Starting a business is risky, and the conventional wisdom is that it’s riskier for someone in their 40s, 50s or 60s than for a younger person. After all, older people are closer to retirement and typically have more to lose financially if a venture goes south.
But a study conducted by the Census Bureau and two MIT professors found that entrepreneurship “midlife” isn’t as risky as most think. In fact, the study reported that entrepreneurs in their 40s and 50s are two times more likely to run a successful startup than founders in the 25-30 age range.
One big plus for those midlife entrepreneurs is life experience, says Deni Sciano (ScoreGameDayBag.com), a former teacher who launched her own entrepreneurial career as founder of Score! Designs, LLC, a designer handbag company based in San Antonio, Texas.
“Gathering your many years of varied experiences, from relationships to problem-solving, prepares you well to execute the idea,” Sciano says. “Your resilience and patience have grown and helped prepare you for the up-and-down ride that owning a business can be. You’ve had the time to get ready financially. You have perspective that comes with time, and you know better how not to waste time.”
Sciano offers five tips on how middle-aged entrepreneurs can overcome start-up challenges and run a successful business:
Plan well financially. “The biggest obstacle for many midlife entrepreneurs is money,” Sciano says. “You have to do an honest budget and stick to it, knowing where you can trim expenses. Minimize debt. Ideally, you’ll have a good amount saved for your venture, giving yourself a foundation to absorb the inevitable early business struggles. You may not be able to pay yourself initially as you try to establish traction.”
Reach out to your networks. Someone starting a business in their 40s, 50s, or 60s has likely built an ample network of professional and social contacts. “You absolutely need to reach out to people you know to help get your business off the ground,” Sciano says. “Then see who they know, and network with people in your field. Ask them how they got started, about problems they encountered, and extend your education by getting involved with the local small business community.”
Prioritize, organize and execute. Create a monthly goals and duties checklist. “Begin each month with an overview,” she says. “Setting it in motion, with a prioritizing checklist, helps you to stay on task and prevent the forgotten duties from escaping.”
Be innovative with your marketing plan. Marketing through various social media platforms can make an impact in the early going, but it has to be a consistent, aligned effort. “Improve your social media presence through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google business,” Sciano says. “Do research to find marketing companies that understand your goals and have a plan to improve your bottom line. Update your website with an easily navigated platform for desktop and mobile phones. Add fresh content, pictures, new products, and company updates.”
Save time by outsourcing. Pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses within yourself, company, and team, Sciano says. “Consider outsourcing your most time-consuming projects or tasks in which you, and your staff, are low in expertise or time,” she says. “This allows you to focus on more sales, creating new direction, excellent customer service, and decluttering your daily duties.”
“Don’t forget the other rewards you get from owning a business,” Sciano says, “like the satisfaction of being your own boss, doing work that energizes you, and doing it with people who make your life richer. As you get older, you appreciate those entrepreneurial things more.”
For more on Deni, visit ScoreGameDayBag.com.
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