Starting a business when you are over 50 is both entirely possible, and might even be a great idea for your future and the legacy you will eventually leave behind for your family. It is not too late to consider this option but is important to understand everything you will need to put into it.
How do you start a business over 50? You will want to have a solid plan in place, both for the business and for your own goals. Spend time becoming an expert in the field, and utilize your network to get there. Know all the costs ahead of time, and make sure to have a realistic timeline in place for you and your business to see success.
Once you are over 50, you will likely have advantages and disadvantages to starting your own business. The advantages include experience, knowledge, and more stability than many young entrepreneurs. Utilizing your strengths and advantages, you can set yourself up to have a highly successful career as an entrepreneur. At that point, the saying will become true that “age is just a number”. Continue reading to learn the tips of the trade and to learn about why this can work.
12 Tips to Start a Business Over 50
Regardless of your age, there is no perfect formula for starting a business. Each day as an entrepreneur is a new series of problem-solving and learning new things in order to adapt and succeed in an ever-changing market.
Below, I have condensed my best tips, largely geared towards helping you to properly plan and to be able to adapt to new situations for your business. It is with my hope that these tips can help you find your inner motivation to get to work and successfully launch your business even if the entrepreneurial world after 50 seems intimidating.
1 – Plan Out What You Need Financially
First and foremost, as an entrepreneur who is over 50, you are going to need to have a handle on your personal finances and needs. Make a plan for yourself, to ensure that you have your personal needs and finances handled before jumping into any business ideas or plans. Doing this will also help you understand what you are able to invest in your new business.
Fortunately, many people over the age of 50 have a higher sense of financial stability than they did when they were younger. This puts you in a good position to be able to maintain your livelihood and work with banks to acquire any needed funds at healthy rates. Your older age might even come with perks of earning a lower interest rate as you can prove good credit for a longer period of life.
Keep in mind that this is the time when many are cruising into their final years of saving for retirement. This is probably already on your mind, so I am here to tell you not to stress. Just be sure to include this in your plan and accept what a realistic timeframe for your own retirement would look like if you were to start your business over 50. If you are realistic with your financial plans, starting a business as an older entrepreneur is totally possible- and could lead to greater wealth in the long run, anyways.
2 – Utilize Your Network
As an older entrepreneur, you will likely have more professional and personal acquaintances in your circle. Do not be afraid to reach out to these people in your network for advice, help, and more contacts who might be interested in supporting you and your vision. Chances are, you may have a contact who is able to help you put together a rock-solid business idea in your field of interest.
Given that you are attempting to start a business when you have reached past the “traditional” entrepreneurial age to begin, it is likely that you have really thought this through and are willing to go the unconventional route. Now, it is time to keep doing things a bit unconventionally by embracing the bold risks that come with this journey. Allowing others to be there and support you can make a world of a difference.
Fortunately, by the age of 50, most people have gotten past the need to impress or be liked by others. The same desire for approval that may have existed through your twenties simply is no longer there. This is incredible to have as an entrepreneur. You will be able to focus on your goals and unabashedly reach out to your network for advice, help, and support.
3 – Build Another (Business) Network
Whether you know it or not, local business assistance is all over the place. Reach out and attend events with the Chamber of Commerce, and get to know other local business owners. Having a network in a local area can help with word-of-mouth to get your initial customers and support system in place.
Not only will you be able to build connections and relationships with the local, like-minded business owners, but you will be able to build connections with their business network as well. The more stories you hear of successes and failures, the more you are able to learn and bring into your business.
For the most part, you will likely find that others truly want you to succeed on your journey, though their support is not always palpable. By building a business network, you can have people to lean on for advice, financial resources, and information on anything that may arise during your entrepreneurial journey. Chances are, the challenges and obstacles that you will face have likely been hurdled by someone else before.
4 – Know What You Need Help In
While you are likely an expert in a field, you may also need help and support in other areas around your new venture. Understanding what you do not know is just as important as being aware of what you do know. Reach out to professionals who have more experience in areas you are not as comfortable. You can even hire a consultant for things that are more technical or specific.
As an older entrepreneur, you have likely refined your skills and vision to start your business. You recognize the challenges that you may face and likely have a good gauge of what you are and are not skilled at. Beyond this, you will also be more in tune with what lights your fire, or, what you are passionate about.
Instead of wasting time and frustration on areas that you are not as skilled in, let someone else be a part of your success in this area. One way to think about it is by evaluating the cost of your time. If the “hourly rate” at which you would have to pay yourself to complete a task (research and all) is greater than the cost of outsourcing said task, then, by all means, outsource.
5 – Conserve Physical Energy
The fact of the matter is that you are no longer a 20-year-old who can work outside long hours every day, indefinitely. It is also more likely that you have additional responsibilities such as holding your current job before you are able to fully launch your business, or you may have children and a family who need you.
You need to pick and choose what is important for you to do and what can be delegated to others so that you can conserve your energy for the important things. Hiring people to take care of moving office furniture or hanging signs can be a great way to inexpensively improve your quality of life as an entrepreneur over 50.
Along these same lines, health risks for various health concerns often increase as you age. So, taking care of yourself physically (mentally, spiritually, etc.) is of utmost importance if you want to succeed on this long term journey. You might even consider building in time for 20-30 minutes of physical exercise as a way to re-center throughout your day and come back fired up for making your vision come to life.
6 – Become an Expert
If you are not already an expert in your field of choice, then you should be getting to know the field you are going into. Chances are, you are going into something you are already knowledgeable in. With starting a business at an older age, you have the advantage of using your life skills that have been acquired over a longer timeframe than some other younger entrepreneurs.
With that said, it takes a lot to become an expert in the field and to be able to conquer your business goals. Utilize free online resources, continuing education, and online courses to become an absolute expert in your field. The more you know and can show your value, the better your business will grow.
It is also important that as you go on this route, you recognize that becoming an absolute expert in one or two areas and outsourcing the rest (to other experts) can help your business to go from average to exceptional. Play to your strengths; this will save you time, money, and energy, and will ultimately help your business to succeed for the long haul.
If you are interested in starting a business focused on the senior market check out my list of the best business ideas here
7 – Build a Well-Structured Business Plan
Being knowledgeable and personally prepared is important for the success of your business, but on an equal footing is the necessity of having a well thought out business model. Knowing what to expect for your business, growth, and overall structure is crucial to succeeding.
You could consider this your blueprint before you begin to truly structure and see your business take shape. There are many categories to include in your business plan including financing, product sourcing, advertising, and more.
If you are not sure where to start, you can usually find free templates online. However, it is best to consult with a professional once you get the basics down. Find someone in your field who can point you in the right direction, and begin with framing your financial plan for your business. Without this, there will be no business to start in the first place.
8 – Know the Startup Costs
Once you have a business plan and a personal finance plan in place, you can figure out the startup costs. Many times these will depend on what you are able to put into it. Be prepared for unexpected expenses in your startup costs, and know when the payoff will begin.
The startup costs will likely be estimated at first, and that is ok. But, you need to be able to provide for yourself and your business as you venture into this post-50 journey. Being financially prepared can help to provide you the confidence you need to succeed.
Again, it is recommended to do your research well and speak with people in your industry of interest. They can point you in the right direction and also offer tips and tricks that can save you time, energy, and money. Learn from the successes and failures of others as you become an older entrepreneur.
9 – Marketing Plan
Almost no businesses grow unexpectedly by the owners. Having a solid marketing plan can be one of the most important aspects of your business. In today’s world, you have an (almost) infinite audience, so you need to have a plan to reach that audience.
Your marketing plan can be physical advertisements in your local community, and you can also branch into the digital realm. Be sure that whatever avenue you choose, you are sure to carry the vision and mission of your business with it. Professionalism is key to gaining a future client or customer’s trust.
Just like a business plan, forming a marketing plan is something that you can gain insight from people in your industry. Do your research online and with your network. See what works and what does not through other’s mistakes so that you do not have to suffer the costs of lost resources.
10 – Learn Social Media
If you do not already understand the ins and outs of popular social media platforms, then you will need to spend time beginning to understand this. Get to know media types, hashtags, people in your industry, and growth tactics to build your brand. Most importantly, be social on social media. People like to feel connected to brands.
Often, generational trends point age-specific demographics towards particular social media platforms. You will need to be familiar (or outsource to someone who is) with the social media platforms that are most popular with the age group you are attempting to reach.
If your plan is to reach all demographics (age non-specific), then be sure to use the most popular ones like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest among others. You can begin by asking those around you- specifically targeted in differing age groups- what their preferences are and go from there.
11 – Have an End in Place
Similar to having a business plan, you also need to have an end in place. If it is a low-cost business, maybe you can afford to hold out for a long time. If it is going to cost you your livelihood, regular large amounts of money, and is not successful – you should have a plan to pivot and increase income or stop altogether.
Of course, the financial risk is why older entrepreneurs are less common to find. The risks that you were able to take when your retirement (and family) were not really in the picture are not the same as they are now.
With more at stake, you need to be confident in your decision no matter how the end result turns out. Now, of course, you will hope that your business is successful and that you will see the benefits of its profit, but if this does not happen, you need to have a long-term plan in place.
12 – Do Not Sacrifice Retirement Assets
One of the most common mistakes I see in any entrepreneur is the desire to invest retirement capital into their new business. While this would make sense for someone who ends up with a highly successful business, this is not a prudent decision for most people.
If your business fails, or is not generating a large income within a few years, you will be losing out on your future livelihood over this decision. Additionally, if you have a family or other dependents who are relying on your income, then this can have even more devastating consequences.
Instead of sacrificing your retirement assets to start a business when you are over 50-years-old, seek out other financial opportunities. As mentioned above, you can use the time you have had to build excellent credit to your advantage as you negotiate for a lower interest rate on your bank loan. Then, your personal finances are secure.
Why Start a Business Over 50
People of all ages have great ideas, knowledge, and abilities to share with the world. Thankfully, with technology and an abundance of information, you do not need to be young or in a “perfect” position to start a business.
Why start a business when you are over 50? Contrary to popular thought, entrepreneurs over 50-years-old are significantly more likely to succeed in their business ventures than those under 30. Often, they are looking to take their career to the next level, or they are hoping to turn it into an extra source of income and adventure in retirement.
Whatever the reason may be, starting a business as an older entrepreneur can be a great experience when done properly. Make sure you take everything necessary into account, and have a plan in place to ensure that your future is secure. This will allow you the best chance at success on this entrepreneurial journey.
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