The beauty and joy of starting your own business might turn out to be an ugly blemish if you are older and fail.
Increasingly, it is more difficult for workers ages 55-plus to re-enter the corporate world if they have gone out on their own. The U.S. estimates that as many as 2 million older workers have left jobs over the past five years to start their own companies. That’s in addition to a large group of others who were driven into “early retirement” by the nation’s economic slump even though they wanted to work longer.
You might think that someone who is resourceful and motivated to develop his or her own business would be an attractive addition to most companies, but that simply isn’t the case.
In addition to obstacles such as financing your business, working long hours and risking your own money, you can add to the list that it will be more difficult to re-enter the corporate world if you are unsuccessful.
Those are the findings of a study recently conducted by professors from the University of Vienna, the Munich School of Management, and Erasmus University in the Netherlands.
The researchers submitted fake resumes to job postings in the United Kingdom with nearly identical job histories except that one group of candidates had own their own businesses. Candidates in that group received 63 percent fewer positive responses from prospective employers.
The resumes of older workers who did not start companies got nearly three times as much hiring attention as those of workers who started their businesses.
The corporate message came in loud and clear to Brandon Smith, a career coach who teaches about workplace culture and communication at Emory University and Georgia State University.
“The common knocks against entrepreneurs are: they don’t like to play by other people’s rules; they don’t like having a boss; they may not necessarily play well with others; and once you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, it’s a hard bug to shake,” he says.
Of course, you can argue these criticisms point by point. Entrepreneurs often have to answer to more than one “boss” as they develop their companies and probably stand little chance of succeeding unless they do work well with others. And while becoming an entrepreneur can be intoxicating, there are many workers who wind up wishing they had have never left their steady jobs behind.
But this study reveals that having a vision and mind of your own might not sit well in the corporate world today, especially if you are older.
This is an incredible blind spot in corporate America. Those businesses are turning their backs on people who have the tools and experiences to help companies when they need it most.
Businesses stumble when they fail to change as market conditions evolve and they are locked into systems they have used for decades. It’s time that they took a close look at people who have the vision and courage to start their own and tap into them.