The over 50s entrepreneur.
Why your fifties are the best time to become an entrepreneur.
Think of an entrepreneur and you may think of the people with the big business idea, set to pitch their idea to the dragons/sharks on TV. But it’s not just about the vision to create a large company.
Entrepreneurship is the process of designing, launching, and running a new business, this can be to produce something and also to offer a service. As an entrepreneur we invest our money, take the risks with the hope of making a profit. We aren’t paid a salary and come up with the business idea ourselves. It’s not only about making a massive profit, it’s also about personal fulfilment.
As part of my research for my book Find Work at 50+ I spoke with many people who had decided to go it alone. To become an over 50s entrepreneur. Often it was redundancy that gave them the push to make an idea happen. They had a financial cushion, but they also had many years of experience of helping other companies to be successful and now the time was right to do it for themselves, often on a smaller scale.
Their choices made by the over 50s entrepreneur fell into 3 areas: working as a freelancer, building a business based on an interest/hobby or a new idea in the technology space.
Over 50s entrepreneur – Freelance work/ consultancy
This can be to work in a similar area to where they had worked before, possibly also taking on interim management roles. This isn’t necessarily the easy option. Just because you were good as an internal consultant/ senior manager, it doesn’t mean you will have the natural aptitude to sell/ market yourself. When I set up my business psychology consultancy back in 1997 my MBA was not as helpful as Id assumed, so I took a small business course and set about creating and following my business plan. Some of the people I spoke with were able to work for 2-3 days a week with their previous employer, earning more money than as an employee. But you can’t make assumptions/ put all your eggs in one basket and need to use this as a pivot to get a wider client base.
Mehul had a passion for property and a background in finance and set up a business offering mortgage and property advice as well as consultancy services for property finding and property management.
Over 50s entrepreneur – Basing a business on a passion/ interest/hobby
Not everyone wants more of the same. For others they see this as a chance to do something different, and this can be to take a hobby. I’ve met people who set up specialist picture framing businesses, created bespoke furniture, sold antique coins online or becoming a Yoga teacher etc. Mary had qualified as a Feldenkrais Practitioner a few years ago but hadn’t wanted to take the risk to give up her accountancy practice. Being clear on the benefits of this approach for breathing and posture for herself and her children she is now ready to set up her own business in this method to a wider audience.
We often have strong knowledge we can refer to; we’ve been in business and understand how to do business accounts, hire people, find resources. We can often use our savings to develop a business, we don’t have to get outside funding.
Over 50s entrepreneur – Using your people management skills
With strengths in managing and leadership you may like to set up a business where there is a higher level of people management, such as a cleaning or home care business. This worked for Alison and buying into a franchise has been so profitable for her she is now ready to set up another one as the cleaning business takes care of itself due to putting a good team in place.
Over 50s entrepreneur – Tech start-ups/ App development
These are often seen as something for the very young but creating an app or joining a tech start up can play to our strengths.
People read about how much money could be made and have an idea I talk to clients about how they don’t need to be the technical expert; they can buy this resource, but they do need the idea first. The focus has to be on creating an app that is going to be wanted in the marketplace and that people would be willing to pay for, or they can gain marketing revenue from it.
There are clear benefits of being part of a team, perhaps being a co-founder, bringing in a different perspective to a younger workforce and of course drawing on their wealth of business expertise and contacts, and of course, generally, excellent communication skills.
10 key tips for the over 50s contemplating making a move to an Over 50s entrepreneur
- Having a good idea is essential and do your research to make sure that you have a good chance of success. Imagine you are facing the dragons (on Dragons Den) would your projections stand up to scrutiny?
- A lifestyle business may be enough to keep you interested and interesting, to bring in additional income but also allow you time to enjoy life.
- Talk with your partner. Their view of life at 50+ may be very different to yours. If they want to begin to wind things down and want to spend their time doing the crossword and country walks how will it fit when you want to travel the country selling your products?
- Play to your strengths even as a solopreneur you don’t have to do everything so be clear on what you do well and what you can outsource.
- Consider the risks especially if you are investing your pension income. Can you afford to take the hit if things don’t work out?
- Look after your health make time for keeping fit. What would happen to your business if you got ill, especially in the early days.
- Be happy to work from home don’t go renting expensive premises unless essential, it takes a lot of time to earn the money to pay for expensive offices.
- Talk with people you have probably got a wide network of people you know, tell them about your new business idea, get them excited so they will tell others. They can also be a good sounding board too.
- Make sure you have good customer service skills not all of us are good with people, and if you are going to be selling a product or an idea you must focus on being as good as you can be in this area. Or find someone who can be.
- Make it scalable you don’t want to be doing everything yourself, you want to reach a point where the main work is done by others, and you have something to sell.
What about you? Do you want to be an Over 50s entrepreneur? I’d love to hear your ideas.