Mark Elliott, A Business Coach With Heart

Starting a Business After 50: Tips for Success 

In this conversation, business coach Mark Elliott provides advice for entrepreneurs over 50 who are looking to start their businesses.


In this conversation Mark provides advice for entrepreneurs over 50 and we discusses the unique challenges that older entrepreneurs face, like learning new technologies and finding their passion. Mark emphasises focusing on your lifestyle desires, carefully tracking your spending and outsourcing tasks you don't enjoy. He also talks about the importance of self-care to maintain energy and mental clarity. Mark co-founded Startup School for Seniors to provide a supportive community for older entrepreneurs to gain business skills. He encourages older entrepreneurs to believe in themselves, try new things, and find meaning.

About Mark Elliot

Mark Elliot is a business coach based in the UK who works with entrepreneurs over 50. He has experience starting his businesses in IT and electronics. Mark co-founded Startup School for Seniors with Suzanne to provide online business training targeted at older entrepreneurs.

Challenges Facing Older Entrepreneurs

Starting a business after 50 comes with unique challenges. Older entrepreneurs may need to learn new technologies and modern business practices. They also face ageism and bias when seeking financing. However, with life experience, expertise, and new skills, people can successfully start businesses at any age.

Finding Your Passion and Purpose

Mark emphasises discovering your lifestyle desires and motivations before starting a business. Consider what you want more or less of in life and what success means to you. Avoid just copying others' ideas of success. Coaching can help reveal your passions and purpose.

Finding Your Passion and Purpose

Mark emphasises discovering your lifestyle desires and motivations before starting a business. Consider what you want more or less of in life and what success means to you. Avoid just copying others' ideas of success. Coaching can help reveal your passions and purpose.

Budgeting and Outsourcing:

Track your current spending before budgeting for a new business. Consider minimum income needs and expected business costs realistically. Outsource tasks you dislike or need to be more skilled at. Technology can automate many processes. Focus spending on reaching your goals.

The Importance of Self-Care

To maintain energy and mental clarity, pay attention to diet, exercise, sleep, and other self-care needs. This enables you to make good decisions and prevent burnout. Understand when and how you work best. Don't neglect your health while starting a business.

Neurodiversity and Accessibility

Many older entrepreneurs identify as neurodiverse or disabled. Startup School for Seniors provides tools and communities tailored to entrepreneurs with diverse abilities. Accommodations level the playing field. All are encouraged to try starting a business.

Mark Elliott, Business Coach Transcript

Nigel Rawlins: Welcome Mark to the Wisepreneurs podcast. Could you introduce yourself and tell the listeners a little bit about you?

Mark Elliott: Hello, listeners. My name's Mark and I work as a coach with people who have businesses who are probably over the age of 50 and I work with people over 50 who are probably really good at something, really good at what they do, but they find starting a business or running a business or doing something slightly more difficult than either they expected or they wanted or yeah, maybe it's not going so great.

Nigel Rawlins: Tell me something about that then. Obviously the over 50s is who I'm talking to as well. If they're an expert in their field, can you explain maybe some of the things they know and what are the problems they're finding that you can deal with?

Mark Elliott: Often when people are in their 50s then they've been working, doing something for quite a long time and as we know doing something the same over a long period of time actually does make you an expert. But there are things when you start to work for yourself that you have to do that you've never done before and that might be finding your own clients, that might be charging for your time or finding a way not to charge for your time but for your expertise or that may be organisation, you may be terrible at organisation.

So when people start on their own, when they start to be freelance or self employed or set up their own company, they are often doing things for the first time or doing things that they're not really very skilled at. So sometimes people get super busy. They see what other people are doing, what other companies are doing and thinking, yes, I've got to do all of that.

So they do all of that. They do all of the social media posting across all the social media. They do all the public speaking. They run training courses, which they have to sell tickets for. They do podcast recording. They do blogging. They speak to their local networking organization. So sometimes people do everything.

Everywhere, all at once. Now that's a great title for a film, isn't it? Anyway, they do everything, everywhere, all at once. And because they're doing so much, they find that they're not as successful ultimately as they would hope to be. And sometimes that's because they're just doing too much and nothing is good. And sometimes they're doing too much and they don't notice where success lies or they don't notice where their own success lies. So in those cases then as a coach then I can help people unpick their activities to find the things that they're good at, find the things which they can improve on, find the things that they can outsource or delegate, find the things that are absolutely working for them so they're enabling them to focus on what success looks like for them, and the ways to achieve that rather than copying somebody else's perceived success and doing lots of things that they have no skill or aptitude for and that don't actually work. So helping people stop being busy is one big thing that I do.

Nigel Rawlins: That sounds fantastic. Let's do a bit of a hypothetical. You've got somebody who's in their 50s, they're working in a professional position, and they're getting sick and tired of work because they don't like the boss, or they don't like their co workers, or they're just sick of going to work. And they want to do something themselves, and they see Mark Elliott, and they contact you.

 What would happen if they contact you and what would you do?

Mark Elliott: I would have a chat with them. I'd invite them to book a call with me so we can talk about what it is that they want to achieve. Now sometimes these people have a real idea about what they want to do next and that might be starting a business. So we might talk about how to start a side hustle. Or what their exit strategy from work might be.

And sometimes they may want to know what running a business or what starting a business or being a consultant looks like. And I might suggests they pop into startup school, which I'm sure we'll talk about later, to find out the basics of what starting a business is all about, what running a business, what selling your expertise is all about.

But really that first call is about uncovering what they want and that uncovering what you want is a big question and often people have never asked themselves that, perhaps for 20, 30 years. Yeah, what do you want? What do you want, Nigel?

Nigel Rawlins: Now, in that, do you actually get a picture of what they're good at? Because I must admit, when I speak to people, I get a sense, this person's really smart and they're really good at that. They don't often see that. Do you see what they'd be good at when you talk to them?

Mark Elliott: yes I form a judgment about how they present themselves to me, but for me that doesn't really tell me what it is that they want to do. That often tells me what they've become good and practiced at doing. So that might be presenting themselves, they might be speaking clearly about their past history, but that doesn't really tell me what they want from their future.

 There are questions like what do you want to do more of? What do you want to do less of? How do you want your life to be? Which are often more pertinent questions than in my experience, than What is it that you're good at? What is it that you think other people will pay you for? Because sometimes that may be something that they absolutely hate, but they're just really good at it.

Nigel Rawlins: Okay, so this person says I'm really good at this. I don't really want to do it, but I want to go into business myself and get out of this job. What would you advise them then?

Mark Elliott: I would advise them to go find a client. If it's some expertise to sell, then we would explore how their existing network might contain people who would prefer a a direct relationship with them in rather than one through their company. So we would explore about how many potential clients they may have.

Probably explore, because they're in a job, with an income, with a salary, with a pension, probably explore what else they want other than money and also what is the minimum amount of money they would consider leaving the comfort and safety of a regular salary job. Despite the tough things, the difficult things, the the future, the negatives in the future that are going to come, the lack of promotion, the office politics, the office shit, whatever it is that they want to leave, but to explore what actually they want so that they can focus on that.

Because, surprise ladies and gentlemen, starting your own business doesn't always mean that you start off with the same salary you left. Starting a business often means starting, not quite at ground zero, but starting with one client who pays this much, doesn't take up all of your time. Perhaps you might be unsure about how much you should charge, or what the value you provide, or so there may be some insecurities about that leap, that future, that ah, it gets rid of the office politics, but actually it gets a whole new set of stresses and strains and unusual adventures for you that you may not have thought of when you thought, I just want to get rid of where I am.

Nigel Rawlins: Don't worry, that's what I did 20 years ago. I had no idea. I needed you 20 years ago. But 20 years ago, everything was very different. You had fax machines you had to have an office and silly things like that, you've been in business over the years. How do you find starting out in business today compared to say 20 years ago? Is it easier? Do you think?

Mark Elliott: To pick up your point about fax machines and physical offices, then I do think today there are, there's a lot more different opportunities for people out there. Like what? When we look at fax machines and offices, then of course there is, everything's virtual now. We don't have an office. I don't have an office.

I have a dining room. Okay, with a pile of books in the corner. But and we have this thing called social media. We have LinkedIn. We have virtual meetings. You're apparently in Australia, and I'm in the mothership of the United Kingdom. We're talking throughout all that distance, whereas 20 years ago, that would have been much more unusual, and we were much more likely to get on a plane to talk to each other. But in all of this variety, actually doing business can be just as simple as it was previously, but there is a temptation to do everything everywhere all at once, as I say, and the temptation to do everything can become overwhelming really quite quickly.

Nigel Rawlins: I guess the main thing is when you first start out, you've gotta get a client, you've gotta get somebody who's gonna pay you to get it moving. So let's just talk about you, you've mentioned outsourcing and not doing everything. Obviously that's gonna cost them money. So either they're gonna do it on a shoestring or they should put a bit of a budget together.

So what do you suggest they consider? If they decide I've had enough of work, I'm gonna get a bit of a payout, or they've been retrenched and there's a payout. They can start their own business, and obviously it's much easier today to do that than it was when I started out. What would you suggest they do in terms of a budget, outsourcing, and getting some help to get moving?

Mark Elliott: Before budgeting, I would say doing. Before budgeting, I say start to fail at the things you're not good at for yourself so that you can understand more about things you can outsource. What do if I'm talking about writing blog posts on LinkedIn and I'm a, I'm terrible with grammar or I'm really not clear with what I'm saying.

I could get a copywriter to write that for me, or actually I could get ChatGPT or another AI engine to write that for me. But actually, until I've started to write something, I'm probably not going to know how difficult or easy potentially that might be, and where it might fit within my LinkedIn expertise or communication strategy.

 You talked about budgeting. I would say do something everywhere, one at a time, and discover what you can do, what you would like to do. And working with clients, one of the things we often do is actually do a time audit. What are you spending your time on? And then look at what technology can be used in order to do the things you don't like doing. Booking my calendar. Oh, thank goodness I don't have 15 emails for every meeting. Now, internationally, that used to be a real nightmare, finding out when the time changes are. They're at the same time everywhere. Don't worry. How many hours are there? Oh, I have to get that clock out. But find out what technology is available that can do things. And when you say budgeting, then actually the key part of budgeting, when you've never left a job except go to another job, is actually how much money do you need? How much money do you spend? It's about your personal budget for the lifestyle that you want to create and your minimum lifestyle.

So budgeting is about how much do you spend? How much do you spend on your accommodation, on food, on eating out? How much do you spend on going to conferences, going to networking events that you want to go to that you take part of, that will be part of your future life. So understanding from historical records, from how much you spent last month, how much spent last December, how much you spent last June, how much your holidays cost.

Understanding what you spend now is really important before you start to think about how much you want to spend on a virtual assistant. It might be a secretary, it might be an executive assistant, it might be somebody who does all your social media posts, for example. So find out how much you spend and then look into your future career and find out how much you want to earn.

How much money is essential? What are your expectations of income? And then double and triple that to find out your cost. But budgeting is about how much you spend really before you start to build this empire, with offices, virtual assistants, with associates, with whatever it is that makes up an agency or consultancy or a single person business.

Nigel Rawlins: You also work with Suzanne with the Startup

Mark Elliott: Suzanne and I set up startup school for seniors three or so years ago, and we set it up because we knew that some of our friends and I indeed ourselves, didn't know how to set up a business consultancy, an agency, or a charity or a social enterprise. But actually there were some simple truths, some facts and some things you have to do, pay tax, like find clients, pay yourself, that some people didn't have a clue about. So we set up Startup School for Seniors, which is an online program for people to learn the basics of business. So they can pick and choose those things that they know and those things that they don't know to find out what they need to put together in order to start their own business.

 Suzanne and I started Startup School for Seniors and we've had thousands of people come through the doors. And you know what? It has exceeded our expectations and confounded our expectations because we expected people to come in and to want to sell their own expertise to build a scalable business.

That's what we thought people were going to create. They were going to create their own agencies. They were going to create their own barrister practices. They were going to create their own teaching agencies. But actually, it's and nothing. So it ranges from people who want to make a bit of money from their hobby.

So they might be crocheting, or knitting, or making hats, or making trousers, making cakes, making sweets. Or on the other side, they may be wanting to change the world that they've come from. So they may be wanting to change the face of adoption. Or training for newly adopting parents.

Or they may want to change the face and the diversity of audiences for theatre. Or they may be wanting to spread their love of walking to other people. We've been so surprised by the sheer variety of what people want to do. And sometimes what they say they want to do at the beginning of the process isn't actually what they end up doing.

And I was thinking of one woman who came in who had tried to, had been let go, but made redundant towards the beginning of the pandemic. She worked for 30 years in HR. Senior woman, highly skilled, had found it really difficult to find another senior position in HR. Very frustrated, had a skill in coaching people to be triathletes.

She was a runner, an older runner herself, but had some coaching skills. And she came through our program wanting to be a triathlete coach. Oh, that's great. None of this, aren't you a bit old to do that? It's great. But actually in uncovering what it would take in order to make money from triathlete coaching, she was able to, in part, relax who she was.

So not only did she get ongoing permanent contracts with the Olympic Park with and this is a non professional coach who doesn't have an international track record, but because of her methods, because of what she'd done as a love of sport that she'd loved for a long time, she was able to achieve contracts just by asking the right people.

But once she had found that's the way that business worked, what goes and happens? Blimey, she goes and gets another HR job, doesn't she? Because in understanding how the way the world of commerce works, with regard to her love of running, cycling, swimming, remembering what a triathlon is, then...

Actually, she was able to relax into the modern world of work, present herself in a different way, in a less, maybe a less formal career orientated way, and just highlight her skills and experience that she wanted to use in the future. And she was snapped up. She applied for a job, that she half wanted and was actually able to create the job she wanted part time.

 Which allowed her to continue with her triathlete coaching. Yeah, so that's the kind of life journey. Oh, that's a great word, isn't it? Life journey that I love seeing participants on Startups School. So somebody who came in with one idea, had another. And then uses those new skills, that new learning, that new understanding of the modern world of work, in order to create something that works better for her.

 Yeah, that's a success story. But, we have scalable businesses, we have lots of food businesses that have come through, people have written books and found out ways to make money out of it. Answer, not much, but found a way to, to make money from exhibiting their expertise through a book and all the other things that they enjoy doing for money with other people.

 Yeah, we've had sex workers through who've come in to find out how to give more variety and longevity to their services. It's a village, isn't it? It's a village, this global world we live in. But what people do when they're over 50, it's amazing. It's not just one thing and it's often not the thing that they first thought.

Nigel Rawlins: So it sounds like you give them a lot of hope and then they find themselves again. So are they struggling when they come to you? They're they're 50, they're not getting the work. So they're a little bit desperate to do something, but does this program give them the confidence to believe in themselves again or what do you think?

Mark Elliott: So when we started this, we had a real preconception of what the over 50s were like. We thought that they had similar experiences of life. But I came from IT, from computer technology. I had... built an empire, built a huge business and then I'd skipped out and built an electronics business and I'd done research.

So I had an understanding of who I was and I had found it difficult in my 50s to start selling my own expertise. So I've been through that piece, but actually what we've found is that people over 50 are never the same. Never. Just as we say, stop ageism. Actually, you can't assume you know what people over 50 are like.

Everybody is different. Everybody has a different life experience, although many people share the same things, and people have different aspirations moving forward. For us... and Startup School for Seniors, we provide a platform to allow people to get on and start the business they want by learning things, by seeing other people do these things, and by experimenting themselves within a safe environment.

And safe, meaning without the rough and tumble of the outside world. But not only that, we also help people uncover more about themselves. And that's where actually the similarity with coaching comes in. Finding out about yourself can be remarkable. You can read a book and go, Oh my goodness, that is me. I need to change my life and this is how I'm going to do it. But often it's not like that. So what we provide, and I provide as a coach, is a talking head to allow people to explore what it is that they want. What it is that perhaps is stopping them from doing the things that they want allegedly want to do, or achieving that thing that they want to achieve. And sometimes that is because the things they say they want aren't actually what they actually want.

So their motivators may not be their past history. They may judge themselves purely on their success. And therefore they see the future in terms of a new success. But that harsh judge of the perfection that you've built up for 30 years, gor blimey governor! That can be a real high bar to hit your head against. And actually, when we just think of ourselves purely of our success, then that means that we can get... depressed, upset, think negatively about ourselves when we don't achieve that success immediately. So often as a coach I work with people who've been doing the right things but have been banging their head against no traction on LinkedIn or no follow on meetings or single client engagements and they're really judging themselves so harshly.

That learning to accept themselves, learning to learn again, learning to improve again, learning to listen to themselves and to clients, learning to explore the modern world of business. TikTok maybe, or old fashioned meeting people down the pub or down the cafe is yeah is what I do as a coach. So Startup School for Seniors is not just teaching the basics of starting your own business.

It's not just giving you a group of people who are doing those first steps with you at the same time, but it's also enabling you to be a different person, the person who you need to be to make this happen, and the person who you want to be in this next stage of life. Now that sounds to me as a restrained Englishman, happy clappy, but really for many people, starting a business later in life can be pretty darn hard. Often, especially men, will build a business and then collapse on themselves when that business doesn't happen. And that collapsing on themselves can take the part of anger, it can take the part of depression, it can take the part of social isolation. For me, also as a coach, it's about helping people deconstruct the environment that they've built that leads them to feel like this and allow them to feel more happiness, more contentedness, more satisfaction with what they do during the day.

With this business, selling their expertise, selling their guitars, selling their training courses, providing support for other people that they want to provide support for, create the impact that they want to create by being a better person within themselves, for themselves, to liberate that person, to make it happen for them.

Nigel Rawlins: That sounds like a whole change of identity for them. I guess that must be pretty scary for some people. Do you they're obviously not aware that's what's going to happen, but is this the pattern that you're seeing? That they do shift their identity?

Mark Elliott: Yes and some people are aware that they need to be a different person from who they are now to be successful in a new way. And some people have planted that flag of their old identity and they will die defending it. So, the journey to being a different person, telling yourself a different story, and telling other people that story, is approached in different ways with different people. Some people, it's a method, it's a process that they know they're going to go on, and they're happy practicing it. And other people need to sometimes understand why it isn't working for them now, to really understand that almost on an academic basis before they are prepared to step over the line and be somebody new. But, and that's the joy of coaching, in that you can help people wherever they are, whoever they are, to achieve whatever they want to achieve. And with Startup School, it's beautiful because it does what it says on the tin. It's a startup school for seniors, and we don't really explain what that tin means to everybody.

So everybody assumes that it does what they think it's meant to do. And we provide a platform and a program and a community where they can make that happen for themselves. Startup School for Seniors. I'm not a senior, but I want to go to Startup School and everybody's going to Startup School and I want to start a business.

Great. We do that. What's starting a business all about? I don't know. Start up school for seniors can do that for me. I need a program. I need investment. I'm going to be the next Elon Musk or Delia Smith. Now there's a blast from the past. I need to understand how it's going to happen. Yeah. We do that too.

So it does what it says on the tin and all the ingredients is a little fuzzy. Then you have to take your glasses and really have a look at that tin to find out, oh, actually, why don't you open that tin, have a little look inside, have a poke with a fork, have a little taste. Does it need cooking? Or can it be eaten straight from the tin?

Does it need heating? Oh we're here now, why don't we do something? That is the joy of Startup World for Seniors because people come on it and they find that starting a business isn't for them. People come on it and find that, their ambition was, oh my goodness beyond their expectation, actually, what they want to do is 1% of that and they'll be absolutely happy.

Or some people find somebody else is doing this, why don't I join them? Why don't I go and make that happen with them? Sheer joy. And if people need help being a different person, overcoming those obstacles, then that's where the coaching comes in. Real one-to-one stuff to help people deconstruct their expectations and reconstruct habits, behaviors, tools, in order for them to live the next part of life, which is actually probably going to be almost as long as the bit they've left behind.

Nigel Rawlins: An interesting thing I've just suddenly thought of, which I should have brought up the beginning. Start up school for seniors. What do we call ourselves when we're older? And what age do you need to be if you want to start a business? Is there a limit or can you be any age?

Mark Elliott: You can be any age. Our oldest participant has been at 87. And our youngest participant has been 32. So starting a business, it doesn't matter what age you are when you start it. Statistically, there are some things about raising external funds, if you want to raise external funds for starting a business.

 If you're a woman, there's that famous statistic that less than 2% of American venture capital funds are are provided to female led organizations. 7. 8% are lent to people with to companies with females in their senior team. And it's less than 0. 3% which is given to all female founders.

Yeah. So we have a gender thing about finance and we have an age thing around finance too. So yes, when you're older there are different ways of approaching the existing system, but you can start a business at any age. Yeah, and there are different outcomes that one might expect for you, but really people's motivations and their desired outcomes when they start a business later in life are nuanced and different in just as for any age, but you can be successful at any age.

Nigel Rawlins: That's inspiring. The only thing I find is being an older senior person is the energy. Unless I get a good night's sleep and plenty of exercise, I don't always have the energy and I'll be honest, sometimes I can't be stuffed doing stuff. I just take my time and take time out sometimes.

Mark Elliott: And that is one of the key things about starting your own business. It's about what works for you. What do you want? So what do you want? That might be, I want this kind of income. Or, I want to make this kind of change, or I want to create this kind of legacy from my expertise. But it's also about what kind of lifestyle do you want?

What do you want to do? Do you want to work six days a week like you used to? Do you want to see your grandkids? Do you want to travel more? Do you want some flexibility? What is it actually that you want? So that is a desire of the future and sometimes that desire and understanding about ourselves, we need to recalibrate that. So you spoke earlier about those people who have got really fed up. with their corporate existence or their responsibility and they just don't want it anymore. We had somebody who was running an accident and emergency department for 15 million people during the pandemic and she had come through the program because she knew that she wasn't going to be able to keep this up and she wanted to learn a bit more about the outside world so that when she made the leap then she wouldn't be in the dark. Sometimes our frustration with where we are is also because of physical differences, and sometimes our mental differences, sometimes it's our family which provides stresses and strains and joy and delight that we want to take more part of, so reassessing who we are, what we do, what makes us tick, what makes us not tick is part of becoming a successful solo founder, becoming freelance. Understanding, for me, understanding that if I don't go for a run, Once, twice a week or at least go for a walk by the river. If I don't get my yoga in, then actually my brain won't function as well.

I won't think as clearly. Structuring my day, my week, in order to make that happen. Often, when we start a business, we can forget about ourselves. and forget how we function as our best selves to give our business the best chance of success. If I look back at two weeks and realize I've not been for an early morning walk or an early morning run and then I wonder why I feel near overwhelmed, then actually the answer is there in front of me.

Unless I have a clear head, I won't make good decisions, and if I don't make good decisions, I'll make less good decisions, or defer decisions, and that will cloud my ability to do things. Getting older does mean that there are some things like arthritis, there are some biomechanical things which get a bit different.

I know I'm afraid of my heart conditions because my family have heart conditions and I'm getting to that age where... it makes a difference. Taking care of our aging selves is a good thing. But it's also a good time to think about what is our best working environment? How do we work best? What has worked best for us in the past?

Does that happen now? So reappraising the situations in which we work well. But you started by talking about Startup School for Seniors. What do we call ourselves? Startup School for Seniors is actually a good old bit of English humour. We're not startup, we're not seniors. So we started by claiming a term which we are definitely not and now I'm more than comfortable to be described as a senior.

For those of you without a hearing eye, I am a rather handsome, white, bearded chap who looks much younger than, oh goodness, really, who looks much younger than, how old am I? 59, I think, anyway. Seniors. It started as a bit of a joke. Who's a senior? What's a senior? Who's older? And actually, we're age focused.

But age agnostic. We don't care how old people are. If people think that a startup program for old people will go at the pace that they want, we'll give them the information that they want. We'll give them an introduction to social media. Come and ask me, social media. What is that? I have no idea what that is, but give them introduction to those things which have bypassed them, which will allow them to be with people who are similar.

In some way, people who perhaps have caring responsibilities for elderly parents or siblings or partners which interrupt their work at a time. Maybe they need flexibility. Maybe there might be other people on Startup School for Seniors. So seniors, who's a senior? Everybody's senior to some people and junior to others.

So yeah, startup school for seniors was come along if you think it's right for you, if you don't think it's right for you, then stay away because here we are. We're going to not assume that you know anything and we are going to assume that you are expert in you could be expert in everything because you have lots of life experience.

And so we have an amazing humility to know that on every cohort, in every course, there are going to be world renowned experts who are so much better than we are on everything that we just provide an introduction to everything for anybody who's missing any part of commercial knowledge. So seniors, are you old?

Do you feel old?

Sign up for our weekly Newsletter

Nigel Rawlins: I don't. And I'm older than you. Now, okay is there anything else we need to talk about? I think we've covered pretty much just about everything about seniors and starting up and business, which has been pretty good.

Mark Elliott: I am going to mention neurodiversity because it's a bit of a trend nowadays on social media, certainly in educational terms for young people. And when I was young, people weren't neurodiverse. At school, people were either disabled, they were backward or they weren't. Some people were bright, and some people were left behind. And we got jobs. We went to college, maybe to university, and we got jobs, and we did whatever our job did, and we were happy. We had a job for life. We had a career for life. And we did things. And what we are finding at Startup School is that sometimes people's careers really suited the way their minds work.

That when they were eccentric, or quirky, or difficult, then actually, just like their pets, their job suited them. And at this junction where people are changing their lives, they leap out of, or are pushed from these jobs, and they find the world of work is a tough, cruel space and doesn't act and support them and doesn't work the way that works for them.

And sometimes those people find a label of neurodiversity where they are either labeled from the outside world or find other people who think more like they do than a standard film the TV, a standard film that the Americans churn out so much of. So neurodiversity, people are finding diagnosis or finding that actually the way they think is not normal. So they may bump across a diagnosis which makes them understand why sometimes they've found things difficult in their lives, but they've managed to get their way through. And now it's different. Neurodiversity. So that's my understanding of neurodiversity now. And two key elements of the neurodivergent family are ADHD, which is often typified by bright shiny syndrome where people have lots of brilliant ideas that they keep moving into and then finding that they get bored with and move on from them and people often find that they can't achieve what they want to do. Perhaps they may become frustrated with their inability to achieve what they want to do in business.

And another one is on the autism spectrum, where there may be social difficulties where they've always been introspective or introverted or have few really key friends. But actually this world of work means going out into places which are really different, that they feel really unsafe in. And that tends to knock self confidence in a huge way. But the world of neurodiversity is massive and different and everybody's experience of it is quite different. Working with people who are unemployed or underemployed or wishing to be more purposeful or useful in life, then we have found many more people than statistically appropriate have been through startup school because they find it more difficult than others to get going with this business. So we provide tools which are suitable for people with various autistic traits and people and tools and tips and experiences for people with ADHD bright shiny syndromes.

However one might experience that. There's also this thing around disability or different ability. Deaf has gone more profoundly different. So on Startup School, we have also, we also provide tools and techniques and ways to level the playing field to give people an equal chance of success in doing what they want to do.

So there are many more people who experience different abilities whether over 50. My deafness has certainly come on more and we find people who are less able to move, who may have mobility issues, but who may also have struggled but found a groove doing something and now they don't have that groove, they don't have that framework to help them move forward.

So within Startup School, then we provide new ways for them to become more comfortable in earning their own living in doing what they want to achieve. And as a coach, then it helps to be different in that people can see my empathy. Because they can understand my difficulty in receiving communication. It's not something that I hide. And within Startup School, then we respect all kinds of different and create safe space for people with all kinds of different to go through the learning and startup journey. But neurodiversity is one of those things and disability is certainly another. So some 40% of our participants acknowledge either a long term health difficulty which changes their ability to do things.

Maybe they run out of energy. Maybe they need time out amongst themselves. Or some physical or sensorial difference. We've had blind people coming through the program and deaf people who are more deaf than me come through the program or people who have different approaches to the senses than us.

 Yeah starting a business may not be for everyone and not everyone may have the innate skills, knowledge and experience to make a go of it. But you can try. You can learn, you can change, and you can find some way of making a living from doing something that you know can learn, or can make, or arrange, or, yeah, so we can make it happen.

Nigel Rawlins: That's fantastic. It sounds like you provide a very supportive environment. Well done. All right. How would you like people to contact you or find you?

Mark Elliott: You can find us at StartupSchoolForSeniors. com We are an online program, so suitable for people all around the world. We also have a group program which we have had people from all around the world on all different types of time zones come along. So come along to StartupSchoolForSeniors. com

All one word. And for coaching if you have a problem with your business, I'm at ArrestedArt. com. That is ArrestedArt. com. That's a badge of my first failure. Arrestedart. com. I thought I could sell art to people who've never bought art before, from artists who had never sold art before. And you know what? I didn't have the skills or experience or knowledge to do it at that point.

 Bad to pride, my first failure. Arrestedart. com. Find out more about my personal coaching and coaching programs.

Nigel Rawlins: And I would highly recommend it. You've been wonderful. A wonderful guest. Thank you very much. Thank you for coming on the podcast.

Mark Elliott: Oh, it's been a pleasure and really interesting to, to share what we know around the world. Lovely to meet you, Nigel.