For an increasing number of Americans, 50 is the new 20, a time to decide what they want to do with the rest of their life.
Many of them are deciding to start their own business. In fact, “encore entrepreneurs” are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. A 2010 survey by the Kauffman Foundation found that Americans 55 to 64 start new business ventures at a higher rate than any other age group, including 20-somethings. Fully 23 percent of new entrepreneurs were age 55 to 64, up from 14 percent in 1996.
I’ve had numerous people say to me they are getting squeezed out of the start up legal market because larger law firms are sponsoring startup accelerators to find the next Zuckerberg. Our own columnist, Kelli Proia, made the same observation in her very popular post ‘Solos! Create Your Own Sandbox’. There is also the standard complaint that 20-somethings don’t have the money to pay for legal work as well as 1 – believe they don’t need lawyers (read ‘don’t trust or value lawyers’), and 2 – they can do the work themselves with a form or be a ‘Google lawyer’ (read ‘get everything they need to do it themselves on the internet.)
But if nearly 25% percent of new entrepreneurs are over 55 and have nearly twice the success rate of 20-somethings, now you have a different clientele. This potential client most likely has always wanted to have her own business and has put away funds precisely for this time in her life or he has been forced to leave his current position for any number of reasons and is driven to protect his family, his assets, and to shore up a retirement deficit. This makes for a very compelling market and a proactive, driven client.
In recognition of this market there is an organization called Encore Entrepreneurs which has its first incubator in, you guessed it, Silicon Valley. The SBA also has a site filled with information for the encore entrepreneur and has worked in conjunction with AARP to host a National Encore Entrepreneur Day. And SCORE has Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Days. But outside of this, a basic search on Google tells me that the term ‘Encore Entrepreneur’ is being used very generically and with not much saturation. Therefore, an enterprising lawyer can start to really work this niche if she wants to. Conduct seminars, webinars, work with those organizations who do outplacement when a company has to downsize.
The demographics support a strong growth area in the 55+ entrepreneur/startup market and they are going to need your help. Most startup lawyers think 20 years olds. Your future may just be with with grandma’s friends!
(Photo: Arthur L. Fry – inventor of the Sticky Post It Note Sheets)