An increasing amount of older Americans are staring their own businesses, reveals a recent survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found that the largest group of newly self-employed individuals are those age 65 and up.

Between November of 2007 and May of 2009, the percentage of Americans age 65 or older who are self-employed rose from 16 percent to 18 percent. Following at a distant second were those age 16 to19, growing from 1 percent to 2 percent.

Although the oldest segment of the population has long been the most likely to be self-employed, some might find it surprising that it is also the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs.

McKinley became an entrepreneur at 56, when he co-founded foreclosure-listing service REOTrans.com in 2003. He says optimism and opportunism are the two defining factors that help explain why the senior generation is increasingly enterprising.

"There is an opportunity to take the skill sets that they've used in the past -- and been successful with -- and apply them now," McKinley says. "Especially if they've been successful and have available capital."

Even if the youngest generation recognizes the entrepreneurial option, it takes more than an idea to make a living. That's why, according to McKinley, experience plays such a big role in determining who will actually decide to venture out on their own.

"Of course," he jokes, "There's also the part of the evaporating 401K."