AUSTRALIAN seniors are an entrepreneurial bunch.
A new Swinburne University study of Australian 'seniorpreneurs' shows about one third of all new firms in Australia are led by seniors, and that figure could grow if more targeted supports were put in place.
About 590,000 start-up business owners in Australia are over 50, and seniors are the fastest growing entrepreneurial group.
About 8 per cent of Australians aged 55-64 are entrepreneurs, about 3 per cent above the average for innovation-driven economies, however 79 per cent did not have any employees.
Chief investigator Alex Maritz said there had been little recognition of the potential of older people to participate in start-ups and turn them into large employers, or or the need for older people to create their next job rather than apply for it.
"Older people often have the skills, financial resources and time available to contribute to economic activity, which is why we're seeing a growing number of seniorpreneurs."
The study surveyed more than 460 seniors and found senior entrepreneurs worked fewer hours per week than their younger counterparts, had more industry experience, invested more in their business and earned higher profits averaging $264,000 per annum.
Most did not identify losing a job as a motive.
About 75 per cent identified entrepreneurial activities as a means of maintaining an active lifestyle and achieving personal goals.
The researchers found 67 per cent of older people said there was a lack of information on starting a business.
They identified specific networking sessions for seniors, access to senior-specific start-up capital, legislative support and tools to identify potential senior entrepreneurs as possible measures that could be taken to improve opportunities.
Melbourne-based technology and innovation specialist Guy Inbar and Bambi Price said groups like Ms Price's
Seniorpreneurs Foundation were helping meet the growing need for education and support for older people with start-up ideas.
"We realised there was a massive community out there who through want or necessity were looking at starting their own business," Mr Inbar said.
"Most people are realising they don't have enough superannuation to retire and you need to keep doing something to keep your health and wellbeing in check."
The organisation has more than 500 members in three states and holds regular meet-ups.
"We had a group of 70-year-old engineers who came to us with a brilliant product idea but were unsure of how to start a business," Ms Price said.
"We offer help for people like these engineers because we know there is very little government assistance out there."
Associate Professor Maritz said promoting self-employment as a viable late-career option could encourage older people to stay in the workforce longer and create jobs and tax revenue.
Information at www.seniorpreneurs.foundation