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Why Launching A Start Up In Your 50s Is The New Normal

Why Launching A Start Up In Your 50s Is The New Normal

4 min read

You are never too old to launch your start-up. Either you think to start consultancies, a tea room or buying into a franchise ready-made business and starting a branch in your local area, being in your 50s might have its own set of advantages.

Yes, your skills, your connections, your expertise, and your age, are on your side. Mature people have had decades to build the business, leadership, and problem-solving skills that help a startup succeed. And guess what? In a study, Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship, Benjamin Jones, professor of strategy at The Kellogg School, Javier Miranda of the U.S. Census Bureau and MIT’s Pierre Azoulay and J. Daniel Kim have found out that the most successful entrepreneurs tend to be middle-aged. According to the research, a 50-year-old entrepreneur is almost twice as likely to start a successful company compared to a 30-year-old. Those in their early careers may not have accumulated the resources, credibility and connections of older entrepreneurs, and they may be financially constrained with responsibilities such as college loans, mortgages and children. 

In theory, we know that with age a lot of benefits accumulate – co-author Daniel Kim said -. For instance, you get a lot of human capital from experience, you also get more financial resources as you age, as well as social connections, all of which will likely boost your odds of success as an entrepreneur.

Yet again, according to the study, these findings have serious implications, not only for aspiring entrepreneurs, who might be over or underestimating their odds of success based on their age but for society at large. 

After all, if venture capitalists are reluctant to bet on older entrepreneurs, then many potentially successful startups may never get off the ground- Professor Benjamin Jones explained -. If we’re not allocating dollars to the right people in entrepreneurship, we may be losing, in terms of the advances that best raise socioeconomic prosperity. It’s actually a fairly high-stakes question.

The older you are, the greater your chances of success

For the Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship, experience is the new competitive advantage.

The world has changed for seniors and they, in turn, are changing the world – we read in the paper ‘Senior Entrepreneurship: The new normal’.  Today’s 50+ year-olds who have been given the gift of an additional 20–30 years of longevity and good health and are creating businesses of their own—from micro- to multimillion-dollar ventures from glue gun to technology-driven businesses. The senior entrepreneur has years of experience to draw from and that could be corporate experience or managing a family and they are eager to embrace new opportunities.

Need extra help? Ask Kerry Hannon

In her new book ‘Never Too Old To Get Rich: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life’ , Kerry Hannon, leading authority and strategist on career transitions, profiles 20 successful entrepreneurs who have launched their business later in life, especially women.

For many people I have met and counselled, launching a business at midlife is often an inner pursuit to find meaning and to give back to society – she said-. That’s tremendously rewarding. What’s more, becoming an entrepreneur after 50 is not as risky as you may think (or needn’t be) and the psychic and financial payoffs can be well worth it

For those looking to launch their own business here are her top tips: 

  1. Do your research. Ask your self: Why start this business? Why you? And why now? Decide how much of a commitment you are ready to make.
  2. Downsize and plan your financial life, Calculate your start-up costs
  3. Ask yourself what you’re willing to invest, what you might have to borrow, and how much you expect to make from sales.
  4. Before you get started, do a financial checkup. Again, as someone with a few decades of work-world experience, you’ll understand the importance of paying down debt and drawing up a budget. Pay attention to the bigger-ticket items, not just cutting back on restaurant spending, to make sure you have that ability to be nimble.
  5. Do not tap into your retirement funds. It may be tempting, but that should be the absolute last resource you turn to fund a business. 
  6. Reach out to your networks of social and professional contacts. Your network, your tribe, your believers are the ones who are going to propel you forward to success. 
  7. Don’t ignore the big players in the small-business help arena. Your town’s Rotary Club or chamber of commerce can be a wonderful source of mentors and advisers. 
  8. Browse the web for free resources.  

Setting up your business 

Get help from the UK government

A Start-Up Loan is a government-backed personal loan for individuals looking to start or grow a business in the UK that can provide £500-£25,000. To qualify, you will need to submit a business plan, pass credit and eligibility checks and be starting a company or be in control of one that has been trading for less than 24 months (this can include a franchise operation).

Go Crowdfunding

There are a surprising number of crowdfunding platforms out there that you can turn to. As you explore your options, make sure you understand the fee structure, funding model, and other details to be sure you find the right platform for your campaign. The most popular are Kickstarter IndieGoGo Quirky , and GoFundMe . Each crowdfunding platform targets certain niche funding pools, so it will be imperative to research each platform to determine which one will offer you the best exposure.

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