According to the latest study from the Kauffman Foundation, Americans in 2012 started 512,000 new businesses each month. And the biggest influx of entrepreneurs and new business owners is in the 50 and over age group! It is the biggest growth segment of the population, as more seniors are starting businesses now than ever before. Today’s seniors are taking a more active, engaged role than any previous generation—and that is so important! Why are they doing it? I think there are two reasons.
First, thanks to advances in medicine and technology, we’re living longer than ever. We all understand that if we take care of our bodies—if we stay physically active, work out, keep up with our doctors, eat right, etc.—then we are going to be healthier. If we are living longer, and working hard to live healthier, and want to maintain and improve our lifestyles with our children and grandchildren, we also need more money to support that. The economics, are an important factor as we start, run, and grow businesses, and continue working past “retirement” age.
But I think the second reason is even more important. If taking care of our bodies makes us healthier and happier, the same is true—and even more so—for our minds. An essential part of living a fulfilling life is really being engaged, being involved and making our voices heard. I’m happiest, and I learn more, when I’m helping people and solving problems, and that energizes me to get up excited every morning and fight for what I believe in, for what’s right for our country.
The same is true for millions of Americans. More and more seniors don’t just work because they need the money, but also because they want to stay active. Rupert Murdoch is 83 years old, and so is Warren Buffett. I’m pretty sure they could retire comfortably if they wanted to stop working! I don’t expect either of them ever to retire, and I don’t plan to, either, because it’s my way of challenging myself and doing productive things, to be healthier of mind as well as body.
Today’s 70 year old is yesterday’s 50 year old. It’s certainly true as I continue to follow the world of sports. I think of some of the legendary coaches of past generations. At my alma mater, the University of Georgia, football coach Vince Dooley retired from coaching at 56. Darrell Royal retired from coaching at the University of Texas at just 52. Tom Osborne and Bo Schembechler were 60. Bill Walsh walked away from the 49ers at 57. Even the “outliers” might surprise you: Don Shula retired at 65, Tom Landry was forced out at 64, and even the great Bear Bryant was just 69.
You know who just turned 69? Steve Spurrier, who is as involved as ever and going strong at the University of South Carolina. Nick Saban, who is at the top of the coaching world and shows no signs of slowing down, has passed all the names I gave above except for Bryant: he’s already 63. Bill Belichick, the greatest NFL coach of this generation, and Pete Carroll, this year’s Super Bowl champion, are both 62, while Dick LeBeau continues to innovate as defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers at age 76.
It’s a new world, and today’s seniors are a more important, involved part than ever before. We have an important role to play in getting this country back on track and promoting job growth, innovation, and the American work ethic. We need seniors to keep starting more businesses, and we can help you do that.