The good news is that young people, more than during the 1990s or even early 2000s, view feminism as a movement that matters. The bad news, for women who for a variety of reasons haven’t yet hit their professional stride, is that we live in a youth-centered culture in which many young women believe that success can only be obtained while they’re young. Or, if one becomes successful later in life, it’s the product of years of single-minded effort.
However, behind the endless parade of glittering headlines about the newest and youngest female millionaires, many women have in fact have accomplished far more in their later years than their early ones.
In case you’re presently discouraged because time seems to have passed you by, rest assured that there’s no shelf life on finding your passion, and no time limit on obtaining success. While America’s richest self-made women are titans of industry who have built some of the nation’s biggest companies, 10% of them only began their rise to the top after the age of 40; one of those six didn’t even begin her fantastic ascent until after turning 50.
Sure, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s $1.4 billion fortune is the stuff of modern legend, but all you late bloomers out there take heart: Vera Wang, famed wedding dress designer, did not open her flagship boutique until she was 40 in 1990. And while Beyonce Knowles is estimated to be worth a cool $350 million, she’s been pursuing her passion for singing and dancing since childhood. If you’re someone whose life has taken you by the wrist and away from dormant dreams, you’re not alone: Robin Chase cofounded Zipcar at age 42 in 2000. And she seems to be making up for ‘lost’ time. Chase left the company in 2011 and continues to build and advise startups, as well as serve as a member of the World Economic Forum.
Not Just A Young Person’s Game: Meet the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs
‘Entrepreneur’ usually conjures up images of twenty-something university graduates launching a hi-tech startup from their parents’ garage.However, the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs over the last few years are people aged 50 and over, referred to as ‘seniorpreneurs’ or ‘olderpreneurs’. According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, Olderpreneurs make up a fifth of Britain’s new business owners. Moreover, Barclays bank reported a 67% increase in women over 55 opening business accounts in the last decade; for those aged 65 and older, the number is up 132%.
While these entrepreneurs are a varied bunch, women over 50, often an almost invisible element in the workforce, are turning in increasing numbers to enterprise and self-employment. One important factor in the olderpreneur phenomenon is the overall growth in self-employment since 2000, which has been fuelled by the over-50s who are finding it increasingly hard to find full-time work. Also, rising retirement ages and increased life expectancy rates have left many women without income. According to one study, the number of women over 50 who were unemployed rose by almost 50% between 2010 and 2014, while the rise in general unemployment was only 1%.
No Expiration Date on Success: The Rise of the Middle-Age Female Entrepreneur
There are unique advantages that middle-age female entrepreneurs bring to the table. For example, a wealth of life and business experience is priceless when trying to launch a start-up, which rarely goes to plan. A bit of perspective goes a long way when confronting setbacks.
In addition, longevity tends to bring with it a wider network of consultants, professionals, and other people who can help a start-up, with connections or sound advice.
From a dollars and cents perspective, women approaching retirement in recent years are benefiting from new pension freedoms that make it possible to access lump sums, or borrow against the value of a pension, in order to fund a new venture.
So, while some studies have found that the advancement toward gender equality at work has slowed since the 1990s, the proliferation of olderpreneurs could prove to be a catalyst for greater gender parity in the business world.
From Sharon Argov
Sharon, VP of Growth at Hibob, is a serial entrepreneur with expertise in B2B marketing. Prior to Hibob, she served as the Marketing Director at 888 holdings. In addition, Sharon ran her own boutique marketing agency and was the CEO and Founder of Fundbird, a unique online platform that assists small UK businesses with funding solutions (acquired). In her free time, Sharon likes to watch documentaries and explore the cultural scene of Tel Aviv.