Entrepreneurship used to be synonymous with being young and fresh out of college, but this is changing. The number of mid-life entrepreneurs has been rapidly growing over recent years and looks as though it is going to continue that way.
If you separate entrepreneurs by age group, the largest group of over 45% are over the age of 50, and bring over £119 billion to the UK economy each year.
Although branching out to start up your own business can be scary at any age, when you’re middle-aged it can be particularly risky. Over time you accumulate responsibilities such as financially dependent children, care of relatives, or loan repayments all which affect your ability to take the kind of risks you need to take when setting up a business.
Likewise, if the project fails you may face having to worm your way back into a career you left behind. And when you know that 90% of businesses fail you may start to think “Why risk it?”.
But being a midlife entrepreneur in 2018 isn’t as scary as it seems. In fact, having some years behind you may even work in your favour. One study even found that entrepreneurs over the age of 55 are twice as likely to start a high growth company than entrepreneurs under the age of 35.
One key way is financial. You’ll likely already know that financing a new business venture can be tough. Typically, start-ups are funded by a combination of savings, loans, and grants. For younger entrepreneurs, this can be an issue. They are less likely to have savings and may be less likely to be able to secure loans without a good credit rating to back them up.
Midlife entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are more likely to have stable finances. The older you are, the less likely you are to be in financial difficulty, and the more likely you are to have savings or at the very least, a good credit rating. For example, 66% of 45-54 years olds are classified as ‘financially resilient’ in comparison to 58% of 35-44-year-olds and less than 30% of those below the age of 34.
Use your Experience
Another is an experience. The energy that may come with becoming an entrepreneur straight out of college pales in comparison to the skills and capability that are built up over years in employment. Building a successful business takes more than a killer idea; it requires effective management and financial attentiveness among many others.
With some years behind you, you are more likely to have experience in managerial roles or working in different sectors, both of which will put you ahead in forming a stable business. The greater depth of life experience you will have as a midlife entrepreneur will also help you to be more resilient to the inevitable setbacks and difficulties you will encounter through the first years of setting up your business.
Your age will also work in your favor when it comes to networking and building working relationships other companies. Think, for instance, of a budding entrepreneur attempting to establish their first relationships with distributors. Would you be more likely to strike ambitious deals with someone who seems experienced, or inexperienced?
This is a problem often faced by younger entrepreneurs. With fewer years behind them they are often seen as risky or are not taken seriously by potential buyers, collaborators or investors. On the other hand, for mid-life entrepreneurs age is often seen as an asset for the wisdom, experience, and dedication it can bring. Older company owners are often seen to be more reliable and less likely to take big risks by collaborators. Play to this!
With developments in online resources, you don’t need to have studied a degree in business management or entrepreneurship in order to successfully set up your own business. Learning how to set up your business and to keep inside business regulations is easier than ever.
Government run sites such as gov.uk and startupbritain.co.uk are great resources to get started with advice for setting up and running your business. In addition, the internet is brimming with high-quality resources which give you all of the guidance you would get from a paid course, without the financial or time commitment.
Likewise, it has never been easier to set yourself up on the internet. Having a web presence is vital for any business nowadays but don’t let that deter you if you are not familiar with technology.
You don’t need to be an expert web developer to make a good website because of the many hundreds of tools that are online to help you optimize your web presence. Tools such as Squarespace have been specifically developed for people to be able to create attractive and optimized websites without requiring an ounce of experience in web design.
With a little bit of time and good use of resources to help you to learn to use technology to boost your business, your business can be up to date and competitive.
A final consideration is that you don’t have to go it alone. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily mean single-handedly building everything from the ground up.
In fact, those that start their business as a team are more successful than those that start their business alone. And in building an entrepreneurial team, why not try to buffer the disadvantages of being a midlife entrepreneur by teaming up with younger people? The advantages of being a midlife entrepreneur can even be bolstered by teaming up with younger entrepreneurs that can bring a different skill set.
For instance, an older entrepreneur with experience in a corporate position may be better positioned to deal with the organizational components of setting up a business, while someone younger may be more capable of dealing with online marketing or branding. When you consider that you don’t need to embody every value of an entrepreneur to be successful, the enterprise seems much less daunting.
Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.