Encore Entrepreneurs

Encore Entrepreneurs

America's Driving Force for
New Business Startups

It's a term that has come into use only recently: "encore entrepreneurs." It denotes men and women who start a business in their 50s, 60s, and 70s as an encore to a previous career.

According to the Census Bureau and the Small Business Administration, these encore entrepreneurs are currently launching more than half of the 400,000 business startups in the U.S. each year.

What Motivates Encore Entrepreneurs?

The ranks of the encore entrepreneurs are growing steadily. A variety of paths bring men and women to their decision to start a business at 50 years of age or older. Here are some of the primary reasons people are choosing to become encore entrepreneurs.

Encore entrepreneurs begin more than 20,000 businesses each month.

Lifelong Dream

For many people becoming an entrepreneur has been a lifelong aspiration. For whatever reasons they felt they needed to put their entrepreneurial longings on the shelf in their earlier years of adulthood. Perhaps they wanted to develop expertise in a particular field before they went out on their own. Perhaps they wanted the assurance of a steady paycheck while children were still at home. There are scores of reasons why some have waited until later in their career to build the business of their dreams.

Corporate Burnout

Years of fighting corporate life leave many people dispirited and longing to be their own boss for a change. Being an encore entrepreneur gives them a chance to reclaim their life in a way that gives them a fresh outlook on life. However, as an entrepreneur they quickly discover how many things were done for them in the corporate world that they now must do for themselves. They are the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Finance Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Human Resources Officer for their company. Their first years as an encore entrepreneur are therefore a constant learning exercise.

Limited Job Opportunities

Mergers, acquisitions, and downsizing push thousands of older workers into unemployment each year. And even though there are supposedly laws to prevent age bias, many of them go for months or even years without being able to find a new position. The current sluggish economy aggravates the situation. But for many the greatest challenge is that they have worked long enough that their last salary was more than potential new employers are willing to consider. Out of necessity, therefore, these displaced workers start considering the option of becoming an encore entrepreneur.

Inadequate Retirement Funds

Millions of workers retired years ago never planning to work again in their lives. But then the economic collapse of 2008 and beyond left many of them with depleted retirement funds which were insufficient for their long-term needs. Something similar occurs with men and women given early retirement packages as part of a company's reduction in force. For people in this situation, becoming an encore entrepreneur is an attractive way to add the cash flow that they need.


As we live longer, healthier lives, the traditional retirement age of 60 or 65 is becoming increasingly outmoded. More and more people are being forced into retirement at a time when their minds are still active, their energy still high, and their bodies in good health. While the fun and relaxation of retirement are enticing at first, they frequently find themselves with too much time on their hands. They feel unfulfilled and bored. Whereas others may decide to become an encore entrepreneur in order to add cash flow, for these men and women owning their own business is as much about "feeling alive" as it is about making a lot of money.

Passion to Serve

With increasing regularity men and women are using their retirement years to build an organization that addresses some pressing community or humanitarian need. This may be a cause that they have felt strongly about for decades. Now, without the encumbrances of daily employment, they can turn their energy to building an organization which embodies their passion. These encore entrepreneurs commonly start a non-profit rather than a traditional business. But otherwise they face the same challenges and learning curve of anyone who becomes an encore entrepreneur.

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