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Am I Too Old to Be an Entrepreneur?

Updated on September 27, 2019
Jerry Cornelius profile image

In a long and varied career, I have spent a couple of decades in sales, sales training, sales management, and running my own businesses.

Col. Sanders, founded Kentucky Fried Chicken at the age of 62.
Col. Sanders, founded Kentucky Fried Chicken at the age of 62. | Source

Am I too old to be an entrepreneur, to start my own business, to begin again? These are questions which, if you are in your more ‘mature’ years you have probably asked yourself, especially if you have ever nursed the dream of working for yourself.

Could You Be an Older Entrepreneur?

You might have an image of an entrepreneur as young, bursting with ideas and energy. You might imagine them growing a wispy beard and working out of trendy coffee shops, whilst multi-tasking on cool online projects and taking phone calls on Skype whilst simultaneously updating their Twitter profiles. To be honest, it all sounds a bit boring, if not a bit unlikely.

Let’s flip that image on its head, just for the hell of it. Yes, our stereotypical entrepreneur might be young, but remember when we were young – we made a lot of mistakes (well, I did!) and wasted a lot of that youthful energy chasing dreams of making some quick cash (because when you are young you always seem to need money, right?). Focus, also, always seemed to be problematical to me in my youth, maybe it would be the same for a youthful entrepreneur, after all there is social media to keep up with, the never ending quest for a compatible mate and, let’s not forget the search for the perfect beer and burger combination – lots of distractions, difficult to keep one’s mind on things.

So, if being a young entrepreneur isn’t all Prosecco and selfies - joking aside. Then what about being an older entrepreneur? Does an older entrepreneur have the skills, experience and focus to build their own business?

The Rise of the Olderpreneur

According to Barclays Business Banking, who compiled a study of data from over one million business customers, found that the number of SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) owned by people over the age of 65 has grown by 140% over the last decade. In comparison, the number of SMEs run by people between the ages of 25 and 34 only grew by 23%.

This rising trend of older entrepreneurs, or ‘olderpreneurs’ shows no signs of abating, as hundreds of over 55s are seeking new challenges and building new businesses on the back of skills and knowledge gained throughout their lives, when they traditionally might be planning their retirement.

The dream of running a business doesn't always fade as the years roll by...
The dream of running a business doesn't always fade as the years roll by...

Reasons Why You Might Want to Become an Olderpreneur

But why would you want to become an entrepreneur in your later years? You may think I’ve done my bit; I’ve worked hard all my life; I want to put my feet up and watch the grass grow for the rest of my days – and that of course is great and you should do it – if you want to. But, for some of us we might feel we have more to do and more to give. We may have been made redundant too early and struggling to find new work, we may need to bridge a financial gap until our pensions kick in, or may have a burning and so far unrealised dream that we want to put into action.

Ideas For Olderpreneur Businesses

Business Consulting
Online Tutor (Languages, musical instruments etc.)
Courier Service
Real Estate Broker
Property Maintenance
Tech Repair
IT Support
Gardening Services
Pet Services

What skills or passions have you developed over the years that might make a good business?

Financial Reasons for Starting Your Own Business in Later Life

Also, there are often financial reasons for starting your own business in your 50s or later. If you have been in regular job or working your way up the corporate ladder for the last 20 odd years, then the chances are your financial commitments will be less daunting than they were in your 20s.

When we embark of our careers in our late teens early 20s, we may be saving for a house deposit, starting a family and taking on a mortgage, all on a starting salary. In or 50s, our mortgage may be finished or coming to an end, our children may have finished their educations and started their own careers – all of which means that the financial burdens may be lighter. Often there can be windfall cash, from retirement funds or redundancy payments, which can also take the financial pressure off starting a new venture.

Age Has Its Advantages

As discussed earlier in this article, being ‘older’ has advantages – and I don’t just mean a more mature outlook. With a few decades in regular employment behind you, you will have built up a great skill set that you may be able put to work in any new business you start. You may also have built a great network of friends and colleagues who you may be able to call on to help you make your plans come to fruition.

Getting Started

Starting any business can be risky, even with the advantage of an older and possibly wiser head. It is important to consider the financial and legal implications of starting your business well in advance of actually launching it. Also take into consideration the lifestyle changes you want your new venture to bring about, maybe you just want to work at it part-time, or at certain times of the year. What type of business do you want to create, maybe you’ve always dreamed of creating a 'bricks’n’mortor' business like a coffee shop or a ‘Bed and Breakfast’ (by the sea), or maybe you just want to go freelance, become a consultant and continue to use the skills you have built up over a lifetime of work. All this needs careful consideration.

You Will Need a Plan

Whether you will be seeking finance for your new business you will need a plan, this will help solidify and test your business ideas in theory before you put them into practice. Things to consider when putting your ‘business’ plan together are: How much money does your business need to make, do you need to raise capital from a bank or other sources, what exactly will be your start-up and on-going business costs, where will you work from (home/or premises), will you need employees and who will be your competition (and who are their target customers).

These are just a few examples of the things you will need to dig into when planning your business. When doing this don’t just think short-term, consider where you want your business to be in five or even ten years, and what you want to do with it when you have had enough and finally want to retire for good, what will be your exit strategy?

Hard Work, but Worth the Effort

Launching any business is never easy, but armed with the skills and knowledge of a lifetime it can be fulfilling as well as challenging. In the long-run the chance to be your own boss and fulfil a long-held dream is often enough to make many would be older entrepreneur go for it. Along with the potential benefits from being in charge of your own destiny, and often lower (business friendly) taxes.

So, Are You Too Old to Start a New Business?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Jerry Cornelius

Comments

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    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      8 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Very interesting article. Well explained.

    • Md Mosherof Hossain profile image

      Md Mosherof Hossain 

      22 months ago from Chittagong ,Bangladesh.

      This periodical inspiration for entrepreneurs is very much helpful to motivate all class of entrepreneurs.Very good work .Thanks.

    • Jerry Cornelius profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerry Cornelius 

      22 months ago

      Thanks, Liz. Happy you liked it. It seems to make perfect sense, given that a 'job for life' is thing of the past, for older entrepreneurs to be coming to the fore.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      22 months ago from UK

      Great idea for a hub. Older entrepreneurs have the advantage of experience and wisdom that can be put to good use in a business setting.

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