Exploring the ‘second phase’ as a springboard for opportunity
Despite the popular image of a 20 year old daylight-deprived individual wearing flip flops in an office without chairs, the average entrepreneur is over 40. And there are more baby boomers starting businesses than millennials. Research undertaken last year by Pierre Azoulay and J. Daniel Kim of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, Benjamin Jones of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Javier Miranda of the Census Bureau’s Centre for Administrative Records Research, revealed that the older the founder, the more likely the business is to succeed:
“We find that age indeed predicts success, and sharply, but in the opposite way that many observers and investors propose…The highest success rates in entrepreneurship come from founders in middle age and beyond.”
In her regular column on female entrepreneurs for Forbes Kerry Hannon highlights the growth of female entrepreneurs in the US. There are now 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the states, employing nearly 9 million and generating more than $1.7 trillion in revenue. She asserts that middle age is a perfect time to start a business. Kimberley A Eddleson of Northeastern University comments;
“Research shows that women’s confidence at work increases with age while at the same time, their facility responsibilities - especially related to child bearing and rearing - decrease..This makes entrepreneurship over 50 a great idea and a possibility”.
Not all of us choose to have kids, but the menopause also clashes with what is often referred to as as Generation Sandwich; the phase of life where we are also taking care of ageing parents. Struggling to balance taking care of ourselves at this time can often be a catalyst for change. And the menopause can bring renewed conviction and determination alongside less pleasant symptoms. The Chinese have a beautiful phrase for the menopause; the Second Spring. Not only do they manage the menopause so much better through diet, but they celebrate it as an opportunity to realise potential and set a course for the second stage of life. This mindset is particularly valuable to our generation; unlike our ancestors in the early 19th century who experienced the menopause later (average age estimated to be 52) and died about 7 years’ later, we are likely to live 50% of our lives post-menopausal.
So, can we reframe the menopause transition as an opportunity to ‘-pause’, take stock and set the course for our collective futures? What would tomorrow hold if you could apply all you have experienced so far in life and work? What gaps can you spot based on the needs you have that aren’t filled? Why not simply start?