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Small Business Briefing

'Greypreneurs' on the rise Add to ...

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Call them seniorpreneurs or greypreneurs: Older entrepreneurs have several assets on their side

When many people think of startups, they think of youth. But "seniors have surged to the forefront of the entrepreneurial world of late" and the growing number of businesses being headed by older entrepreneurs has led to the creation of new terms such as 'seniorpreneur' and 'greypreneur,' notes this piece.

The story notes that the number of people aged 60 and over could reach two billion by 2050, according to the United Nations.

And while aging boomers are a target market for many products and services, on the flip side "is opportunities for seniors to branch out as seniorpreneurs."

The article points out the growing number of those aged 55-plus who "seem to be rejecting the traditional model of puttering around a garden or golf course." And they're carefully planning a transition from a career "to arrive at the threshold of an entrepreneurial venture."

It's a phenomenon others are taking note of. This recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek piece noted that the share of entrepreneurs in the 55- to 64-year-old group in the United States rose to 20 per cent in 2011 from 14.3 per cent in 1996. A recent Marion Ewing Kauffman Foundation study found that over the past decade, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity took place among those aged 55 to 64, this USA Today story reported.

The United States could be on the "cusp of an entrepreneurship boom — not in spite of an aging population but because of it,” the Bloomberg BusinessWeek piece quoted Dane Stangler, a researcher at the Kauffman Foundation.

It's a phenomenon happening in Canada, too. For instance, the proportion of self-employed workers in the 55-plus category rose to 26.8 per cent between 1997 and 2007, according to this story we ran last summer on several Canadian tech entrepreneurs who started up their businesses after the age of 40.

Older entrepreneurs have several assets on their side, the KelownaNews piece noted: a level of affluence, minimal financial risks, more patience and experience to add to security and flexibility. Because of their more established credentials, they may also have an easier time raising or borrowing money. And they're up for a new challenge.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek also noted more pluses among the aging crowd: knowledge in their field, deep informal networks, and technologies that make it easier to work at home.

A recent Amex Open Forum piece also described seven advantages that older entrepreneurs have over others. For those who want to become seniorpreneurs, this piece by personal finance expert Gordon Pape offered tips on what kinds of jobs to consider.

Getting paid a growing problem for young firms

The cheque isn't in the mail for a growing number of young small businesses, a new study finds.

Nearly a quarter -- 24 per cent -- of almost 5,000 businesses surveyed said their biggest challenge was customers making late payments or not paying at all, according to the study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of businesses founded since 2004. That figure was up dramatically from 2 per cent in 2008.

Another study also found longer waits for payments, according to The Wall Street Journal. Last year, small businesses had to wait an average 46 days to get paid. That was six more days than in 2010 and 10 more days than in 2006, it said, citing the National Federation of Independent Business.

Big businesses are taking longer to pay their bills, the Journal also reported on another study by Experian to be released next week. It found the wait beyond the contracted date for payment jumped from six days to eight days last year -- a trend the Journal called "particularly disturbing" for small businesses dependent on regular cash flow to pay their own bills.

Trick questions venture capitalists may ask

Ready to ask a venture capitalist for money? There are questions you should be prepared to answer, and answering them right may be tricky. This Forbes piece offers up five common ones, noting that all queries share an underlying objective: "to divine your motivations, expectations and desires." Have a look at the five questions, and Forbes' suggestions for how to handle them right.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Drive your business forward

The Toronto Entrepreneurs Conference takes place May 11, offering entrepreneurs an opportunity to expand their professional networks, hear tips from experienced entrepreneurs, and learn what it takes to become successful. For more information, click here.

Accelerate Montreal

On May 23, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and angel investors will gather for a day of innovation, acceleration and collaboration.For details, click here.

Mesh 12

The next Mesh digital conference takes place in Toronto on May 23 and May 24. The two-day event explores how the Web is evolving, the emergence of new and emerging trends, and what’s over the digital horizon. For more information on the presentations, interactive discussions, networking, registration and more that will take place, click here.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Finding more funding for innovation: no outsiders, please

This week's Challenge: IT service provider DSM Computing Solutions Inc. needs to find further funding for innovation and new product development. With resources stretched to the limit, its founder and president does not want to turn to outside investors, concerned about diluting his ownership, losing control and avoiding the pressures that external investors can bring to bear. Read what the experts advise.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Young entrepreneurs caged by age

On the other end of the age spectrum are young entrepreneurs. For many fresh-faced bosses heading firms, their age can sometimes create problems and cause them to meet resistance, this story reported last September. Just because of how old they are, or how old they look, some entrepreneurs may face assumptions about their competence from customers or suppliers; others may have difficulties with employees working for a boss decades their junior; and they may also have to overcome financing obstacles, as financial institutions balk at their lean ages and credit histories. Some find people just don't take them seriously.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

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