Traditionally, we tend to think of aspiring entrepreneurs as young professionals with decades of potential ahead of them and energy to spare. However, judging by current trends, perhaps it’s time for this outdated notion to be refreshed.
According to recent estimates, nearly a quarter of new entrepreneurs fall between the age of 55 and 64. Given the rise in technology and the accessibility it provides, it makes sense that more workforce veterans might decide to start an LLC of their own. But while they certainly have plenty of knowledge, starting a business after 50 has its own set of challenges. Thankfully, finding your way doesn’t have to be so difficult.
So strap in: Let’s discuss what you bring to the startup world and the first steps you can take now to bring your vision to life.
Advantages of Being an Older Entrepreneur
No matter what stage of life you’re in, it’s never too late to pursue your passions. Such is definitely the case for older Americans looking into the startup space. Age, after all, isn’t only a number — it’s an indication of a life lived and lessons learned. With that in mind, let’s explore some of the ways late-in-life business owners can leverage their circumstances to fuel the success and promise of their latest endeavor.
Experience Is Still Key
Older entrepreneurs may initially feel in over their heads. But despite the appearance of insurmountable odds, don’t overlook everything you’ve accomplished up to this point. Your experience — both in business and in life—can often inform your decision-making.
Don’t forget that you have the invaluable assets of intuition and savvy that simply can’t be won without the rigors of time. So rather than lamenting your age, harness everything you’ve absorbed and use it to your advantage.
Financial Flexibility of Late-in-Life Entrepreneurs
Although many young and hungry entrepreneurs may have big dreams and high hopes of where they want to take their business, one thing few have on their side is a reliable source of funds.
By the time you reach 50, you may have developed significant savings you can use to infuse your new business with some startup funds. The financial standing of your business when you start out has a huge impact on its potential; this is another advantage older entrepreneurs are likely to have in their back pocket (literally).
After years of experience and hard work, it may not be just what you know, but who you know. Take advantage of the contacts you have cultivated throughout your career. Ask for references and referrals from former coworkers and clients.
It's also important to embrace technology and the benefits it can offer. Make sure that your LinkedIn account is up to date with all of your work experience. If you're not a LinkedIn member, sign up! You’ll be amazed at how quickly your network of contacts will grow. This site also allows other members to endorse your skills and offer testimonials that will positively impact your new venture.
Solid Support System
Often, young aspiring entrepreneurs dream of the startup they want to leap into after college, only to encounter a ton of resistance. Many might ask: Why risk your future when you could embrace the comfort of a cushy corporate gig?
But it’s an entirely different story for older entrepreneurs. At this stage in your life, you may already have a family of your own, longtime friends and trustworthy colleagues who can give you honest feedback.
Becoming one’s own boss and calling the shots is a dream that many working Americans have. Starting a business later in life will give you access to flexibility and freedom to set your own hours, assess your priorities and ideally work on projects that you enjoy.
The days of punching a clock, squirreling away vacation time and answering to a supervisor will become distant memory. Working for the sake of working and receiving a paycheck may even be replaced with working for a greater purpose or passion.
It’s Never Too Late to Become an Entrepreneur
According to a study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and two MIT professors, the most successful entrepreneurs started their businesses after age 50.
- A 60-year-old startup founder is 3 times as likely to found a successful startup than an entrepreneur that’s half his/her age.
- A 50-year-old startup founder is 2.2 time more likely to start a successful business than an entrepreneur that’s 20 years younger.
- A 50-year-old startup founder is 2.8 times more likely to found a successful startup than an entrepreneur that’s half his/her age.
7 Successful Entrepreneurs That Started Their Business After Age 50
- Leo Goodwin, GEICO: Started GEICO Insurance at age 50, after spending most of his life writing insurance policies.
- Ray Kroc, McDonald's: At age 52, made McDonald's one of the largest and most recognized restaurant franchises in the world.
- Harland “Colonel” Sanders, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC): Created the KFC restaurant chain at age 62.
- Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post: After spending most of her life writing for others, started Huffington Post, now known as HuffPost, at age 55.
- Bernie Marcus, Home Depot: After losing his job at Handy Dan Home Improvement Centers in 1978, started Home Depot at age 50.
- Chaleo Yoovidhya, Red Bull: Came up with the formula for Red Bull at age 53.
- Joseph A. Campbell, Campbell Soups: Started when he turned 52.
Other famous Americans who found a successful “Act Two” in life include Martha Stewart (Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, age 41), Sam Walton (Walmart, age 44), Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company, age 40) and thousands of other intrepid men and women who turned risk into success.
How to Start Your Business After Age 50
Now that you have a better sense of how your business can benefit from your age and experience, you’re probably wondering what you should do to actually put it into action and get your business started. As you brace for the next stage of your professional life, be sure to keep the following tips in mind to maximize your chances of achieving your startup goals.
Know Yourself and Your Limits
One reason your age is such a critical ingredient in your business is that it helps you gauge the terrain ahead. Carefully consider all your options before investing your time and money in a new business venture; if something doesn’t add up, doggedly pursue the answers you need and the level of risk involved.
Outsource and Assemble Greatness
Even the most heralded professional minds of our time can only accomplish so much as single individuals. Remember that — and don’t burden yourself with the notion that you need to wear all hats indefinitely. The most successful companies got that way because of their leadership … but also because of the team that leader hired to execute their vision on a grander scale.
Practice Self-Care Above All Else
This is a critical point for all aspiring entrepreneurs, but especially for older professionals. In the early days of your new business, you may be obliged to drive ceaselessly toward your next objective. While this persistence is a testament to your passion, don’t let it run your life. In other words, know when to disconnect from your work and connect with loved ones and have some fun.
Use Incfile as a Trusted Partner
With any luck, we’ve helped you feel empowered to more confidently move in the direction of your startup dreams. Now we want to help you take the next steps to make your business a reality.
Incfile has already developed an easy-to-use guide for starting a business across a wide range of industries, and there’s no time like the present to begin exploring your options and plotting out your startup strategy. Are you ready to get your business up and running? We can help you form your company and manage it as it grows, too.