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An ageing population is often portrayed as a problem rather an opportunity.  In the former scenario mature-aged people are viewed as a drain on the economy due to rising pension and health costs, while the latter sees an experienced and highly skilled, underutilised talent pool.  Much more needs to be done to turn the ‘deficit’ view into a ‘strengths’ view.

Mature-aged entrepreneurs provide a great illustration of the latter scenario.  They are the fastest growing form of entrepreneurship in Australia. Mature-aged entrepreneurs are made up of those who have always wanted to start their own business ventures, those who, drawing on their vast experience in the workplace, identify a gap or opportunity in the market, and very often, those who are involuntarily retired.  This latter group may never have considered starting their own businesses, until they found themselves out of work.  While not everyone is cut out to start and grow a successful business, mature-aged people 45 + are actually more likely to succeed than younger cohorts.

Given our increasing life expectancy, which means that Australians reaching the traditional retirement age can expect to live almost another quarter century, maintaining an engagement with work is a growing trend.

There are good reasons for this. Not only does it provide individual economic benefits but it’s also good for Australia’s GDP. Australia ranks 17th in the OECD for the employment rate of workers 55+, while our near neighbour NZ, ranks 2nd.   It has been estimated that increasing the percentage of older Australian workers to NZ participation levels could increase Australia’s GDP by a whooping $99 billion.

This is a significant benefit, but it is probably the social and health benefits that are even more important. Many of us would have heard the anecdotes about people, (especially men) spiralling into a deep depression after giving up work because they don’t know what to do with themselves. 

Having a long working career means that work is often integral to identity and filling that hole in retirement can be difficult, especially if you have not planned for it. Using skills and experience built up over years in the workforce to set up a business doing something you are passionate about is an obvious antidote.  It gives greater control over your time, has the potential to leave a lasting legacy, increases income security and helps to maintain connection with others.

Often the best time to be thinking about this is when you are still employed. There is an increasing trend toward hybrid entrepreneurship where aspiring entrepreneurs maintain a part-time job while establishing their own ventures.

There is an obvious opportunity here to connect with experienced mature-aged people struggling with unemployment (or underemployment for that matter) and encourage them to explore the idea of trying something new.  By helping them better understand their skills, including their transferable skills, it opens up to the possibility of developing new business ventures.

WoWT is aiming to fulfil that role, which is why we want to build on our on-line community of experienced professionals and mature-aged, aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. We see ourselves as providing a gateway to support services, mentors and peers at a similar life-stage and creating a collaborative space where support and knowledge can be shared.  Our mantra is that it is never too late to do the work you love!

What do you think? Make a comment below

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