While Boomers are often maligned for being out of touch, millions of entrepreneurial members of this generation are showing that nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that nearly half of small business owners are Boomers, and so many more are now eagerly embracing opportunities in the gig economy.
Often billed as a space reserved for millennials and younger, the gig economy is actually very diverse. Sure, the term itself might be relatively new. But there are a wide range of ways for absolutely anyone to get into the game.
In fact, in many regards, this is actually the generation that is leading the way. The following represent just a few of opportunities that Boomers are taking advantage of and the underlying reasons they are diving in.
1. Driving Away from Retirement
While it is illegal, many older workers face age discrimination in the workplace. Whether it’s a sense that they can’t keep up with new tech tools or simply their high salary built up over decades of experience, workers in their late-50s and 60s are often the first to be hit by corporate layoffs.
More and more are fed up with going on interview after interview only to keep getting turned down. So, instead, they are taking to driving apps like Uber and Lyft, which have both been courting senior riders for years. In their own cars, they are their own boss. No longer do they have to sit back and watch younger, less talented coworkers get promoted ahead of them for the wrong reasons. Here, they are in control of their own destiny and can either combine their ride-hailing with other side gigs or just spend their final years driving in the workforce before retirement.
2. Supplemental Income
Another common scenario that draws Boomers to gig work is simply a desire for some supplemental income. They may be of retirement age, but they have plenty of life left in these legs. Not everybody wants to sit around the house all day or work on their golf swing all day. They may not absolutely need the money, but it definitely helps.
The average Boomer on the gig economy platform Wonolo, for example, is bringing in $573 per month — more than any other generation using the service. And this figure jumps to $1,003 per month in Northern California. With this much on the table, it’s easy to see why plenty of people who don’t want full-time work, but aren’t ready to retire, are happy adopters.
3. Independent Business Owners
As illustrated by small business ownership statistics, Boomers have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. And one of the best ways that many are continuing to scratch this itch is through direct sales. Companies like Amway have made it easy for them to become independent business owners, and this opens up a world where they can do as much or little as they want. Some have turned this into a full-time job with a better salary than they brought home in their original careers. Others just love the opportunity to make a little side income that they use to spoil their grandchildren or stay connected to a vibrant community of like-minded entrepreneurs.
While the company solidified its reputation as a global leader in the industry decades ago — just as Boomers were in their prime — some remain hesitant because of lingering, but debunked, myths. The reality is that there is no Amway pyramid scheme. That myth has been debunked. Amway has empowered countless people, of all generations, to make a living, and it’s no surprise that the oldest, wisest workers in the economy are taking advantage.
Gigs at Any Age
You’re only as old as you feel. If you aren’t ready to exit the workforce — don’t. Boomers are now showing that attitude in mass. Their enduring spirit and ability to transition into gig economy work should be seen as a model for their younger counterparts to follow.
Many love driving or picking up other gigs to exit a traditional workforce that keeps trying to leave them behind. Others just aren’t quite ready to enter retirement and could use the supplemental income. And still more just can’t quite shake that entrepreneurial and sales bug.
Ultimately, age ain’t nothing but a number. People should never be defined by it. And the gig economy has become a shining example that anyone — from any generation — can keep making their own way.