Ageism and Entrepreneurship: 5 Ways to Make Old Age Work in Your Favour
This article is written by guest author Jelena Djurdjevic.
We all know that getting old isn’t for the faint of heart. As people advance in age, new challenges related to physical and mental ability need to be overcome in order to ensure a productive lifestyle. With modern developments in medicine and nutrition, however, people can now maintain their ability to function at a high level well into their 70s and even 80s. In these circumstances, it stands to reason that success in the competitive world of business is also achievable, so let’s take a closer look at the reasons why ageism should fall by the wayside in the years to come:
1. Entrepreneurial drive is permanent
In a recent survey of 720 people aged 65 and older, both men and women testified as to what their greatest fears were with regards to ageing. Aside from expressing concern about their physical and mental well-being, many respondents feared losing their financial independence. To that end, one of the best ways to guarantee peace of mind in your twilight years is to never give up on your dreams. Nurture and harness your entrepreneurial drive even as your body starts to falter, and you’ll likely discover that your capacity for hard work and innovation is far from running dry.
2. History supports anti-ageism
Looking back into the past, there are plenty of instances where extremely successful enterprises have been started by people who were nearing retirement age. Moreover, even when it comes to companies that are led by youthful entrepreneurs, more often than not you’ll see an experienced businessman employed at a top level of the enterprise. To give just one famous example, John Sculley played an essential role in shepherding Steve Jobs’ burgeoning Apple empire throughout its early years, even if his level of name recognition isn’t on par with that of Jobs.
3. Expertise is a valuable asset
Simply put, one cannot go through life without accumulating knowledge. The more the years pass, the higher level of expertise one stands to gain in any chosen field. In the business world, this usually translates to a deeper understanding of the various mechanisms that govern companies and their employees. Time also tends to bring about a certain level of wisdom in some people, one that comes from seeing things happen over and over again, as well as infuse them with the kind of patience that’s necessary to prevent rash decisions and other misguided ventures. All these qualities are guaranteed to come in handy at an executive level, and are prized assets for companies everywhere.
4. Commanding respect
Another consequence of growing old lies in having your stature expand in the eyes of co-workers. People are taught from an early age to feel a sense of respect towards their elders, especially if they’ve achieved a position of prominence within their chosen field. Indeed, the average age of a CEO across all industries is 50 years old upon taking office, which illustrates the fact that older people tend to be trusted more with authority than their less experienced colleagues. Even in the relatively new Information Technology sector, the average CEO age has crept up to 45 years old, a sign that the industry is stabilizing and nearing its maturation stage.
5. More contacts, more opportunities
In the business world, who you know is often just as important as what you know. To that end, people who have accumulated a large amount of business contacts will generally have more people they can rely on. Naturally, this translates into a bevy of new opportunities, from business expansion possibilities to simply having a wider pool of available candidates to fill potential job openings with. Of course, this only works if you’ve carefully cultivated your contacts throughout the years, since burning bridges and being generally anti-social rarely lead to many long-term alliances.
All in all, it’s clear that older people have certain unique things that they can bring to the table in almost any business setting. For these reasons alone, their place in the world of entrepreneurship should continue to stabilize as their standing in society improves. As it stands, although it may sometimes seem like young man’s world out there, it’s one that’s irrevocably built and maintained on the sturdy shoulders of the elderly.