Today, one in every five American workers is over 65, and in 2020, one in four American workers will be over 55, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, more people aged 55-to-64 have created companies since 1996 than 20 to 34-year-olds according to a recent study from AARP – and today they’re reaping the rewards of that hard work in their 60s and beyond.
So which cities are likely to be the friendliest to older entrepreneurs and where are they most likely to succeed?
The New Face of Entrepreneurship
Each year at Thumbtack we survey our network of small businesses to find out what they want from their city and state governments. This year, we looked at nearly 1,000 responses that we received from small business owners over the age of 65 to see if their needs were any different from other small business owners.
Older small business owners were some of the most experienced business owners in our study – 56 percent said they had previously started a small business, and 72 percent had been in business for themselves for 5 or more years, as compared to 45 percent across the entire sample. They were also more likely to work alone with no employees (63 percent compared to 57 percent overall), and were much more likely to report that their business was a side job or represented secondary income – 43 percent of seniors said this as compared to 35 percent overall.
The 10 Best Cities for Seniors
So which cities are doing the best for senior entrepreneurs? We looked at our metric called Overall Business Friendliness, and saw which cities had the highest grades according to the seniors in our study.
Compared to other small business owners, seniors were far more concerned about unemployment, the federal budget deficit, and Social Security than younger generations of business owners, and they were far less concerned about health care costs, and personal debt including student loans.
The senior entrepreneurs in our study were also far more likely to self-identify as “strong liberal” or “strong conservative,” in marked contrast to the millennial small business owners we talked to, who were less likely to have strong political affiliations.
Finally, we ran an analysis to learn which factors most mattered to senior entrepreneurs in informing their views on whether or not their government was friendly to small businesses. Similar to other age groups, seniors told us that the three most important factors to them when evaluating their local government were the presence of helpful training and networking programs, easy to understand tax regimes, and licensing rules that were easy to follow and well enforced.
You might think that a more experienced group of small business owners would be less likely to value training and networking programs, but like skilled entrepreneurs everywhere, seniors also benefit from the opportunities that come when a city or civic organization offers programs to help them learn how to succeed in their business or meet fellow entrepreneurs. All of the cities on our Top 10 list offered were strong in the areas that seniors valued most.
You can explore more data from our Small Business Friendliness Survey here.