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you're never too old to start a business

Business know-how and shifting to self employment

Necessity or late-career, starting up a business when over 50

If you’re a mature professional, over 50, and want to start a business; you’re considered an entrepreneur, and known as a start-up. The words don’t matter, but what matters is that you want to create something meaningful to you.
The over 50 entrepreneur is often more successful at starting up a business than their younger counterparts. And in Australia more and more businesses are being started by this age group every year.

Recent research found that older entrepreneurs are more capable of starting a business than their younger peers.

There are many reasons for this. When you are over 50, you don’t always feel that your working life is over; you’re healthier than earlier generations and may have things you want to accomplish. Or give back, influence the world, or help your local community.

Self-employment is often a viable, more interesting, late-career option that could generate income for many years into your future.

Your know-how, skills and experience developed over many years along with sufficient capital to invest makes it easier.

What will you do and how will you go about doing it?Knowing how a business works helps clarify what you can do and provides a better picture of what might be possible.

If you have a professional qualification or specialist knowledge, it might make it a bit easier deciding where to start. It could be as simple as setting up a private practice and sub-contracting back into your industry.

If not, you will need to explore some further possibilities.

No-What to Know-What
No-what means not knowing what you can do.

You may need some help exploring what might work for you.

In doing this, you move towards a position of Know-What.

That is, having a better idea of what you would like to do, and can do, in a business that suits your interests and abilities and one that customers or clients will pay you for.

But that is not sufficient in itself.

The know-what is knowing what product or service sell, how to find a customer to sell it to, then deliver it so that you can be paid. Doing this profitably is the key ie. to make more than it costs you to produce. Gaining Know-How to do this helps.

No-How to Know-How

No-how means recognising that you’re not really sure about how it all works. That you will need a better understanding of how a business works. How to develop products that sell, and how you can actually sell them in a digital world and turn your idea into something that makes you money.

To make this shift to know-how there are a number of steps to consider:

Practical Strategy
We are talking simple here, not huge plans, almost back of the napkin stuff and not much more than that. We want to create a picture of what is possible, to get a clearer idea of what you want to do and how to get there, but also what you don’t want to do. There is an element of guesswork involved, and you will need to be comfortable with this.

How to sell your products or services
This is where you plan out how you’re going to connect your idea, products or services with the customers or clients who will want to pay you for them. They are out there looking for you.

This is your number one task once you start a business. It’s also where you will need some money to spend. It’s called marketing and it’s how you connect with the ones who need you. Without marketing and spending time or money on it = no revenue, so you need to be smart here and get the best bang for your buck.

The idea is to become an influencer and pull people to you, your tribe. They are looking for you. Stand up!

Business Basics
Strategy and marketing are all critical steps, but there’s more. You still need to get your head around how it all works together; what it takes to run a business if you haven’t run one before.

You will need to gain a better grounding of how all the parts fit together.
While at the same time you’ve got a whole lot of other things happening in your life.

There are 5 things involved in running a business:

  • Generating revenue (by selling your products/services)
  • Making or buying your product/service (to sell or deliver)
  • Selling your product or services (marketing and sales)
  • Administration of the business ( finances/banking etc)
  • Trading Profitably

All are important components of running your business and all work together.

And more: Structures, tools, systems
I started out 20 years ago when it was much more expensive and harder to start a business. I had to wear a tie, needed an office, equipment and more. It was expensive.

Nowadays there are co-working spaces where you can get a desk and access to a range of services and facilities at a low cost. They really are a hive of activity and energy. With the internet and web, there are far more resources available.

I am often in Melbourne and work out of the Hub, just close to the Southern Cross Station. Alternatively, if you have a business account with the National Australia Bank you can freely access their NAB Village in Melbourne.
This keeps you in contact with other small business owners as it can get lonely working for yourself.

Many of the tools and systems that can streamline your work and business are free, reasonably priced and easy to use.

Summing Up
Be positive about what motivates you. It really is about the art of the possible and deciding the sort of future you want. It can be a portfolio mix of paid work, your own business or volunteer work. You have a choice. It’s your future and don’t let it get away. You’re never too old!

What do you think?

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Nigel Rawlins

I work with professional women who are making the shift to self-employment. I have been running a marketing services company for the last 15 or more years, called 13th Beach Marketing Services Pty Ltd, working out of Geelong and Melbourne, Australia. I have been providing marketing services to a range of companies in Geelong, Melbourne and Brisbane Australia. The transition to Wisepreneurs Consulting is now underway.
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