Our story begins here…
Being part of the ‘silver generation’ – my husband, Jim, 69, and myself 64 – we are amazed at how surprised governments seem to be regarding the ‘explosion of numbers reaching pension age’ (their words, not ours). They have ‘suddenly’ become aware of the enormous problem they feel they have to solve. In the UK alone, there has been a 30% increase in numbers, this year over last year, of those reaching pension age. Of more concern is the fact that now this number will increase as a continuous flood of ‘old people’ – some 600,000 every year from now until 2018 becoming pensioners – in the UK alone. We ‘oldies’ are seen as a liability all the way around! And if that’s not enough, this same thing is happening virtually around the world. The prize has to go, however, to the fact that while the world continues aging and the ‘silver generation’ continues to be the major concern of our governments, those of us of in this age group still have sharp minds, usable skills and a growing pool of wisdom the likes of which the world has never seen before!
Now is the time to turn things around
We are the magic multiplier for a revolution in any economy that cares to assess the assets that are resident within our ranks! We, and our fellow baby boomers, have the clear potential to be ASSETS; to contribute not just to the coffers filled by taxpayers, but to becoming healthy and wealthy individuals with both the ability and the desire to continue to be wise members of our communities.
Jim and I are unprepared – as are many millions of our age group across the world – to sit in our easy chairs and wait for the grim reaper while simultaneously overburdening the health care system in our respective countries. That has never been the way we have seen ourselves. On the contrary, we have decades of wisdom, experience and expertise to offer, and we, my friends, are only the tip of the iceberg. We are highly motivated and want to be active and self-sufficient because we want to live the life that we have always been told exists as the ‘Golden Years.’ Now that we are here, we can’t find them, but we know that we can create them if given the opportunity to do so.
Our plan as our story unfolds
In the UK today more than 1.6 million people over 55 are running their own business (quoted from SME figures on national registers) and millions more may actually want to be doing the same things but may not have the courage to do so. Our plan – briefly stated – is to help those of the ‘silver generation’ who wish to realize and utilize their time more effectively mixing business into their weekly activities.
What do we need in order to steel our nerves – to create a small business enterprise? We need more than reassurance and bravado. We need more of a practical support system. We believe that would encourage a new creative and entrepreneurial energy in this cohort of people having gained wisdom through experience. We believe this is possible because we have many years of teaching and presenting critically needed information to a large cross section of individuals using an innovative educational model. We recently found a similar model with a history of success spanning more than 12 years in Malaysia, albeit for the younger generation. Our plan at this time is to work with those having created this model for the benefit of the silver generation. Together we hope to achieve the paradigm shift in education that has been too long in coming. What we need to do now is to find a way to get those with the power and the authority to get things done to recognize the experience and wisdom that we bring to the table.
Why is age not valued as a source of wisdom?
High court judges are appointed for life. Why? Because we value their wisdom – and wisdom only comes with experience which, for the most part, comes with age. Some people never retire because they are passionate about what they do. Their work is their passion. In these instances, where people are able to do what they are passionate about and get paid to do so, they never have to work a day in their lives. They are happy. They are healthy. They see the world through different eyes than those who spend 8 to 10 hours a day for 30+ years to earn a pay check in order to live a relatively comfortable life. And they do it so that one day they can enjoy the fruits of their labours – their ‘silver years.’
This may interest you:
- Many ‘retired’ people create start-ups or turn a life-long hobby into a business for two primary reasons:
- To have something to do that they enjoy doing rather than just becoming sedentary, or
- To supplement their retirement benefits (the government’s word, not ours) to relieve financial worries while doing something they enjoy doing.
- Studies show that a child’s natural creativity – found in more than 98% of all children starting school – is systematically ‘educated’ out of them by the time they reach have completed their 5th or 6th year of school
- The education model in use by virtually every institution of higher learning in the world today was developed in response to the growing need for workers for the increasing demand created by the growth and proliferation of industry that came into its own during the mid to late 1800’s[i]
- Retired people or those nearing retirement show a marked increase in creativity believed to be linked to not having to sell their time to the highest bidder any longer.
No one with a desire to continue working need necessarily stop because he or she ages into the ‘silver generation’ nor do they need necessarily stop doing those things we like to do. Using our natural talents and acquired skills or being motivated to get up and be active, are all key factors that will help us live a longer, healthier and potentially wealthier life. There are countless success stories of people beyond 55, beyond 60, beyond 65 … who have created successful small businesses and who have created highly successful businesses that have grown into multinational corporations. The point is … if it is something you want to do, you should be able to do it!
Being a statistician, I am intrigued by the multiplying factor that can be extracted from the statistics we have researched. The baby boomer demographic is unique if for no other reason than the sheer size of this particular cohort! More than that, we are at the tipping point NOW! It is, therefore, time to review the potential that is intrinsic within us.
Let’s look at the global picture of a world in economic crisis
Do we have viable and applicable answers? We are confident that we do. There are 945 million people in the world today between the age 55-74, and taking just that demographic, if 10% of the non-working members of this cohort begin or continue to build a business/life, run their own enterprise, collaborate with others or gain employment, that 10% (remember, we talking 94.5 million people who would in some way create no more than one job space per individual) would not only reduce the number of people/households depending upon the government for some form of assistance – from pensions to health care to welfare – but would, in fact, broaden the tax base and contribute dramatically back to the nation in the form of tax revenue. The other side of the coin is, this 10% would potentially be more motivated and healthy because of the dignity gained from being considered something other than the liability that we are identified as today.
Now let’s take the UK as an example.
The United Kingdom is my home land and one I know well. The ‘silver generation’ – once encouraged to create start-ups – may no longer wish to be engaged in the 40+ hour work week and indeed prefer a more balanced approach to business and life in general. Technology allows us that freedom – the opportunity to leverage our time in such a way that one is neither required to spend 3 to 5 hours a day commuting, nor is he/she required to spend 8 to 10 hours a day in a cubicle or office that has a tendency, in many instances, to obstructs one’s creativity and innovative predisposition. Without having to be restricted to the oftentimes drab confines of an office, one is free to generate a revenue stream sufficient to adequately supplement other income which in turn offers a more comfortable lifestyle.
If only 10% of the UK’s ‘silver generation’ were to create a one person commercially viable enterprise – one with sufficient revenue to incur taxes payable of £1000 per annum – the net increase to the government in tax revenue alone would be approximately £1 bilion.
Let’s suppose too that these enterprising ‘liabilities’ created just one job space in addition to their own – a job space filled by one other person – we have then simultaneously reduced the national unemployment figures significantly and added even more grateful citizens to the roles of the active tax payer.
Perhaps the ‘silver generation’ is capable of being perceived as something other than a cohort out to steal the future of those coming behind. Is that possible?
[i] The educational model currently in use by virtually every school, college and university around the world today was developed in response to the rapidly increasing need for employees to meet the demands of what is referred to as the Second Industrial Revolution or the Technical Revolution of the mid 1800’s. The independent discovery – by Henry Bessemer (the Bessemer process) of England in 1855 and William Kelley of the United States in 1851 – of a cost effective industrial process for the mass production of steel led to an unprecedented expansion in manufacturing which in turn led to the simultaneous development of the employee focused teaching/learning model that prevails today.