Six Reasons Baby Boomers Should Be Working For Your Startup

A few months ago there were a series of articles about how entrepreneurs are over-the-hill by 25 years old. I knew immediately that was not true and articles have since been published showing that statistically, companies started by boomers are more successful.

Here are six reasons why that may be the case:

1. Experience
By definition, boomers have lived and worked longer than their younger peers. Particularly at startups, you will make mistakes. The experienced team members avoid basic, newbie business and technology pitfalls, reaching farther along the path to make new mistakes – the ones you inevitably have to make to be disruptive. If you’re reaching for the moon, you can get there faster with an experienced pilot.

2. Network
We all know that in business, especially with new businesses, it’s about who you know. Tapping your network is critical to early success and valuable customer introductions. Boomers have networks spanning decades, typically much bigger than those of Gen-X or Gen-Y peers and reaching higher into organizations. You cannot build that overnight and indeed, a great network is invaluable.

3. Stability
Boomers who join startups typically know what they are in for. Either they are financially stable enough to weather the storms or they have made calculated risks. You gain a broader foundation and base upon which to draw when you have lived long enough to have earned a few gray hairs.

4. People Skills
Boomers know how to engage in person, at the cafe and in the board room. You couldn’t “virtually” interact when boomers were growing up. Those real live life skills may be going by the wayside for youth today, but when it comes to developing business partnerships, negotiating deals and even hiring employees, there is no replacing face-to-face experience.

5. Crisis Buffer
Startups offer a truly fantastic roller coaster ride for those who chose that path. Sometimes, it gets a little hairy. With age, comes a mellowness that could only have been gained by knowing that however bad something is – it will change. This is what you learn in life – things change, crises pass. In life you learn, to be successful, one must look beyond near term chaos and pain to the real goal with a steady focus on the end game.

6. Efficiency
You may be thinking now that boomers are slow and methodical – which can be the case. How then, can that be better than a caffeinated 20-year-old? Efficiency. Work smarter, not harder. When you do something many times in life, you tend to figure out what you can shortcut and what you can’t. You can get 80% of the benefit with 20% of the effort in almost everything. It’s a universal rule. If you’re old enough to have heard that phrase a million times and have witnessed its raw power – you must be a boomer.

Having said all this, the very best company, large or small, has a diverse team – diverse in age, gender, background, etc. You can take any business to the next level if you can leverage the best everyone has to offer with a diverse group. There is strength in diversity. It is a universal, undeniable truth.

About Ivycorp

Mary Jesse is a wireless industry expert with more than 25 years of experience developing and operating wireless solutions in roles such as Vice President of Strategic Technology for McCaw Cellular Communications, Vice President of Technology Development for AT&T Wireless and Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of RadioFrame Networks. She is currently CEO of Ivycorp, developers and operators of Ivytalk, the world’s most powerful group messaging solution for business. Ms. Jesse was instrumental in developing and deploying the first large scale wireless data systems in the U.S. and has led development teams in the architecture, design and launch of numerous systems and products. Ms. Jesse is a licensed Professional Electrical Engineer, holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in electrical engineering and has authored more than a dozen patents. She frequently speaks on mobile, technology, business and entrepreneurship. In addition to volunteering her time to support STEM education and mentor girls and women in business, she currently serves on the board of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network and on the Advisory Board for the University of Washington STEM College. Follow her @TheMaryJesse and Follow Ivycorp @Ivytalk or like .
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5 Responses to Six Reasons Baby Boomers Should Be Working For Your Startup

  1. Joe Blaschka says:

    I agree! But many Boomers later in life might not want to work that hard but it is what keeps me going. It is all about attitude.

    • Bodya says:

      The very crux of your writing whsilt sounding reasonable at first, did not settle well with me personally after some time. Somewhere within the paragraphs you actually were able to make me a believer unfortunately only for a very short while. I however have got a problem with your jumps in logic and one might do well to help fill in all those breaks. In the event you actually can accomplish that, I could surely be amazed.

      • Ivycorp says:

        Thank you for your comment. Not only does the logic hold, but there have been many articles since this post touting the merits of seasoned employees. The benefits are real and manifesting themselves daily in our company. What is not said is the argument for more junior contributors as well. There is also a strong argument for a diverse team where each person can learn strengths from the other and the end product has the benefit of a range of talents and knowledge applied to it.

  2. leanfounder says:

    Mary – This is an interesting post. I have not met many startups with Baby Boomer employees, but tons with Baby Boomer mentors. Is it possible that Baby Boomers are more suited to mentorship/advisory roles than employment, or is this a missed talent opportunity. This has me thinking! Thanks. Matt

  3. Annabel says:

    I’m a baby boomer female founder of a tech startup. Over the last few years about 10 people have commented directly about my age and appearance (e.g. I look older than the “real” entrepreneurs) – to my face, on Twitter, in blog posts and comments. Every one of those 10 people was a woman. Go figure.

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