Redefining Entrepreneurship in later Life: a portfolio of treasures

Working longer in later life can be more like a portfolio of treasures and increasingly, over the last ten years, one option in that portfolio mix for many people has become some form of entrepreneurship. And for those who may feel that entrepreneurship is too weighty a word, as is often the case, let’s call it self-employment.

Over my some twenty years of entrepreneurial coaching, particularly with people north of say, age 55, I’ve tried to demystify this notion that an entrepreneurial endeavour is impossible or, that it’s an all or nothing risk. The most common phrase I typically hear is a riff on something like, “I need and/or want to work longer, but I want to do it differently.” The concept of “portfolio income streams” as I prefer to call it, gets away from this all or nothing thinking and also addresses another goal that many in later life are looking for – flexibility with a diversity of income.

This coming June, I will be taking this discussion on the road and in one case I will be a presenter at The Chang School, 50+ Festival at Ryerson University in Toronto.

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This annual four day event (June 1- 4, 2016) includes a host of different topics, and one of the streams sponsored by AGEWORKS is a workshop series dedicated to the topic of working later in life, under the banner

“What’s Next? Redefine You!”

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If working in the “what’s next?’” does not end up looking like owning or starting a business in the traditional sense of the word, it certainly will entail adapting an entrepreneurial or independent free-agent mind-set. You can’t orchestrate a personal portfolio of work activity (paid and/or unpaid) without that mind-set, even if that portfolio at some point contains a part time job.

Portfolios are fluid and certain entrepreneurial segments may be episodic in nature, reconstructing as, at different stages in later life, personal circumstances change the shape of a portfolio. Not without some structure and strategy, the treasures are of your own making, and you become the entrepreneurial wizard! It requires a more liberal look at who you can become with a little imagination, seeking out support and a new sense of how you can serve what the world really needs or wants you for, in a responsive way. That’s a redefinition of entrepreneurship.

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