Boomer Bioentrepreneurs Handbook

by Arlen Meyers

Boomer Bioentrepreneurs Handbook

Boomers are back on stage for an encore.Whether it’s for financial reasons or a chance to try something new, more baby boomers are embarking on an encore career—a second professional career that can bring in not only money but often the fulfillment that may have been lacking the first time around the career bend.

In fact, adults over the age of 50 comprise one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the United States, according to a new Gallup study. Among those people who don’t currently own a business, baby boomers are twice as likely as millennials to say they plan to start a business in the next year.

Here are 5 myths about boomers:

MYTH 1: I’m not going to find a good job.

REALITY: Baby boomers are getting jobs with better pay, status and working conditions than prior generations of older workers.

Myth 2: You can’t take time off, or you’ll never get back into the workforce.

REALITY: About 40% of people who retire take a break and then return to work, typically within two years.

MYTH 3: I’m not going to make as big of a contribution as I did in the past.

REALITY: Older workers can play a more vital role than ever.

MYTH 4: The only type of work available to older applicants is part time.

REALITY: Since 1995, the number of people age 65 or older working full time has more than tripled.

MYTH 5: The chance to be an entrepreneur has passed me by.

REALITY: Americans in their 50s and 60s make up a growing share of entrepreneurs.

Startups have been decreasing lately. It might have to do with the aftershock of the Great Recession or it might be attributable to generational attitudes about risk. It seems, though, that those born between 1946-64 say they are interested in a 2nd act.

While some say, because of the Internet, that it’s never been easier to start a business, Newco survival rates are abysmally small. It’s even more treacherous for those interested in biomedical or health entrepreneurship. There are several reasons why:

1. The Life Science Innovation Roadmap is a complicated path filled with intellectual property, regulatory, reimbursement and business model challenges that few can master.

2. There is more than just one customer. There are not just patients, but providers, payers and other ecosystem partners.

3. Health policy changes on an almost daily basis and it is highly uncertain.

4. Healthcare USA is 90% sickcare and 10% disease prevention and wellness, driven mostly by reimbursement rules.

5. Fee for service is changing to value and bundled payments and everyone is trying to figure out how to make the transition while killing the almost $3T cash cow.

6. Digital health has introduced big challenges and opportunities that are intoxicating for technopreneurs, but extremely hazardous for those who are not familiar with the medical culture.

7. Biomedical products and services take a long time and a lot of money to get to market.

8. Remember, we are talking about technologies, products and businessess intended to diagnosis and treat people. Human subject trials are arduous and require particular areas of expertise.

9. It is mostly a fools errand trying to change patient behavior.

10. Bioentrepreneurs, like all entrepreneurs, need education, networks, mentors, resources and experiential learning to develop. Those things are not readily available in most communities.

Polls and surveys indicate that graduating medical students and residents are more risk averse and are opting to work for someone else instead of taking on the risks of independent practice, which are dropping about 2% each year.

In addition, boomer entrepreneurs are interested in mostly making more money or pursuing a particular interest. That is not a formula for success, since few seem genuinely interested in solving a unmet market need.

Boomer bioentrepreneurs seem more willing to jump into the pool with both feet, but, they will find the water to be very cold and deeper than they thought it would be.

 
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Arlen MyersArlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org and co-editor of Digital Health Entrepreneurship

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