When reflecting on twenty-first century startups, thoughts naturally turn to tech ventures and other progressive businesses launched by young people. While there’s a clear upside for young innovators riding tech momentum to the top, breaking business barriers in your 20’s isn’t the only formula for professional success.
In addition to contributions made by young entrepreneurs, seasoned self-starters also make an impact on US small business. In fact, evidence suggests older entrepreneurs may enjoy advantages that elude their youthful counterparts.
Age is Just a Number
The odds are stacked against small businesses. Despite dedicated founders working tirelessly for the cause, and innovative ideas bringing genuine value to the marketplace; small businesses fail every day. Worse yet, many clever business concepts never come to fruition, failing to launch in competitive consumer environments. Though countless factors within and beyond your control shape each unique business experience, age is not something that should hold you back from professional success.
A substantial share of startup founders are in their forties, and one study found evidence business entrepreneurs over the age of 50 are twice as likely to succeed as younger entrepreneurs, launching ventures under age 25. Any entrepreneur faces long odds, but with success rates leaning in your favor, why not start a small business after 50?
In the US, among other countries, entrepreneurs over 50 are launching more startups than any other age group. Flexible, remote work capabilities may help explain why more 50-plus entrepreneurs are entering the fray. And for over-fifty talent downsized from the work force, launching business ventures provides more autonomy and professional independence than going back to work in traditional employment roles.
Don’t Underestimate the Value of Life Experience
Whether you’re fulfilling a lifelong dream or simply doing what makes the most sense for retirement planning, wisdom and experience are startup assets you can’t buy, for any price; keep these tips in mind as you set the stage for small business success.
Experience and Financial Flexibility – Any promising business venture starts with a reflective personal inventory, taking stock of your passion for the project, as well as the practical skill set you bring to the table, launching the business. Among the many positive contributions you’re poised to make as an over-50 entrepreneur, life experience and flexible finances are two top traits younger founders may not have in their professional arsenals.
Having experienced the ebb and flow of professional success, your over-50 small business perspective is more balanced than a founder with a relatively brief frame of reference. And you’ve had time to build a network of contacts and associates, which may provide valuable assistance at various points during your organization’s development.
Because many independent business ventures are at least partially self-funded, it’s important to have financial backup – particular during the lean small business startup phase. Older entrepreneurs are more likely to have a financial cushion in reserve than 20-something founders are, giving them an advantage, shouldering the financial burden of a startup.
Free Resources – Business owners of any age welcome professional guidance and assistance – particularly when proven resources are available for free. Organizations such as the US Small Business Administration (SBA) support fledgling ventures, offering advice and access to various resources for entrepreneurs.
One SBA initiative, called SCORE, provides mentoring and education for small business operators, drawing on the experience of volunteer entrepreneurs with first-hand knowledge to share. In addition to government-backed initiatives such as SCORE, various online resources are available to help over-50 entrepreneurs create business plans and tackle other startup challenges.
Partnership Possibilities – Going it alone has distinct advantages, but seasoned entrepreneurs may also benefit from business partnerships with younger visionaries. Such complimentary parings make the most of each cohort’s strengths, leaning on the tech-savvy junior partner for youthful exuberance, while simultaneously maximizing the experience and time-tested consistency of the senior team member.
Adding Value – Business entrepreneurs represent a select segment of the work force willing to risk everything for a chance to leave a lasting mark in their fields. Your loftiest intentions aside, the success of your small businesses ultimately comes down to the value you bring to your business, community, and your niche in consumer markets.
Before launching a commercial venture, devote yourself to due diligence, applying your existing skill set, for the maximum benefit of your organization. And when you’re knowledge base doesn’t match the task at hand, get the job done by learning new skills or redirecting what you already know. Do you need a refresher course or additional certifications to set out on your own? No problem for motivated entrepreneurs of any age.
Selling It – The adage holds true; some individuals are indeed naturally gifted salespeople. Whether or not you count yourself among the group of natural born sellers, your new job as a small business founder requires selling at every turn. Not only products, but concepts, investments, and partnerships are all yours to sell, with the success of your organization riding on your ability to close sales.
It may be true that tech-inspired business opportunities attract young entrepreneurs, but older self-starters also make valuable contributions. If you’re convinced age is just a number, it may be time to put your seasoned perspective to work, launching or growing a small business.