When most people think of the image of an entrepreneur seeking financing for a business, they tend to think of someone fresh out of college and looking to forge their own path forward in the world of business. However, according to a recent Gallup poll, people over 50 are more than twice as likely to start a business as Millennials.
As people live longer and healthier lives, it’s becoming more common for older folks to finally begin living out their dreams of owning their own business. According to USA Today, the extended ability to work is called the longevity bonus, since healthier people may have 15 to 20 years of productivity ahead of them after retirement.
These retiring Baby Boomers have several reasons for wanting to start their small business. Some need to do it out of financial necessity, while others simply do it because they’re bored with the retired lifestyle. Others are taking advantage of the available technology to establish a business model that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. The Internet has created a viable outlet for many of these individuals without the added costs of overhead or office space, making owning their own business much more enticing and feasible.
Individuals over 50 generally have more savings to draw upon in addition to years, sometimes decades of industry knowledge, so they’re in the prime position to benefit from these resources. However, even though they might have more working capital to invest, they also have more to lose. Since they do have a much shorter time span to continue earning money, a series of bad business decisions can be potentially devastating.
Here are four tips for entrepreneurs over 50 looking to own their own business:
- Tap into the network
With years and sometimes decades worth of social interactions under their belts, older entrepreneurs should tap into their friends, acquaintances and business associates to ensure they have a strong team of referrals and advice-givers. No one builds a business in a void and this is the perfect time to flip through the Rolodex and reconnect with long-lost associates.
- Prepare to burn the midnight oil
The long hours necessary to run a business might be a major hurdle for some people over 50. Many small-business owners need to invest more than money in the business and often their company may require working more hours than at a previous job. Owners should be prepared to punch in early and stay well past closing time, especially in the early days of the operation.
- Keep it simple
One of the best reasons to get involved in a business in the golden years of one’s life is to reduce your stress levels. The best way to keep stress levels at bay is to maintain a simple business model with low overhead. The less expenses the company has, the less the owner needs to worry about improving sales and growing the business. Entrepreneurs should consider an enterprise they can do from home with as few employees as possible. Consulting, education, online sales, marketing services and IT support are all perfect examples of low-overhead companies that owners can run with minimal staff.
- Don’t be afraid to learn
Another good reason for running business is to get out of your comfort zone and start fresh in a new industry. Some entrepreneurs have been stuck in a position for decades without finding any satisfaction or personal joy in the endeavor. Now is the perfect time for anyone to consider taking some classes or getting certified in a field he or she has always wanted to get into, but has never done so.