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A boom in boomer entrepreneurship has taken analysts by surprise. Research by Duke University's Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization shows that the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity has shifted in the past three years from 20-somethings to those in the 55-to-64 age group.

In fact, the age of entrepreneurs may be advancing. Many boomers lost home value and retirement savings, if not jobs, in the recession and yet are living longer and healthier lives. They're finding it harder to compete with younger people for jobs—boomers' experience and salary requirements often mean employers can't afford to hire them. Self-employment, for many, is the best and sometimes only option.

What does it take to start your own business? Possessing technical creativity—an original idea, a new way to solve a problem, the ability to take advantage of new opportunities—is the first step in starting a business.

Whether you are inherently creative or not, you can develop this first-step quality:

  • Adjust your attitude. Self-perception often is the main difference between creative and uncreative people. Creative people give themselves the freedom to create, and you can learn to do this, too. Creativity doesn't exclude discipline. One way to start is to regularly set aside just 30 seconds a day to ask yourself if there's a better way to do something.
  • Imagine. Scan your environment for simple potential consumer issues, needs, or problems and picture different ways to address them. Allow yourself time to develop insights on different ways to take advantage of new opportunities. As you develop confidence, investigate issues that are more complex.
  • Research. Learn as much as you can about subjects that interest you. Read or talk to others who share your interests; this is where new ideas crop up.

The U.S. Small Business Administration's website contains detailed information about the steps to successful entrepreneurship—from finding a mentor, writing a business plan, getting training and assistance, picking a location, and accessing capital—to the nuts and bolts of registering your business, handling taxes, and more.

Published April 27, 2012

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