Many boomers turn self-employed.

In the past few days we’ve talked about the twenty-somethings and the challenge we have to reinvent work for them, and manage them differently.

Well, we boomers won’t be going quietly. We’re also reinventing work for ourselves. I’m not alone in my opinion that retirement ceased to be a viable option with my parents’ generation. Take a look at this, then click back in, I’ll wait.
Many boomers turn self-employed.

The print-version of the article had this byline: “More than 11 percent of those over age 50 work for themselves.” So reports a 2003 study by AARP, and I’ll bet it’s way more than that now. Making the switch to self-employment is getting to be a pretty common denominator with people I’m working with, call it “entrepreneurial coaching.” And my clients aren’t making this switch because they have to, they want to. It’s exciting, energizing stuff.

Count me in the trend: I didn’t even wait for my half-century mark. When I left the corporate workforce over a year ago there was no doubt in my mind that I’d keep working for a long time to come, and probably until I physically couldn’t. I turned to what I most wanted to do, management coaching, figuring out how to turn work-desire into profit (versus paycheck). And I’m having the time of my life: I should have done it sooner. As grateful as I am for the years I spent in the corporate environment (sure learned a lot, met great people), I’m not going back to it.

One of my biggest hopes for the near future is that small business enterprise will make bigger market gains—and fast.
I have dreams about Main Street USA coming back all over the country, proliferating the distinctiveness, charm, tenacity, and values-building character of the mom-and-pop operations that taught great work ethic first and foremost. “Work” meant “livelihood”—remember that word?—Lively neighborhood” Heck, I want barter to make a strong comeback too.

Ironically, even if this throw-back to traditional free enterprise were to happen, it would be considered big change today, seen as more evidence that “the only constant is change.” Well, great. Change calls for new thinking, new learning, and entrepreneurs are terrific students: The best kind of learning is that which you do for yourself.


  1. Doug Murata says

    The other half of your quote on change…speed is the variable…and to that I would add another variable “direction”.
    So speed and direction are the issues for those of us who live their lives in a constant state of change. I myself,over the last 15 years, have alternated between entrepreneurial and corporate pursuits.
    And I have had fun….and lots of learning too. I sometimes think I could go on doing this as long as I am physically and mentally able to. The traditional notion of retirement is just not relevant for me.
    But I have always wondered how many of us there really are out there…so those who are, please let us hear from you.

  2. says

    I see entrepreneurship as one of the solutions to the outsourcing and downsizing of corporate workforces. As talented people become available as a result, and they consider the opportunities and freedoms afforded by owning and managing their own businesses, a boom in entrepreneurship is the result.
    Baby boomers are taking like ducks to water as entrepreneurs. Raised to be individualists, Boomers are naturals for self employment. In fact, there is also little other option. If companies neglect experienced potential employees due to age issues, those talented people will find an outlet in some creative and productive manner. In many cases, that outlet is entrepreneurship.