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Start Your Business Entrepreneurs

For Baby Boomer 'Solopreneurs,' Business Is Booming

There are more than 5 million boomers working as independent consultants . / Credit: Boomer in office image via Shutterstock

Nearly 5 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 have decided to go it alone into the world of business and work as "solopreneurs." But these are not workers who have been set adrift by traditional employers with few other options besides self-employment. More than half of them chose to be independent, new research shows.

What's more, they tend to be more satisfied and earn a higher income than their younger counterparts working independently, the research shows. They're also highly educated:  Sixty-six percent have graduated from college. A slight majority, 53 percent, of these solopreneurs are female, a surprising difference from the roughly 33 percent of traditional small businesses that are run by women.

The research, sponsored by MBO Partners, a services provider for independent consultants, was based on two separate surveys of people who work at least 15 hours per week in nontraditional, nonpermanent, full- or part-time employment, including workers who identify themselves as independent consultants, freelancers, independent contractors, self-employed and on-call workers, among others.

[The Unretiring Kind: Boomers Gear Up for Second Careers]

 Most of boomers surveyed (83 percent) held traditional jobs before they became independent workers.  And they’ve done well at it. The average income of the independent boomer is $77,000.

Generally, boomers working on their own didn’t enter the world of independence unwillingly. In fact, 59 percent chose to be independent and just 23 percent said job loss was a reason for selecting that path. And they seem to feel they made the right choice.

More than 85 percent are satisfied, with a full 70 percent reporting that they are highly satisfied versus 58 percent for all age groups combined. Only 5 percent of independent boomers are dissatisfied with their work style — much lower than the already low 11 percent for independents overall. What’s more, the vast majority (84 percent) said they plan to continue as independents over the next three years. A mere 8 percent expect to seek a traditional job.

Boomers enjoy being independent for a number of reasons. They like being challenged and motivated (61 percent), making an impact (56 percent) and being their own boss (60 percent). What’s more, it’s not about monetary gain. In fact, for boomers, flexibility (79 percent) and doing what they like (77 percent) are more important than money.

"In the face of recent financial uncertainty and a tumultuous job market, many in the boomer generation have turned adversity into opportunity and taken charge of their lives by working independently," said Gene Zaino, CEO of MBO Partners. "Our newly released report shows that 8 million boomers are considering independent work. We project that within the next two years we will see the boomer independent workforce grow by an additional 1.2 million."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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