When the inspiration for a business strikes you later in life, what do you do? Are you going to dismiss it, or are you going to embrace the opportunity that comes with being an older adult in the entrepreneurial scene? If you’re doubtful because of your age, think of all the successful business people who launched their business past their prime.
Think LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, Intel’s Robert Noyce, Zelda Wisdom’s Carol Gardner, and everybody’s favorite, KFC’s Harland Sanders. They’re only a few of the people who got their big ideas when they were older and pursued them anyway—to no regrets. The same can happen to you. Your success, however, depends largely on how you manage the unique drawbacks and opportunities that come with your age. Knowing what lies ahead of you is the first critical step of your journey.
This might come as a surprise to you. Still, you’re actually starting a business with plenty of advantages that younger entrepreneurs have to work on alongside their business model and strategies. People in their teens and early twenties are just beginning to build enough career experience to see how certain industries work, economies differ, and consumer markets behave. You have the upper hand of simply drawing from your experiences and sorting through them. This applies even when you’re entering an entirely new industry. The fundamentals of business, customer service, marketing, onboarding, and financing remain mostly the same.
Older adults with conditions are not exempt from this benefit, especially if they come from an impressive career history. A disabled veteran with a small business has many key problem solving and decision-making skills that younger people are still honing.
With a long career behind you comes another critical asset: a wide social and professional network. You can kick off your business by targeting people in your various circles to be prospective clients, suppliers, and even investors. They can also connect you to their own circles and vouch for your person and goods. This significantly reduces the time you’ll need to plan a networking scheme to get you in the sights of important people.
Finally, most older adults at this stage of their lives are already financially stable. Apart from having impressive savings and a good credit score, you’re likely done with mortgage and tuition fees. The money in your bank account is yours to spend as you wish.
Your drawbacks are unique
Drawbacks are part of business life regardless of what age you start. Yours so happen to be different from your younger counterpart in interesting ways. This is especially true when it comes to risk-taking. It’s safe to say you have more to lose depending on how you choose to kick off and grow your business. Where are you getting your capital? Apart from you, who gets affected by any financial mismanagement that you may make? Incurring debt and putting up your house, car, and other assets as collateral can quickly turn your life upside down if your endeavor fails. This makes risk taking a little more difficult because you have limited opportunities to start again and reclaim the comfort you once enjoyed.
Another major drawback you have to watch out for is dated ideas and practices. You’ll have to catch up on the latest business technology and how CEOs manage their people in these modern times. It’s challenging to those who have been averse to new tech and gadgets, but who says you can’t be an IT whiz past your prime?
Using everything to your advantage
There are three specific ways you can use the aforementioned facts to your advantage. There are many tips and tricks applicable to older entrepreneurs, but nothing quite places you on the path to success, like getting the fundamentals right.
- Be Realistic. Assess where you are mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. Based on these, create goals and place them in a believable timeline. When you exaggerate the potential of your business, you set yourself up for failure.
- Slowly but surely. You’ll want to find your footing first and get a feel for the industry and your target market. Progress at a comfortable pace instead of trying to outlast your competitors.
- Continue learning. Be open to change and admit that you still have more to learn even with your experience and accomplishments.
Anything is possible
There’s no saying what can and can’t happen in business. If you look at famous brands and how they started, the limitations and drawbacks you face might not seem so daunting. With the right mindset and business savvy, your age will barely matter in launching and growing a successful company.