Entrepreneurs are often willing to trade off security and a predictable income in exchange for the increased happiness they get from working on their own.

Longer and healthier lifespans are enticing increasing numbers of Canadians to remain in the workforce longer. So it should hardly come as a surprise that many are also starting their own businesses. A recent Sheridan Centre for Elder Research study found that Canadians over age 50 comprise the fastest growing category of new entrepreneurs.

The study, The Status of Senior Entrepreneurship in Canada, cited several reasons for the increased popularity. These range from a desire to continue to leverage existing skills, to earn more money and for greater control of work and lifestyles.

Photo: Ted Mallet.

“Becoming an entrepreneur later in life is more the rule than the exception,” says Ted Mallet, vice-president and chief economist at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “The sweet spot is between the ages of 40 and 49.” By that time prospective entrepreneurs have accumulated experience, capital and personal contacts – none of which they generally have earlier in their careers.

Mallet, who cites lawyers, accountants, engineers and other professionals as particularly well-suited for entrepreneurship, should know. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which has the thankless task of defending entrepreneurs against special interest groups in Ottawa and provincial capitals, offers a range of services to help them along. These include articles on subjects such as how to structure your company, how to pitch your idea to prospective partners and investors, plus steps to take to open a business.

Securing financing friends, family and banks

Yet while older prospective entrepreneurs have broader access to financial resources, that isn’t always enough. Many will need outside financing. That process generally starts with seeking out “love money.” Asking family and friends to back you isn’t easy. However, if you don’t take that first step, financial professionals will wonder why they should lend to you, if the people who know you the best won’t.

Canadian banks offer a wide variety of business loan services. For example, RBC’s website is chock-full of information about short, medium, long-term loans to finance everything from the purchase of new equipment to expanding operations.

 

Entrepreneurs have a great sense of control and satisfaction with their work. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, C.C. Chapman.

Happier and healthier

That said, even for those that have all of the tools, starting up isn’t easy. In today’s competitive economy, being the best, the most reliable or the cheapest is rarely enough. Generally, you need to be all three. Experts suggest that you take the time to create a detailed business plan with a cash-flow forecast. That process includes identifying your target market, confirming the need for your product or service and developing a clear competitive advantage.

The good news is that going out on your own could be well worth it. A study by MBO Partners suggests that 81 percent of independent workers report being happier and 60 percent report being healthier. The study concludes that people are often willing to trade off security and a predictable income in exchange for the increased happiness they get from working on their own.

Have a dream? Go for it!