Author Mike Mansfield – May 2022
At the Wize Move Society and Brave Starts, we know that our members are full of ideas and looking for the next adventure in their lives. Many people who have reached that “mid-career” milestone have been working for 20-plus years and are thinking: What’s next? Do I stick it out at my current job? Retrain for something new? Or, take the opportunity to go it alone and start my own business?
There are many reasons people think about starting a business. For some, it is the freedom to set your own schedule, or do something you are passionate about. Others are planning ahead and maybe dreaming about their retirement; they realise that work keeps them engaged and they do not want to stop. And, there is another group who realise that perhaps they cannot afford to stop working and are looking for opportunities to continue earning an income as they get older.
Summit Boomer or Bloomer
During the Boomer or Bloomer summit we organized in April 2022, we dedicated a session to talk about entrepreneurship among people over the age of 50. We learned from our expert speakers: Mary Cronin, Elizabeth Isele, and Han van Doorn, respectively that founders over the age of 50 are some of the most successful entrepreneurs, that decoding our entrepreneurial history can help unlock ideas and potential and that age is no barrier to setting up a business.
With those encouraging thoughts in our heads, we broke into smaller groups to talk about the barriers that may be holding us back and the resources we may need to take that first step. The findings were similar across the groups, which was an encouraging discovery as it shows that by tackling a few underlying issues, we can take a big step forward.
The barriers broke down into two categories: factors related to us as individuals and struggles that all businesses face as they set up. Finding ways to overcome the first set of items would put our budding entrepreneurs on a level playing field with other entrepreneurs.
The common barriers related to us as individuals had to do with self-confidence about ourselves as entrepreneurs and whether we had the mindset or experience to run our own business. We also worried about taking the step from often being employed by a company where we had access to support when we had questions, a benefits package and a sense of identity that was tied to our job.
The external barriers were often related to money matters, access to capital and raising the money needed to get started. People also felt that starting out on their own could be a significant draw on their time and questioned how this would impact their relationships with their family and friends.
The last barrier is an excellent segue to the resources that people identified. As a group, people in their 50’s and older have built up strong networks both professionally and emotionally. These networks can help us access some of the skills and experience we need as we set up a business. They can also be an emotional support to keep us resilient when things get tough.
Our life experience has taught us a lot. We are resourceful and have figured out where to get things for free or at low cost. Even within our brief discussion, people were already sharing ideas on where to find resources to help you build your website or get free courses on setting up your own business.
The last resource the group mentioned was another take on the confidence issue mentioned as a barrier. While we may not have the confidence to know everything about setting up a business, we do have the confidence to know that we are experts in our field and have many years of experience. This revelation was the silver-lining in our discussion; we were quickly able to turn barriers into resources by working together and being prepared to collaborate.
As a group of individuals, we have a lot to offer and a lot yet to achieve. Collectively, we have the resources to overcome the barriers that stand in our way. The decision to start your own business is a big one and one that needs careful consideration. Brave Starts and Wize Move Society have many resources that can help you think through if entrepreneurship is something for you.