The number of people starting businesses later in life is on the rise. Sharon Murray looks at the biggest challenges facing ‘olderpreneurs’ and how to overcome them.
In the second half of 2020 redundancy and unemployment rates in the UK rocketed, which is unsurprising during a global pandemic. But what is more surprising, is that so too did the number of new businesses started.
While the two were certainly linked, it wasn’t just the loss of a job that pushed people to start a new venture. Lockdowns and the change in lifestyle gave people a chance to think about what they really wanted from their career and explore business ideas that previously seemed like a dream. For the over 50s who were feeling demotivated and unenthusiastic in their job and thinking – is this it? This was the perfect chance to try something new.
We often think of entrepreneurship as a young person’s game, but in many ways fiftypreneurs have more to offer the business world. They come with a huge amount of experience, both personal and professional, making them excellent leaders because they know how people tick. They are also more likely to be more comfortable in their own skin, which makes them real, authentic and transparent – all great assets when running a business.
But while that is all true, undertaking this entrepreneurial journey later in life can be tough. At times these new business owners may be forced to face deep-seated issues that they have so far been able to ignore in the safety of employment.
Here are four of the biggest challenges that fiftypreneurs face and how to deal with them:
For most people these stem from as far back as childhood, with negative talk from parents like ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’. Many parents of olderpreneurs lived through a very different time and are naturally cautious about spending. One tip to overcome this is to make a list of all the stories they have been told about money in the past. This is a great exercise to challenge those limiting beliefs. Once business owners are aware of them and where they come from, they can start writing a new story.
A very common issue, particularly when starting a business later in life. Why? Because the older generation will naturally compare themselves with their younger counterparts. But it’s important for the fiftypreneur to examine the unique experience they bring to the table. Instead of focussing on the skills they lack, they should write down all the assets they have – and find examples to back them up.
Wow there’s a scary thought! Businesses nowadays thrive on human connection. While maturity gives older business owners a great ability to display empathy and concern for others, they often forget to do that for themselves. This is particularly true for those who have worked most of their lives in a corporate world where authenticity, emotion and transparency may be deemed as a sign of weakness and vulnerability. This can be one of the biggest struggles for the fiftypreneur and it should be taken in small steps. This doesn’t mean they need to pour out their life story on social media. It could be talking about challenges they have overcome in their business, hobbies and interests, or perhaps the journey that has brought them to where they are now and what inspires them. Over time, the corporate skin begins to shed and being “YOU” feels a little more comfortable.
Stress & fatigue
Over 50s have been raised to believe hard work and long hours are synonymous with success. But self-care and knowing when to take a break is imperative to running a successful business – especially later in life. They might feel 18, but their mind and body are telling them something different. Making time for exercise, hobbies and downtime with friends will ensure greater productivity and help avoid burn out.
Although starting a business later in life can be daunting, don’t forget that the founders of McDonald’s, Coca Cola, and Kentucky Fried Chicken were all over 50 when they started their businesses – and they did quite well!