Changing direction after 50

The mere suggestion of starting a business at 50 years old leaves many clamouring for reasons why it’s a terrible idea.

When I started this blog I couldn’t really nail down exactly what I wanted it to achieve, but now I do, and it’s this:

To help women over 50 understand they can 100% reinvent their life – if they want to.

Is that easy to do? Heck no!

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

If you want to build a business of your own at 50 plus (and I highly recommend you do) then you’ll need to pull on your big girl pants for the following comments that are bound to come your way.

Tips for starting a business after 50
  • Who needs the hassle?’
  • ‘You should be winding down at 50, not the other way around!’
  • ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’
  • ‘Running a business is a young person’s game

Let’s look at these, one by one.

  • ‘Who needs the hassle?’ – Well, nobody ‘needs’ hassle. Who in the heck needs hassle? Here’s the headline: not everyone aged 50 and over feels sufficiently inspired or motivated to build something wonderful. But when you want it badly enough, nothing will stop you.
  • ‘You should be winding down at 50, not the other way around!’ – If you’re happy to be put out to pasture then maybe this is your ‘out’. There’s no doubting it will take energy and commitment, both mental and physical, to launch a venture and sail the high seas towards achievement.
  • ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ – This is just plain ridiculous. Yes, it may take a while to pick up and action new skills but that’s because of a lack of practice, not capability.
  • ‘Running a business is a young person’s game‘ – Another crazy statement. A younger person may score higher than a 50-something for one reason only: their energy and stamina might be better. But with good lifestyle habits you can easily negate this factor.

Let’s be honest here.

The announcement you’re about to embark on an adventure that could be a huge roaring success will often attract a stack load of negativity. My theory is because many will regard such events as shining a light on their own lack of accomplishment and motivation. Much better to drag you down to their own level of gross under-achievement because your bravery will show them up for what they are: ever-so-slightly gutless.

I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but that’s the reality.

Actually, I do mean to sound insensitive. It’s you I care about, not them.

I’d rather you live to see your own potential become a reality than pander to someone else’s lack of courage to be as brave as you.

So, now we’ve cleared that up, let’s look at all the reasons you should start a business after 50:

1. Patience

'The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.'

As a youngster I never understood why older people were regularly described as having “mellowed with age”. slowly the realisation dawned on me that time matures and sweetens not only fruit and wine, but we humans too.

Experience teaches us not only that we often get the best results when we wait for them, but also that impatience is our downfall when left unchecked.

2. time

'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring Tweet

By the wonderful age of 50 many of us have reared children who are now away and building their own lives, leaving us with a surplus of hours in the days, weeks and months – finally! Except for myself who waited a decade or two before embarking on motherhood…

Either way, once kids are at school and then university, we have more opportunity to do something for us. Once the novelty of having an uninterrupted nap has worn off, that is!

So the question is: how will you use that time?

3. Connections

'There is a depth to life which only comes from our connection to other people. However, we have to find it without becoming a prisoner.'

As life passes our contacts list grows and grows.

I regularly come across someone in mine I haven’t spoken to in decades. It really is frightening how often this happens the older I get!

It would amaze us if we knew what everyone in our list is doing today. Like us, many will have moved into different disciplines, achieved new goals and are maybe in even living and working in different countries.

If only we had the time to catch up with them… Well, we do have the time, don’t we?

A couple of calls a week to people we haven’t been in touch with in years will bring mutually beneficial opportunities to the table, I guarantee.

When I first started working in business sales around thirty years ago a contact list was referred to as your Rolodex, and they told us ‘your Rolodex is your fortune’ – for very good reason.

Never underestimate the value of your connections.

4. Experience

'The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.'

What I wouldn’t give for my older, wiser head on younger shoulders!

As the mother of a fifteen-year-old boy I’ve been reminded how much teenagers think they know. And also how my parents would remonstrate with little teenage me on the same point.

When you’re thinking of starting a business at 50, plenty of life experience gives you a distinct advantage.

If like me you’ve become adept at being able to predict how a scenario will play out in real life, then I promise you, that’s more than a huge advantage when becoming self-employed.

Having your intuition kick in, fine-tuned over the years by hard-won experience, is invaluable.

5. Resilience

'Strong people alone know how to organize their suffering so as to bear only the most necessary pain.'

Emil Dorian, Quality of Witness: A Romanian Diary, 1937-1944 Tweet

Running your own business is one of the most liberating things you can do for yourself.

But I’m not going to lie: you need to be made of tough stuff.

The knocks and disappointments will be many, so being resilient will help you ride the various storms as they come.

But life has a knack of developing our resilience anyway, because it too is full of knocks and disappointments. Like a muscle, the more its used, the stronger it will get.

So if you’re over fifty, you’ll be better qualified in this respect than many of your counterparts.

Congratulations! Your time on this planet has served you well!

6. Staying open

‘Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.’

Reaching midlife often means that you’ll know that things are often not what they seem.

People will let you down. They’ll also unexpectedly pleasantly surprise you.

You can suddenly lose your job. Or the phone might ring with a bolt-from-the-blue business opportunity.

Heavy traffic means that you’re late for an appointment. Then you discover the guy you’re meeting was late too, stuck in the same jam.

When events seem to conspire against you, be assured balance will be restored when they work in your favour too.

Many of us over 50 realise this when we look back over our years.

Staying open to what’s ahead inevitably helps when starting a business after 50, because the journey rarely maps out as you expect.

7. Taking responsibility

‘Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.’

Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents Tweet

A huge part of success in any walk of life at any age is often due to the willingness to do what others won’t.

How easy is it to blame everyone else, the government, the weather, Brexit, Donald Trump, the guy two doors down who parks his car awkwardly?

We’ve all been there. It’s the fault of the world – never you!

But once we’ve reached 50 and over the realisation soon sets in that, you know what? We had a hand in all our disappointments all along.

That’s not to say we were entirely to blame (not every time) but we played our part.

We take responsibility, for the highs and for the lows.

It’s what grown-ups do. And it’s critical if you’re going to set up a business that will thrive.

9. Capital

‘While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.’

I’ve deliberately left this point until last because I’m firmly of the opinion that if you have all the attributes listed above, then having a shot of cash to get you started becomes less important.

The internet is littered with articles about how to start a business with no cash, but few of them state the truth:

It’s far, far easier if you have at least a small amount of money to get you started.

Easier – but not vital.

Many of us at 50 plus have seen children leave home, and whilst there will still be the calls back home to the Bank of Mum and Dad, we should see a little more disposable income sitting in our accounts each month.

Maybe. Hopefully! One day soon?

I hope this has gone some way to demonstrating that starting a business over 50 is in so many ways the ideal time. While there may well be factors that work against you, there are so many positive reasons to grasp the nettle and just do it.

I’m going to leave you with one last quote to mull over:

‘If you keep waiting for the right time, it may never happen. Sometimes you have to make the most of the time you have.’

Priya Ardis, Ever My Merlin Tweet

Take a deep breath and be brave!

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