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/ 12 Jan, 2020
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10 reasons you’re not too old to start a business

There’s plenty of reasons you’re never to old to start a business, which we’ll cover in a moment. But first, to get you started here’s some people you’ve probably heard of who started a business later in life, and have seen incomparable success:
  • Charles Flint: launched IBM aged 61.
  • Vera Wang: started designing clothes aged 39
  • Joseph Campbell: Designed Campbell Soup aged 52
  • Martha Stewart: Began home decorating aged 35 
  • John Pemberton: Invented Coca-Cola aged 55
  • Reid Hoffman: Founded LinkedIn aged 36
  • Colonel Harland Sanders: Founded KFC aged 65

It might feel like every start-up these days is run by a youngster with a trendy office, but in reality around 1 in 6 companies set up in the UK are started by people between over 50 years old. 

Also, it’s really worth noting that these businesses tend to have a much higher success rate in the first 5 years, as we all know that you can’t beat experience and the wisdom that comes as we get older! In fact, these businesses have a 70% chance of surviving the first 5 years, compared to the mere 28% chance of survival when a company is started by a younger entrepreneur. 

There’s even a word used for this often-overlooked demographic – ‘olderpreneurs’.

In 2017, research completed by Barclays even showed the over-55s are the UK’s fastest growing group of new business owners! 

Many older people are putting off retirement to work flexibly and run their own business, citing the biggest motivation as ‘the desire to do something pleasurable’. Notable other motivations are ‘achieving a better work-life balance’ and ‘not wanting to work for someone else’.

Big shifts in technology are nothing new, so don’t let that hold you back. Every generation has to keep up with seemingly endless changes and futuristic developments, including millennials. In the 1940s, people read newspapers and listened to the wireless. By the 60s, it was all about TV.

Even if you feel you need to do some courses or other learning to understand tech better, take a real look at the advantages you already have. You might just realize that you can learn to use tech, but the qualities you already have are much more valuable, and something that entrepreneurs in their 20’s can’t learn.

Still wondering 'Am I too old to start a business?' Here’s 10 solid reasons you’ll make a more successful entrepreneur now than when you were younger:

1.    Life experience.

You can’t teach it. That intangible, priceless knowledge and understanding that comes with age and experience. You have that in bundles, which immediately puts you a step ahead of the younger generations.

You are likely to be much more patient, hardworking and focussed, especially when it comes to the less ‘fun’ steps of running a business that need to be done well. You’re more likely to plan well and understand the importance of laying sturdy foundations, because you know what might lay ahead and you have a level of realism rather than unbridled optimism. Expect the best, plan for the worst as they say! 

2. You already have a network, and your network has a network.

You’ve had a lifetime of making personal connections, meaningful face to face connections, and networking which is about to pay off big time. You’ll have past colleagues and peers, mentors and friends, all of whom can give you advice or recommendations that are so important to a new business.

You might already know a trusted accountant or financial planner who you can rely on to give you sound advice and give you a high level of service. A network like this takes years of hard work attending networking events and building connections, so it’s a huge asset that you have one already.

You’re also likely to have the confidence to ask for an introduction when you need one, which means your network will reach even further and give you pretty much all the resources you need.

3. You’re a pro at goal setting

Any entrepreneur will tell you how important goals are to business success, and especially setting SMART goals. Throughout your working and personal life, you likely have built up an ability to set quality goals that are achievable, and then achieving them. You don’t have to work on how to set a goal in order to achieve it, it’s already second nature to you.

Your experience and skills will help you to stay objective and make the most efficient, cost-effective and productive choices to reach your goals in the best way possible.

4. Knowledge is value

It’s becoming easier for those who have great knowledge, judgment and insights to make a success of themselves, rather than just those with a tangible skill. Years ago, it was hard to see how you could become a business tycoon if you didn’t have a skill you could make a business from.

Now though, if you have drive, passion, decision making skills and good judgement, you can make a strong business from a hobby or pastime. In many cases, this means that there is a much higher value on your gathered experience, knowledge and soft skills than perhaps you realise.

5. Investors like you

Although investors like young entrepreneurs because they can often get a bigger ownership stake and take more control of the business from them, many of the qualities that they want to see in an investment exist in more mature entrepreneurs.

Venture capitalists particularly look for entrepreneurs who are seasoned and experienced because they represent a safer, smarter investment. Because statistically you have a higher rate of success, you’re more likely to get a good deal from an investor.

6. You can cope with failure

We’ve all heard that failure is part of the path to success, but this is often a harder lesson to learn in your twenties. By your age, you’ve likely had many failures big and small, which have each taught you something valuable, after which you picked yourself up, dusted yourself off and moved on. 

Now, you know the importance of having a plan B ready for when things go sideways, so you won’t be caught off guard like many younger entrepreneurs would be.

Chances are you also don’t have the same fear of failure as you did in your 20’s. You can make confident decisions without the paralysing fear that they’re wrong, which gives you a significant advantage over your younger counterparts.

7. You know yourself

You are more able to honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and to pinpoint what you’re passionate about. When talking about starting a business, Richard Branson said ‘Passion is one of the most effective motivators…and often one of the strongest predictors of whether an idea will lead to success.’ 

With enough enthusiasm and determination, and a strong understanding of what you can do yourself and what you need advice on, you can tailor a business to you and your strengths. This in turn will make it likely to stride to success. 

8. Your finances are more secure

Starting off later in life usually means you have a more stable footing financially. What this gives you is less stress, less pressure for the business to succeed, and less chance you need to find an investor. 

Although you may still have plenty of outgoings, chances are you’ve paid off a significant percentage of things like your mortgage, child expenses, retirement savings etc. 

Younger entrepreneurs are usually just starting out with these, and need the business to be a success in order to continue making their mortgage payments or car payments etc., so there is a whole lot of pressure you have avoided.

9. Plenty of choice

Being a young entrepreneur these days usually means spending a long time trying to find a financial backer, or starting a business with no capital and working on a shoestring budget. 

The advantage you have here is choice. Because you likely have access to some start-up capital, have a network you can call on, and are a seasoned professional, you could do any of the following:

  • Start a business from the ground up with your own capital - tempting for many because you have full control of the business. 
  • Form a partnership with someone in your network and start-up together - share in the business’ profits, workload and costs.
  • Buy a franchise - buy into an existing brand with a much lower risk factor than starting up yourself.
  • Become an investor yourself - own shares in someone else’s start-up, leaving most of the hard work to them.

10. Self-confidence.

It’s true that young entrepreneurs have high self-esteem and natural self-belief, but often this simply comes from their unbridled youthful optimism. While this doesn’t seem like a bad thing, it often will disappear when the business doesn’t seem to take off straight away or hits a tough time. Because they don’t have the innate sureness and quiet confidence in themselves like you do, their motivation and belief can be washed away when things don’t go to plan. 

You’ve had wins, defeats, losses, successes, lived through economic changes and turbulent years, worked hard and grown – all of which has led you to become comfortable with yourself, confident in your choices and self-assured in your decision making. 

You have everything you need to be a successful business owner, so stop letting the concept that you’re too old enter your head – it’s just a number after all!

Why not get an infusion of motivation and brush up on your skills at the biggest business event in the North of England? It’s free to come along and there’s some seriously good keynote speakers, expert masterclasses and suppliers waiting for you when you visit. All you need to do it get your free ticket online now, then come to Manchester Central on 17th and/or 18th March and you’ll be all set to get stuck into your new business venture!
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