.A new Dutch government program called SeniorStart “aims at stimulating successful entrepreneurship by older (45+) people who have lost or left their jobs or are re-entering the workforce after an extended period, by creating a dedicated (virtual) professionally-staffed National Service Centre and supporting the sharing of knowledge and experience between experienced senior entrepreneurs and new startups through regional networks”.

The National Service Centre offers the following services.

  • Connecting new entrepreneurs with experienced entrepreneurs.
  • An online test and preparedness courses that assesses the capabilities and readiness of new entrepreneurs.
  • A computer program that steps entrepreneurs through the business planning process. If desired the resultant plan can be evaluated by professionals.
  • Expert financial, business planning, pension benefit securing and franchising advice.

Regional networks, staffed by 50-80 senior entrepreneurs each, will be set up initially in three of Holland’s twelve provinces, and later expanded to all provinces. They will function as platforms for sharing knowledge and idea incubators for qualifying new entrepreneurs. Knowledge and ideas will be leveraged nationally by the Service Centre and its sponsors.

The project is financed by the Taskforce on Older People and Employment, the GAK (Industrial Insurance Administration Office), the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the WISE (Working Network and Information Centre for Senior Entrepreneurs) Foundation. It was co-developed by WISE and MKB, an umbrella group of over 500 trade organizations and business associations.

This is a wonderful initiative, one that deserves to be studied and emulated in other countries.

Now, what I’d really like to see is a network that connects these older, experienced aspiring entrepreneurs with the other group that desperately needs advice on how to set up a new business — young people just graduating from school and unwilling to enter into a lifelong contract of wage slavery as menial employees to pay off their student loans — and then advises both groups on how to set up and operate a successful entrepreneurial business.

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  1. Ben koot says:

    Dave,Thanks for this article. About your idea of connecting the older with younger entrepreneurs that might not be as easy as you think. Like in other countires we do have a network of ex corporate managers offering business advise to younger entrepreneurs in Tulip country. Basicaly if younger starters feel the need for advice, it’s matter of contacting those people. That said, there is one snag, the generation game. The way older folks look at running a business can be quite diferent to the ideas of the younger folks, so many will say, why ask somebody with the same age as my parents.Especialy in todays changing world this becomes an important issue. On an other angle, having been succesfull in business doen’t mean your role as a coach will be equally succesful. In this respect my personal experience with an ex manager of a Multinational, who was part of the coaching scheme, was quite disappointing. The man didn’t even realize entrepreneurs can’t talk to a bank manager in the same way he was used to’s not black and white ofcourse, and it’s great to the option to call the experienced if needed but sharing experience with people in the same situation is more rewarding solution IMHO. That’s what we aim to achieve with Seniorstart. It might just be that using internet and IRL meetings in a smart way will help braking down the tradional bariers in knowledge sharing.CheersBen

  2. Jon Husband says:

    I remember the times right in the middle of the boom when there were a number of articles about how people over say, 40, just didn’t and couldn’t “get it”.Then the pendulum swung – it was back to “business basics”, and the smackdown/clampdown started.I just noticed an article lead on the most recent HBR about our current times of “austerity”, and there have been numerous articles in the past year about how little innovation and experimentation is under consideration.I suspect that good questions and supportive common sense will always be effective currency in matching up needs with resources – and there are no doubt many examples of this available from seasoned managers and bright motivated young entrepreneurs and thinkers/doers.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Ben: Thanks. I appreciate the dilemma you face. There is a shortage of good coaches (sometimes successful entrepreneurs are so jaded and entrenched in their ideas they make terrible coaches), and two different audiences that need them — one old and cynical and experienced in business, the other young and energetic and full of ideas, both of which need advice on how to start a business that is practical but creative and not doctrinaire. Getting the three together — young ideas, old business experience, and good coaching — is not easy, since there is an inherent distrust and skepticism between the three groups.

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