Boomers starting businesses to supplement retirement income

Empty nesters are driving small business economy, millennials want to expand it

Boomers starting businesses to supplement retirement income
Steve Randall

Canada’s seniors are showing their entrepreneurial spirit by being the drivers of the small business sector.

Bucking the traditional trend of ‘sliding into retirement’ Canada’s Baby Boomers – and particularly the ‘empty nesters’ – are choosing to run or start businesses.

With small businesses vital to the Canadian economy, the contribution made by older business owners is highlighted in a new report from RBC; 42% of business owners are boomers compared to 24% that are owned by millennials.

And the 2019 RBC Small Business Poll discovered that among those who had started or thought about starting a business, 46% are empty nesters.

So why aren’t Canadian seniors taking it easy in their retirement years?

The poll found that around half of those that have started or thought about starting a business want to continue using their experience and supplement their retirement income.

For empty nesters, their children leaving home has been the catalyst for starting a business although only 34% of boomers are motivated to start a business by having something to pass on to their children.

"The future looks bright for the Canadian economy, which is predominantly driven by small businesses," said Lori Darlington, Vice-President of Small Business and Strategic Partnerships, RBC. "Canadian boomers are incredibly entrepreneurial. Many are turning passion projects into new ventures and leveraging their extensive experience to fuel today's small business economy. At the same time, their spirit and leadership is inspiring the next generation of aspiring millennial entrepreneurs to build on the momentum."

Millennials want control, legacy
While the boomers are driving the small business economy, millennials are showing interest in entrepreneurship too.

The poll reveals that 70% of millennials have thought about starting a business and 53% of millennials who are not business owners have a side gig.

Their motivations for business ownership include having control over their career, doing something that aligns to their values, and bringing something new to the market.

Millennials are also keen to create something that can be passed down to their heirs (62% vs. 44% of the general population).

Cautious entrepreneurs
The keenness to start a business is tempered by a cautiousness to do it right with 68% saying that doing their research is the most important step in getting started.

For existing business owners, reaching out to new clients is seen as the most important thing they did to get started.

Connecting with investors is considered important by 12% of existing business owners but by 31% among aspiring entrepreneurs.

"Aspiring entrepreneurs today are more cautious about taking the leap into business ownership. Part of that may be generational and part of that may be influenced by the current economic and social environment," adds Darlington. "While caution and preparedness are important, it should never stand in the way of turning great ideas and entrepreneurial dreams into reality. The good news is, RBC has a wealth of insights, business advisors and solutions that go beyond traditional banking to help Canadians take the leap to ownership with greater confidence and ease."