Entrepreneurship is often considered to be an activity for the young. Today, with the pictures of the Instagram and Snapchat crowd and young billion-dollar hedge fund managers, there seems to be a certain youthful edginess to entrepreneurship. It's as if entrepreneurship requires some special bit of youthful knowledge, some esoteric information, some hidden code, or some technical technique that the older crowd can't quite grasp. The proliferation of young entrepreneurs, of Generation Y and now the Millennials, gives the impression that only the young are able to grasp markets, emerging technologies, and the nuances of new ideas. That said, experience is a fertile ground for new ideas. It follows that seniors are as capable of contributing new ideas as anyone else. The challenge is bringing these ideas to fruition.
I confess. After a long academic career, I had the idea to create an edgy leadership training company with multi-modality delivery. The problem was that while I had the content knowledge, focus, and energy, entrepreneurship as a senior presents unique challenges.
You could be a retired English teacher who has a new methodology that can be employed by thousands of young people who are studying English as a second language. Or maybe you are a retired engineer with an understanding of how to create a novel manual lock that is more secure and more accessible than what's available on the market. Or, you're the house wife who wants to produce couture fashion. Or, you're the retired social worker who wants to set up a helpline for to reach out to a particular population who may be experiencing crisis. While senior entrepreneurs may appreciate that their ideas may have value, they may feel that the channels to introduce their ideas are blocked--or only open to younger people.
In every case, you have the content knowledge. The problem is, you need the skills to repackage it, reformulate it, and disseminate it to the public in a way that will not necessitate a major investment on your part. Contemporary technology is the answer. Repackaging through design, reformulating through the creation of new platforms, and disseminating through the internet.
And this is where seniors may have a knowledge gap. How can you do all this when you don't know how or where to start? Partner with the young people that have these particular skills. Young people are great at redesigning, reformulating, and disseminating ideas through the internet. Doesn't this seem like a match made in heaven?
The key to senior entrepreneurship is partnership with Generation Y or the Millennials. The key for young entrepreneurs is to partner with Baby Boomers.
It's a simple formula we should have learned in high school. The freshmen partners partner with the seniors and vice versa. The only challenge is finding each other. Like in high school, the only problem may be some initial awkwardness.
I successfully launched my leadership company, using multiple platforms and increasingly complex technologies. I was only able to do this because I was able to partner with people who were several decades younger than I am. I'm actively involved, continuously pushing new ideas, and constantly reaching out to my younger partners to figure out what's viable, what's scaleable, and what's appealing.