Some people are born entrepreneurs, some choose entrepreneurial career paths and others have entrepreneurship thrust upon them – usually by the fickle finger of financial fate, also known as losing your job in midlife. But whatever the reason, if you’re considering starting a business now that you’re past 40 – the traditional line between youth and middle age – here are some things to think about and a few pointers to take away.
Advice for 40+ Entrepreneurs
1. Trade on Your Age, But Be Clear-eyed About Your Abilities
Your age may be a plus if you have experience in the field your business will enter. Your age and experience will help give you credibility with customers, suppliers and staff – and with lenders when you need to raise money, except perhaps in a Silicon Valley–style business where the stereotype of successful innovators is under age 30, or even under 25.
Perhaps you’ve worked for a company or two recognized as a leader in the field. So much the better. People (perhaps including you) will assume that its success rubbed off on you. Confidence is a valuable commodity, especially when you’re in the early stages of a start-up.
All the same, when your experience has been limited to two or three areas in a large corporation you may be surprised by all that you don’t know. Product development may turn out to be much harder than it looked when you were over in the sales department, for instance. Necessary paperwork for everything from office leasing to hiring staff, installing a phone system, inventory control and insurance options may literally keep you up at night. And that’s before you even get to policy issues, taxes or government paperwork.
TAKEAWAY:Don’t assume that you know all you need or can do all you need. Budget for hiring necessary expertise and extra hands. Draw on your own strengths when and where they matter most. This is a good time to seek an honest assessment of your potential as an entrepreneur from trusted friends and colleagues. It's also a good time to get advice on simplified bookkeeping and setting up record-keeping systems from an experienced small-business manager or professional bookkeeper. Decide on the software you're going to use and take an online tutorial now. If you can't master it, prepare to hire a part-time person with those skills because it won't get easier as you get busier.