Starting a small business at any age is a daunting task.
But beginning one after the age of 50 comes with its own set of unique challenges. Fortunately that’s not stopping many of America’s older entrepreneurs.
According to U.S. News & World Report, a 2015 survey found that nearly 26% of businesses started that year were from people age 55 to 64.
For many, their own business provides a means of making the money they’ll need to get through retirement.
Others choose this path because of a passion for work, to explore a second career path, or simply to have more control over their hours and schedule.
But what are some of the specific challenges facing those over 50?
Choosing the Right Type of Business
Younger entrepreneurs, for better or worse, have ample time to fail in terms of choosing the right business to start. Those over 50 have more at stake given looming retirement and need to make more calculated, smart choices.
While you may be deeply passionate about something, if your business doesn’t solve an already existing problem or fill some gap in the marketplace, it may not be viable in the long run. Prospective business owners need to take that into account in addition to assessing what unique skills they bring to the table for a new business.
As AARP suggests, you can get started by making a chart of your skills, past projects, and outcomes to get a comprehensive inventory of your own capabilities.
Getting Caught Up on Tech
In the article “Starting a Business After Age 50, Chief Coach of Bizstarters, Jeff Williams puts a strong emphasis on older entrepreneurs catching up on how to use the newest technology.
Williams suggests reading reputable business-oriented websites and publications to find technology how-to’s or even check out your local library for software classes or learning how to use specific equipment.
As technology is constantly changing, there’s no shame in not being up to date but prospective business owners need to be proactive with this education.
Consider Your Unique Limitations
For many entrepreneurs, the ultimate goal in starting a business is the chance to eventually sell it for a profit. Your age may expedite that need for an exit strategy. The upside here is that you’re forced to make added bigger picture plans early on in the life of your business.
Older business owners also need to be honest and reasonable when it comes to their level of physical stamina.
For example, if you’re nearing retirement age, it may not be the most sustainable idea to start a labor intensive, one-man landscaping business.
Starting your own dog-walking service, doing independent consulting, or making jewelry on the other hand, may have more longevity.
Putting Ego Aside
When you start a business after age 50, you’re likely coming into this venture with a wealth of knowledge and experience. However, as is the case with all successful entrepreneurs, you need to put ego aside and make choices that are in the best interest of your company.
This may mean that you need to be patient when it comes to a slow-growing client base. It may also mean that you’ll be getting advice or mentorship from professionals that are many years younger than you but have specific expertise to offer.
From putting ego aside to choosing the right business in the first place, those over age 50 can start their new company feeling prepared.
Additionally, hopeful entrepreneurs can use the internet as a tech education resource, making prospective business owners equipped with the tools they need.
Photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com
About the Author: Kristin Livingstone writes on a variety of topics including entrepreneurship and starting businesses.