Achieving entrepreneurial success in later life

21 Jan 2020

How the rise of senior enterprise is benefiting all of society

Senior Enterprise is a concept that seeks to harness the expertise, experience, and talents of the older generation, with the aim of empowering seniors to become entrepreneurs or serve as mentors for the next generation of business leaders.

There is overwhelming evidence which shows that entrepreneurship among the older generation is not only a natural progression for those who want to postpone retirement, but also that it makes a positive contribution to social well-being.

The rise of senior enterprise

Despite the media’s portrayal of the model entrepreneur as a young, rich, tech-savvy individual who is trying to disrupt an industry; the reality is quite different. A study done by a professor and doctoral student at MIT found that the likelihood of entrepreneurial success rises with age, and the average age of successful entrepreneurs in the U.S. is nearly 42 years old.

In another report on national trends, The Kauffman Index on Startup Activity found that seniors (ages 55 to 64) experienced a dramatic surge in growth as a segment of the U.S. entrepreneurial population over the twenty-year period between 1996 and 2016; going from making up only 14.8 percent of new entrepreneurs in 1996 to 25.5 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2016.

Seniors tend to possess the expertise and resilience that only experience can provide.  The value proposition that this know-how contributes to a new business venture is invaluable and may act as a guiding spirit for younger members of the company. 

Societal benefits of senior enterprise

Besides the obvious economic benefits of entrepreneurship, such as the creation of new jobs and the subsequent boost to the local economy, setting up a new business can serve as a way for older people to remain active and engaged in life and starting a new venture can be a natural progression for those senior who do not want to start retirement just yet. 

A 2014 Merrill Lynch study, Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations, found that this desire to continue working was quite prevalent. About half (47%) of today’s retirees say they either have worked or plan to work during their retirement with nearly three out of five (58%) working retirees citing retirement as an opportunity to transition to a different line of work.

However, the knock-on positive effects for society don’t stop there. Encouraging seniors to undertake business ventures or continue working in companies can help reduce the impact of labour shortages in many European countries, positively contributing to everyone’s well-being.

The Smart Ageing Prize

As age distribution charts around the globe increasingly look like inverted pyramids due to the ageing of society in general, opportunities will arise to satisfy the needs of this growing market segment.

In an attempt to find solutions that support, empower and inspire older adults to engage in entrepreneurship, the AAL Programme and Nesta Challenges have launched The Smart Ageing Prize, which gives out €50,000 in prize money to the top three proposals for new ventures which would bring to life the entrepreneurial ideas and energy of the 60+ age group. 

Click here if you’re interested in submitting a proposal or if you have any questions about the prize, contact us at and we will get back in touch.