Mature Entrepreneurs—It’s Your Time!
By Doug Hickok
Did you know that baby boomers between ages 55 and 64 are the fastest growing age group of new entrepreneurs in the United States? And, that more than half of all owners of small businesses are over 50?
As the economy strengthens, eight out of 10 new entrepreneurs are choosing self-employment because they want to do it, not because they have to do it for purely economic reasons. They are “opportunity” entrepreneurs instead of “necessity” entrepreneurs.
Boomers are living longer, healthier lives, and many of us want to stay engaged with work at some level because we have deferred dreams that pull us forward, or because we want more income. We are emboldened to move forward with self-employment because we have the experience and resources that are needed for success. Age has its assets.
There has never been a better time to start your own business.
The digital technology revolution has brought information and access to us that were unimaginable just 20 years ago. Computers deliver the world to our devices, allowing us to explore potential opportunities and set up new businesses at a small fraction of the time and expense that was necessary before.
A downside of that revolution is that we can become paralyzed by the sheer amount of choices and information available to us today from the Internet. Out of this fire hydrant-sized flow of electronic input, how do we find our way through so many options and possibilities? That’s an important question.
In that spirit, here are seven tips to help you bring your great business idea into focus and decide what to do about it.
1.First, are you passionate about your potential business, or would it just be about the money? There’s nothing wrong with money, but passion is emotional food that gives us enthusiasm and energy to enjoy life and lift us up over the bumps. If your startup would be more about the money, then what do you need the money for? Be passionate about that. Both you and your business will do better.
2.Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Take a quiz here www.entrepreneur.com/article/246454 and learn more about yourself.
3.What is the compelling value proposition of the business you would start? If you are opening a pizza restaurant, for example, there had better be a really good reason why people will come to you instead of all the other pizza places in town. Why would people love your business and choose it over all the others?
4.Do your research. It might be a great thing that you could put a shoe store right there next to that clothing store to pump up customer generation, or, maybe that’s already been tried and it didn’t work. Wouldn’t you want to know?
5.Make a plan, don’t just wing it. The biggest resource I can recommend to you, both to explore your business idea and to help you take action on it, is the Small Business Administration. The SBA has awesome online tools that you can use for every step to build your startup. Visit them at www.sba.gov Also connect with SCORE, a small business mentoring organization, at www.score.org/about-score Having a business-savvy mentor free of charge is a huge benefit as you make fateful decisions about your business that you’ll have to live with.
6.Are you thinking of going into business with others? Partnership can add value to your business, but it also brings substantial risks. Sharing the responsibilities and rewards also means sharing those risks.
•Partners are people, and relationships can be difficult sometimes. Are you good with people? Can you resolve conflicts? One of my favorite sayings is, “Any fool can get married, but it’s how you deal with the disagreements that will make or break it.” Oh, how true, in marriage and in business.
•Partnering with people you already know creates dual roles, your business role and the other role. It’s hard to be a boss to your friend or relative, for example, and keep both relationships clean and clear.
•If you are choosing to be in a partnership, be sure there is a lawyer-drafted partnership agreement in force, no matter the size of your business or who is involved in it. A lot of unhappiness occurs in partnerships because this wasn’t done.
7.Finally, can you value the journey your business will take over time, or are you mainly interested in its destination? “Both,” would be the best answer. Entrepreneurship is a journey full of twists, turns and uncertainties, and it will also give you great gifts and luminous blessings. If you enjoy the journey, you will learn enough to fully embrace the destination. If you’re always in the back seat saying, “Are we there yet?” it won’t be much fun at all.
Doug is an executive coach for entrepreneurs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org He is the author of the book, How to Succeed With Your Great Business Idea.