Richtman points out. Writing for Next Avenue, Richtman says "these programs continue to be political targets by those who have tried to pit young vs. old, creating a generational battle over limited budget resources.

"Portraying America’s parents and grandparents as 'greedy geezers' who care only about their own benefits (which they’ve earned after a lifetime) at the expense of future generations is one of the most pernicious examples of the ageism that is all too common in our nation. We see it in the workplace, in public debate, between generations and in social policy."

Richtman states loudly and clearly that leaders in government need to address the negative affects of ageism. He says, "Ageism, sadly, pervades our policy discourse, squandering this unique opportunity in our history to create policies, systems and programs that tap into the wealth of experience, knowledge and opportunities that our aging community provides.

"The 14 percent of America that is now over 65 should be at the heart of public policies to improve our nation’s health care system and to increase employment opportunities, fair housing, and economic equity that can stretch across all generations."

So if you're looking for a way to become an activist again -- look to your own self-interest. It turns out that, as Boomers live longer, fighting against ageism has become a top issue. 

The Thought-Provoking Movie "Denial"

Media Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 2.44.59 PMIf you like movies that address contemporary issues and make you think, put Denial on your must-see list. Based on a true story, Denial is a tale of a libel case fought in a British courtroom where, unlike in the United States, the defendant is essentially guilty until proven innocent. The case has been brought by a Holocaust-denying historian, brilliantly played by Timothy Spall, against another historian, also well acted by Rachel Weisz, whose Jewish heritage contributes to her moral outrage at being sued for defaming a thoroughly despicable person. The most complex and endearing character in the movie, though, might be Weisz's British attorney. Sensitively portrayed by Tom Wilkinson, the attorney stages an unorthodox takedown of the Holocaust denier in a courtroom scene that ranks among the most memorable in film.

There are many messages in this intricate, thought-provoking movie. It ultimately exhibits a kind of good vs. evil that leaves one feeling vindicated but not entirely satisfied with the outcome. For a movie with little "action" in the traditional Hollywood sense, Denial had that rare ability to keep my wife and I entranced through the story and dialogue alone. I highly recommend it. 

Encore's "Generation to Generation" Campaign Has Its Heart in the Right Place

OntheHouseIf you're a Boomer who's not familiar with, you should be. Encore is a nonprofit that focuses on "second acts for the greater good," which is something many of us are thinking about or have already started to pursue. Now Encore has launched a new campaign called "Generation to Generation" with the goal of getting older generations to help younger generations.

Writing for Next Avenue, Richard Eisenberg says Generation to Generation’s five-year goal is "getting one million adults over 50 to 'help young people thrive' by volunteering and working with needy children." Eisenberg references a survey conducted by Encore in which 80 percent of respondents said “making the world a better place for the next generation is important or very important.” In addition, 77 percent of respondents 60 and older said life after age 60 is a time of mostly “freedom, growth and giving back.”

The first push for the Generation to Generation campaign will be mentoring, which can be accomplished through the campaign's numerous partners, including the AARP Foundation Experience Corps, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and

Generation to Generation sounds like a campaign that is very well targeted to Boomers who want to give back. I can tell you from personal experience that helping younger generations can be fulfilling. As a volunteer, I have counseled budding entrepreneurs in branding and marketing. Knowing I helped them start or improve their small businesses was rewarding. 

To learn more about the Generation to Generation campaign, visit this website: