Tips for Launching a New Business in Mid-Life
Maybe you just paid off the last college payment for your youngest child. You've been thinking "what's next?" and you're feeling like maybe it's time to focus on you.
Perhaps you've just been downsized after 20 years at the same company. You know you're too young to retire (and maybe can't financially) but you feel too old to start over. You're job searching but it's demoralizing and depressing.
Maybe you want to follow a passion FINALLY before it's too late.
Do any of these sound like you?
Whether you're choosing to start a business. . .or it's choosing you. . .becoming an entrepreneur mid-life is not only possible---it's trending. While it seems like there are Millenial entrepreneurs everywhere, there are actually MORE middle-age entrepreneurs. It's true! The Kauffman Foundation recently reported that together the 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 age groups make up over 50% of new entrepreneurs. That's a staggering number, and very different from ten years ago. Maybe one of the reasons is the amount of older workers being downsized as companies replace them with younger and cheaper labor. Perhaps the shift towards the awareness of "following a passion" explains it. Practically speaking, it could simply be that there are more resources for starting a solo or small business than ever before. The growth of the world wide web and internet based resources in the last ten years is so impressive. But even though the amount of resources is amazing, use of them doesn't always come easy to middle age people that have spent a lifetime getting an education, working a job or raising a family. When it comes to launching a business, older entrepreneurs do have some hurdles to navigate. Here's some tips to help you on your journey:
1. Understand that knowledge and experience is invaluable.
You have something that a younger entrepreneur doesn't: know-how. Maybe you're not an expert at Snapchat (but you can learn that in the course of a weekend). However, your twenty or thirty years in the trenches? Well. . .that's true time served that's going to pay off. That experience can be the base for marketing yourself as an expert or setting yourself up to follow your heart's desire. Instilled with wisdom, you just need to figure out what your're good at and set up shop.
2. Protect yourself with the right tools.
Maybe you have a nice nest egg and can draw on that to invest in your business, or maybe you're on the opposite end and need a business to help get you out of a mound of debt. Whatever the reason, protect yourself by setting up the right business. Older and more experienced, you know that protection is key. Working with an attorney who can help you set up an LLC, get your FEIN and draft your Operating Agreement is a great step. An LLC will separate your business from your personal life and protect your personal assets in the event something happens in the future.
Depending on the type of business you have you may also need a contract. The best way to protect your business is with the right kind of legal contract. Whether it's a lease agreement, rental contract or vendor contract, the right legal language will make all the difference. When you're protected you feel safe and secure. Just the way you felt when you moved your family into a great neighborhood or chose the right schools for your kids. This is a new stage in your life and you will be exhausted enough---don't lose sleep over wondering if you're legally protected.
3. Develop a business plan.
Whether you work with a strategic planner or formulate a plan on your own, having a guide for your business will keep you on track for where you want to go with the business. When you start a business everyone you talk to will offer their opinions for what you "should" be doing and how to run your business. Remember, this is YOUR business. When someone offers you advice take it as information and refer back to your business plan to stay on track.
4. Get Social.
Guess what? Even if you have never used Facebook for anything more than keeping up with your high school friends, most of the world uses the internet for information. Create a website (either yourself or hire a designer), learn some basic Graphic design and get your business on Social Media. If you own a business and need to sell your services or products to the general population then you need to put your business "out there" to be found. Oh, and your attorney strongly advises you to put the necessary protective measures in place such as Website Privacy, Terms and Conditions and Disclaimers.
5. Spread the Word.
You know a lot of people. . .Your people know people. Tell them what you're up to! You never know who will become a customer or be in a position to help you. Also, middle age people value great partnerships and often have a healthy list of resources to draw from: Accountants, Financial Planners, Bankers and Attorneys. This is one of the great assets of our generation---our relationships. Don't hesitate to let people know about your new business or partner with your service professionals for help.
By the way, I understand you because I am you. I'm a middle age entrepreneur myself. Starting over again is terrifying and presents unique challenges. Just remember to keep going and keep working on your goal. The climb is always worth the view, and the view is the same no matter how long it takes to get up the mountain!