Starting a Small Business over 50 years old

Sean P. Durham
Sep 23, 2018 · 11 min read
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Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

Are you too old to begin a New Venture?

Starting out with a new idea in business — becoming an entrepreneur at 50 plus of age, can seem like a wild ass idea to some baby-Boomers. But Steve Siebold, the author of “How Rich People Think”, has a different take on being older, wiser and ready for the challenges of making it as a 50 plus entrepreneur.

According to Steve Siebold, once you hit the big 5–0, you have a wealth of knowledge that the younger generations just don’t, and can’t possess. Life is a great teacher. Life serves up its ups & downs so that we are faced with hardships, tough times and happy times, again and again life teaches us how to live life, what we can expect, and it teaches us the importance of persistence and tenacity in living life and getting what we want. Steve Siebold interviewed well over 1200 successful people to get to the heart of the matter — what makes them successful in their endeavours as sales people and business people.

He’s convinced that if you have an idea that offers value and use to other people and you focus on delivering that idea to the right people, people who need it, then you will be successful. Business is a tough path to traverse for most people, but when you have a lifetime of knowledge about what a real set-back is, and what is nothing more than the type of problem that always crops up when you try to shift something, then you’ll find the path becomes easier.

Younger people have a wealth of information at their hands. They can learn quickly and efficiently from the internet, the social interactions of the internet help to facilitate learning and exchange of ideas more rapidly than we could have back in our youth. The difference is, if you’re over 50 years old, you’ve already taken that hard earned knowledge and put it to task. You’ve been through the mill and seen, first hand, what works and what’s bullshit. Knowing the difference helps develop a better decision making brain, and a great BS detector. Something that every Millenial should develop rapidly, the internet and its information sources being what they are.

I suspect that we over 50s, have learned our lessons on the road of life. We didn’t get our knowledge and information from a portal with a shiny screen. That makes an enormous difference to the outcome.

The problem of knowledge and energy needed

50 Plus People tend to move into that age bracket with a few questions. “What will happen to me?”, is common. “If I’m still fit and healthy, what should I do with my life?”, is another question that helps us to define an important new phase in life. Other people are already on the ball, they know what they want and are probably working hard at building a new business already.

Having the energy to take up a new venture, however big or small it is, requires a commitment that means a significant energy input. Daily tasks and demands that crop up in the business can be dealt with by a fifty-year-old with a lot more calm and methodical ease than a younger person who views these things as a reason for panic attacks.

Modern business is about being niche, being defined as to what it is that you are offering your potential clients. Your niche can be something new and exciting on the market, or it can be a new take on an old service or product that you present in a much more personalised way than other businesses. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel — ’cause there’s no market for it.

A middle aged person has a long memory. There are a few old ideas that have been forgotten, they lie dormant in your own memory and might just serve as a kickstart idea to develop something the market needs today.

Skills that you need, or may already have, are the tools that will help you reach those customers and present your offer. Marketing online is a skill to learn and it doesn’t matter which business you’re in, marketing is tops when it comes to being able to reach your clients. Advertising skills are about copywriting and design. How to put really interesting and attractive creatives together that will cause a client to stop and look, then read and click through to your offer. If you don’t know anything about internet marketing you can learn enough to feel confident within a few weeks of solid reading — just be sure to read the good stuff, not the BS written by the “sign up to my course and you’ll get rich in weeks”, type of “marketing gurus”. There are good quality YouTube videos on marketing, and great books that don’t bore the socks off you which are available. Make marketing a main study for your business — it’s always in the centre of things, it’s the motor that makes noise, and it’ll sound sweet when you get it right, or it’ll sound like it needs an overhaul and a tune-up if you get it wrong.

You can only truly begin to understand the concepts of marketing as a small business when you do it. That means investing some cash into your ideas. Don’t invest your life-savings into it and believe throwing money at it will make things work. Build a good marketing plan for each area of promotion, such as building a brand — your name and the quality of service you offer. Build another type of campaign about reaching clients with a call to action to get them to buy the service or product. Monitor everything, check results and cross-reference everything you do. Always have a good reason why you want to spend more in a campaign, or end a campaign.

Marketing campaigns will bring results if you have figured out your offer and present it clearly. Look into “funnels”, a common sales funnel is used to create trust and engagement on the the client’s side. Something salespeople have done for centuries. It works if set up correctly, it’s a good starting point for a service business to think about.

Advertising, sales, and marketing knowledge is a must these days. It’s also a great way to step into the world of business if you haven’t done that until now. Reading about marketing will show many examples of how other people’s businesses came to understand their market and begin to get traction in their niche.

Who has done this before you?

To answer all the questions that generalise the passage from the 40s into the 50s we do what human beings always do, we look around and observe those people who have been there and are already busy doing something enjoyable and useful with their middle age life. Business is an obvious choice — unless you happen to be lucky enough to be able to retire and go live in a villa in a hot country , as you please. Otherwise, setting up with something totlly new in your life, can be an exciting and enlivening adventure.

The best place to start is to browse a few profiles of people who have changed their lives as they became older. You’d be surprised how many people who went for it, took a risk and put their hearts into a totally new venture, didn’t just get a comfortable new occupation, but really developed their idea into a money making lifestyle. Some people became millionaires after 50 years of age, and it’s not too few.

Why should you start a new business

The options for life are wide and varied. The options at 50 years old and more about paying the bills are minimal and the same as they ever were — you must pay the bills, or you don’t get the luxury of heat and light, a car, a home or any other thing that turns you on. These things never go away.

So, what would you do if you had to change now? Sit on your backside and watch T.V. or would you prefer to discover new things and see how much juice you still have, make a mark and build your signature piece?

Your skills and the desire to succeed, and the Internet

When I was a teenager, people would always say that “the future of business is service industries”. That was said in a world where the average person went to work with muscles and braun. Office jobs were for people who didn’t like to get their hands dirty and working on a building site was great way to earn good money on a daily basis. Factory work was all over the place and would serve as a stop gap until something better came up, shop work and sales jobs were advertised left right and centre in the newspapers. Opportunity to do better was to try your hand at direct selling — often insurance or double-glazing windows, some people made a fortune as a company’s star salesperson, many fell by the wayside after discovering that they’d failed to read the advert correctly, it said,”Make loads of money selling our product, outgoing and hard working people apply now.”, they didn’t read the bit about hard work. Today, some of those people are still waiting for their lottery ticket to come up.

At middle age, you know who you are and what you are capable of in business. I wouldn’t want to have to go out cold-calling everyday anymore, I know how hard it is. The cold weather, the stoney faces at the door, the better knowers and the empty offices that you discover after trudging up to the third floor in an office block. These are thoughts that come from lessons of life, trying things out and seeing what fits.

As we get older we should never give up testing things, things we already know can change their meaning in different environments and contexts. Always testing and trying ideas is a good habit that leads to moments of discovery.

The generation before the Baby-Boomers were a bloody-minded lot, they had to be. Their choices were minimised by a society surviving World Wars and constantly trying to rebuild the economies to get to ground zero where a bit prosperity could show its petals. That generation did things, got on with it whether they liked it or not. they knew that hard graft and toil would put bread on the table and not much more could be expected.

They were our parents and they handed down their knowledge to us — the baby boomers, the over 50s. We were taught that life is hard and you’d better knuckle down and do what the boss tells you otherwise you’re out on your ear.

But, we saw that society was changing with the swinging sixties and the economic boom. New economies and new money was flowing into the pockets of a few lucky buggers who got in quick.

Fast forward several decades and we are still here, older and wiser, and still in wonder at the rapidity of change in our own lifetimes.

Our health is better than our parents’ health generally was. Our pockets have more disposable cash than ever, and we want for better gadgets and living space more than we worry about where the next meal is coming from. Yet, all those lessons learned through parents still hanker in the mind. “Knuckle down, work hard, listen to the boss and do as you’re told.”

What we discover is that these rules of knuckle down etc, were good for the previous generation only, they don’t make the rules anymore. Bosses are being replaced by coaching methods of management through encouragement and helpful co worker cooperation. Work is more of a creative process combined with hard work and smart thinking. Not to outwit the competition but to come up with a great offer to help the client solve a problem.

Creativity and smarts are what are needed today, we need to dispense with the advice of grafters and work with the intuition and self knowledge of fifty plus year olds who have had a different experience of life than the previous generation had. Firstly, embrace the internet and learn about it. It ain’t going away, it is growing into something big and invasive whether we want it or not.

To build a business today, you need the internet. Just by accepting that idea you begin to take it more seriously, and you begin to see how useful it is to you and your business.

The internet is full of things. Those things can be useful or useless — it just depends on who’s looking at it.

You will discover that building knowledge of how to start a business at 50 plus is an exciting and challenging idea. Many of the things that you need to know can be found on the internet, or you can be nudged into the right direction to find the things you need to know about.

Sticking to goals, optimism and coaches

Being a person who is mature, experienced and still full of the love of life, is the key factor that means the difference between success and failure. Younger people don’t and can’t have these things. They have to earn it through living and loving their way through the twisty-turny path of life.

There are a lot of lottery mentality people out there. They tend to kid themselves that their number will come up at some point, the great opportunity will land on their desk one morning and change their lives forever. We all think about these scenarios a few times in life, and some people start to believe in them as a possibility — they never stop to figure out the odds. These are “The Secret”, or “Law of Attraction” mentality people, who believe they can cause wads of cash to mysteriously turn up on their bank accounts without explanation.

This type of thinking claims that the power of your mind is all it takes to get wealthy. The power of your mind? Surely that includes thinking, planning and astute observation of how things actually work in the world. Don’t pop their bubble, they are happy to believe that their mind is all powerful and will be able to game the economic system that has been created by the banks. They’re enjoying the music, so let them listen.

Life gives us opportunities to take or leave. They are always there, it just depends on what you’re thinking about when you see them. “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”, a person who has spent the last twenty years working in IT Apps, may well jump at a new opportunity to develop and market the latest form of App that makes everyday life easier for millenials. Another person, who has spent years driving a cab wouldn’t have a clue where to start. But if he or she looked a little deeper they may discover that the world of Apps makes sense as an opportunity in developing something that solves a travellers problem — like finding a hotel that suits them and booking it before they arrive, or simply finding out where the best coffee in town can be found while travelling around Europe. There are plenty of middle-aged cab drivers who have great business ideas out there, and there are plenty of young and ambitious App Designers waiting for an idea.

Being older, having traversed the terrain and built a map, is a powerful place to be in life. The App that sits between our ears is often forgotten and overridden by some smart-arse with a digital notebook that goes beep-beep for the next appointment. But to trust in human nature, and to view the world through the eyes of experience is the most sought after knowledge and power that one could wish for. There isn’t much else to need in order to make a go of it, to take a risk and build something really neat that will benefit others, solve their problems and bring a decent and honest profit your way.

Gurus, Authorities and Leaders

Live life and enjoy the challenges, they are always there.

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