Thumbtack Releases New Research on Baby Boomer Entrepreneurship

Baby boomers are starting small businesses as second and third careers, view experience as asset in landing customers

SAN FRANCISCO--()--Today Thumbtack, the app and website that finds you local professionals for any project, releases its latest research on baby boomer entrepreneurs. Thumbtack surveyed more than 14,000 small business owners 55 and older across the United States to evaluate the business friendliness of their local governments, what motivated them to start their own small business and how their experience impacts their business success.

Nineteen percent of Thumbtack pros are 55-years-old or older, and this is the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs on the platform,” said Thumbtack economist Lucas Puente, PhD. “While these baby boomers love the freedom and flexibility their Thumbtack businesses offer, they also feel economically empowered with expectations of higher earnings serving as one of the primary motivators for launching their own business.”

Highlights from the research:

  • Career Transition - Increasingly, workers in their fifties and sixties are becoming small business owners to find meaningful second and third careers later in life. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of baby boomers using Thumbtack reported they were on their second or third career compared to only 54 percent of Thumbtack users under 55.
  • Experience is an Asset - Baby boomers overwhelmingly believe their years of experience is a major asset in landing clients, with 86 percent reporting they choose to highlight their years of experience in their pitch to customers.
  • Supplement Interests and Income - A majority of baby boomers chose to work primarily because they enjoy providing services (36 percent) and to supplement income for extra expenses (16 percent) compared to 48 percent who work primarily to pay basic necessities. This is significantly higher than pros under 55 where only 27 percent report working primarily for enjoyment. In addition, nearly two-in-five pros in this age bracket tell us that the ability to increase (not just maintain) their take home earnings was a primary factor in taking the plunge into self-employment.
  • Pride in Business Ownership - Ninety-two percent of baby boomers reported they were proud to be small business owners.

I do this because I love it,” said Deb Goldstein, a Thumbtack pro life coach from Boston who left corporate America and went back to college at 58. “When people hit mid-life, they really need more mission and purpose, care and motivation in their lives. That’s when I started my business. It is just so enormously rewarding.”

In terms of the best cities for baby boomer entrepreneurs to start, operate and grow a small business, this year Boston ranked first for small business friendliness. 64.7 percent of the baby boomers running a small business in Boston told us that their local government was “somewhat” or “very supportive” of businesses like theirs, compared to 49.0 percent nationally. In terms of what survey respondents want from local government, lower or simplified taxes ranked first and expanded training or education opportunities ranked second. Additional top cities include: Phoenix, Riverside, Calif., Washington, D.C., Denver and Houston.

For more details, please visit our interactive survey results page.

Top Cities for Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs

1. Boston
2. Phoenix
3. Riverside, Calif.
4. Washington, D.C.
5. Denver
6. Houston
7. Tampa, Fla.
8. West Palm Beach, Fla.
9. Atlanta
10. Philadelphia

5. Top Occupations for Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs

(By volume)

1. Handyman
2. General Contractor
3. House Cleaner
4. Painter
5. Photographer

Survey Methodology

Across four months in 2017 and 2018, Thumbtack Economist, Lucas Puente, PhD, surveyed 14,902 skilled professionals from across the U.S., operating across hundreds of categories, including as electricians, music teachers, wedding planners, wellness professionals and more. The survey asked these entrepreneurs about the policies of their states and cities toward small business, as well as what it’s like to start and run a small business in their community. For the survey methodology, please visit:

About Thumbtack

Thumbtack, headquartered in San Francisco, was created to solve a seemingly simple problem: local professionals need customers so they can run and grow their business. Customers need local pros too, but have trouble finding the right ones. So in 2008, the Thumbtack founders developed a marketplace bringing the two together. Since then, the platform helped hundreds of thousands of skilled professionals build successful businesses and 25 million customers with everything from plumbing, to catering, to personal training to math tutoring. Learn more at


Justine Gananian

Release Summary

Thumbtack Releases New Research on Baby Boomer Entrepreneurship


Justine Gananian