This is a guest post by Carlo Pandian
The Brave New World of Business-moms, Business-grannies and Teenaged Entrepreneurs.
The internet is awash with “work from home” opportunities illustrating how easy it is for a stay-at-home mom to earn a million while doing her nails and reading her favourite magazines. These adverts are there to trick people out of as much money as possible. However, those stay-at-home moms are part of increasing number of people choosing self-employment over employment. For women with kids to raise working for themselves can seem like the perfect way to balance work and domestic life. Another sector of the population that is finding the temptations of self-employment increasingly alluring is the “senior-preneur” group; those in their fifties and older who have given up on traditional employment and gone solo. Finally, young people in their teens and early twenties are also looking to run their own business rather than take traditional part time roles behind (other people’s) counters and as cinema attendants. These trends are global, but are strong in Canada, where self-employment is reaching rates of fifteen per cent as opposed to a static eight per cent only twenty years ago. So what are the attractions, and are there difficulties specific to each group?
Home But Not Alone
For young mothers in their late twenties and early thirties the real attraction seems to be the flexibility that self-employment offers. Job satisfaction is also a crucial feature – many find that on returning to work after maternity leave the roles available to them are not as interesting or challenging as those when they were young, free and single. This may be because they are forced by circumstances to seek part time work, which rarely offers the challenge or responsibility of a fulltime version. For those considering self-employment for these reasons it’s important to understand that flexibility is a two sided thing – fitting work around family sometimes equals a payoff where family get to fit themselves around work, whether they want to or not. It can work very well indeed but the myth that you call the shots when you work for yourself should be ignored; the clients call the shots.
The “senior-preneur” group of the newly self-employed come into the sector for a huge variety of reasons – including the freedom factor above. This group faces particular challenges during the recession, in that finding work can be a difficult – whatever equality legislation might say. Employers are faced with an onslaught of applicants for most roles and, whether discrimination is at play or not, the older you are the harder it seems to get noticed. However, those in their fifties have some very specific advantages over many other age groups when it comes to running their own businesses. In this age group the young mouths to feed have often flown the nest already. With less pressing domestic responsibilities, this age group often have more time to devote to work. Financially this group is often also more secure – with lower mortgage commitments and greater savings than younger entrepreneurs. Both of these factors put them in a strong position and combined with the experience and ability to know their own strengths and weaknesses, starting out in business at this age can have all the right ingredients for success.
The youngest of entrepreneurs have usually decided to go it alone in business simply because finding employment without experience leaves them in a Catch-22 situation. You can’t get one without the other. In addition, technology offers far more opportunities to this age group than previous teen generations. Today’s teenagers are the internet generation – they have grown up alongside the internet and have been technological experts, in many cases since they could walk. From free accounting software to social networking the internet offers simple solutions that have not been available to previous generations and this particular generation knows how to use them. By building their own businesses they are able to gain the all-important experience which can lead to success or even employment further down the line, should they choose that route. Lack of experience is a shortfall for this age group – and finding solutions, advice and listening to the latter both on or offline, is essential.
Traditional methods of doing business and the traditional image of the “businessman” have long been challenged. It seems that with the rise of technology, and in spite of recession, a whole new breed of ‘businesspeople’ is rapidly emerging.
Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer and blogs about business, entrepreneurs and technology covering everything from QuickBooks Online to social media management tools. He loves reading great entrepreneurs biographies and speaking at conferences about how the internet can help small businesses.
Image Credit: Common licensed image from Flickr