If you’re over 50 and beginning your business you’re in good company. Each year in the USA thousands of adults of this age start businesses, some of them become blockbusters. Wasn’t Colonel Sanders over 65 when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken?
Starting a new business is tough at any age, but if you were going to start one as you crest 50 it’s probably one of the best times to do so assuming you have the energy and time to dedicated to it.
Some caution is probably recommended because you’re entering that critical time where if you blow your 401K plan money on your business idea – that’s it. Retirement will look pretty bleak after that. If you’re sure your business will work, forge ahead and make it happen.
Hopefully you have more money to invest and know some people that can help you get started if need be. You do have a better chance at success than those younger than you due to your life experience. Go with something you know inside and out – and that you love – and you’ll likely succeed. Passion breeds success.
How to get started?
Like pulling the arm of a beer tap as you draw beer you are going to need to start drawing on the knowledge of friends and acquaintances. Tapping them like a keg. Over the years you’ve probably accumulated a lot of different friends and those that aren’t really friends, but that could be contacts that can either help you get started or point you in the right direction.
Create a list of people that might be able to help you. Then work on getting their email addresses and phone numbers. Join Facebook and Linked in if you haven’t already, and connect with everyone you know, even if you don’t’ think they can help you – maybe someone they know, can. Start making contact with everyone that can help you figure out or do something required to get your business up and running successfully.
More times than you might think, the success of a business can depend on the owner’s network of contacts that can help – even with just advice. If you know someone that does marketing well – pick their brain. Someone that knows contracts? Employ them to look over your contracts.
Experience. Experience. Experience. Use what you know and what you can apply from all the experiences you’ve had in the past. The knowledge that helped you get to 50 will help you in business. The processes that you learned about how to find things out – have helped you get through life, and can help your business launch successfully. Start reading internet marketing blogs like Entrepreneur’s Journey with Yaro Starak and whatever you can find by Frank Kern and Jeremy Schoemaker.
Quickly start looking for funding or, if you don’t need it right away – emergency funds for later. One of the most common and difficult to surmount barriers to succeeding for new entrepreneurs is when they run into a wall they can’t get around… the wall named m-o-n-e-y.
Michael Hodge, an engineer from the Midwest received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to create a unique microwave system. That helped him start his own business. In addition to outside sources you can look at your own resources. Can you mortgage your home? Would you trust yourself to do that? If not – it’s probably not the right business idea.
Get ready mentally to put the hours in. When you love something – you’ll not see it as work to put 10-16 hours a day into your new business. It’s harder than working for someone else, but it’s for you. How hard are you willing to work for you? In my case, pretty hard!
You’ll probably be handling many things that you can’t afford to pay for – that’s normal. What isn’t normal is handling marketing if you’re not a marketing expert or willing to put the time in to become one. Marketing is probably the most important aspect of new business success and you need a comprehensive marketing plan and implementation so you can have sales start as fast as possible.
Keep costs as low as possible. Cut costs wherever possible. Eat in. Clean your business yourself. Good startup spots are your home or a partner’s home or even garage. You may not even need a storefront to start off. Can you get away with renting some space another business isn’t using currently? New electronics or used? The average life of a computer system is about 8 years in my experience, if all you’re using them for is email, internet, and Microsoft Office documents you don’t need anything better than what existed 4-5 years ago. Get used equipment and save heaps of money.
Re-evaluate all costs before they make it into your budget. Brag later about how little you started your new business on – not how much.
Have a backup plan, or two. Most new business ventures don’t even make it past the first couple years. Figure out the top 5 things that may kill your business – and prepare for them. If you know 10, prepare for 10. You can’t prepare too much.
Have a backup plan for what to do if it all goes crash. It’s essential to know that you can still survive even if the business goes belly-up.
Good luck! Though a lot depends on the work you do in making your business successful, a little luck is nice too. Make your own luck by being decent to people and doing the right thing for customers and people you interact with on behalf of your business.