6 Ways for an Older Woman to Become a Successful Entrepreneur
The numbers coming from the U.S. point to a rise in the number of entrepreneurs aged 55 to 64. Research by the Kauffman Foundation on entrepreneurship indicates an increase from 15% in 1997 to 26% in 2015.
Is this because necessity is the mother of invention, or is it simply that the number of 55-64-year-olds is on the rise? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of women-owned firms also increased two-and-a-half times the national average. Could this also be a factor?
Maybe it stems from the fact that Baby Boomers like to have flexibility and freedom, and running your own business can create the space for these.
If you have followed my blogs, you know that I am an entrepreneur. I started a new business in my 60s, and I am a proponent of working as long as you need or want, with the paradigm shift to supplementing rather than accumulating retirement income.
One of the first arguments against starting a new business in your 60s, is that Boomers are slow in the uptake of technology. My immediate counter-argument is that with Google and YouTube one can learn anything. If that seems insurmountable, hire a 20-something who can do it for you!
Older Women Have a Wealth of Experience
I can think of far more advantages of starting a business later in life. We have gained a wealth of experience and wisdom on our journey up the corporate ladder. We have worked at our careers and grown a network of useful contacts.
And last, but not least, we don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel because we have already seen that a round wheel offers the best solution.
David Deeds, the Schulze Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, in an interview with Kerry Hannon for Next Avenue, proposes that women over 50 are well suited to starting their own businesses.
He adds that women, in general, are more open to learning, and of course, as we already know, women are collaborative beings. Entrepreneurship is a team sport – and women/mothers/housewives already have experience with managing a team!
In another interview, this time with Carla Harris, when she was chair of the National Women’s Business Council, Kerry wrote that the increase of women-owned businesses in recent years is unprecedented.
Harris says that the growth in the number of women entrepreneurs over the age of 65 climbed by 42% from 2007 to 2012.
How to Take Advantage of This Growing Trend
So, if you are feeling inspired by these trends, I have a few pointers:
Don’t Involve Your Retirement Funds
If possible, do not use your retirement funds for your new venture. Ring fence them for when you do need to stop work.
Use the network you have built over your career years to help you raise funds to start your business.
Know the Worth of Your Product
Enthusiastic or opportunistic entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed because they tend to believe in themselves and their products.
Make Sure Your Idea Is Sellable
Bounce your ideas off your personal network before you launch, and then define who your customers will be and what their specific needs are, so you can tailor your product to be attractive to them.
Use the Internet – it is an amazing resource, full of wonderful information. Always cross-reference as it is also a source of fake news.
Run a Trial
Run a proof of concept to assess interest in your product, before you sink a lot of money into the business.
You only have to look at your Pinterest feed to see that women have great ideas, are talented and creative. As mothers and housekeepers, they are already familiar with managing budgets and the logistics of people.
What women often lack is belief in themselves and the confidence that they can handle it. We all have days when we think that we cannot do it – I have them too. The saying “Fake it till you make it” will stand you in good stead when it comes to having the confidence to run your own business.
If you still have doubts, find a coach or a mentor to help you brainstorm ideas when you hit overwhelm and have difficulty seeing the wood from the trees.
Have you ever considered becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business? What kind of business would you like to start? Please share your story in the comments below. You are bound to find encouragement in our wonderful community of women!
Hilary Henderson is a Retirement Coach. She brings to her coaching her experience as an Occupational Therapist as well as an entrepreneur. Her mission is to help people find relevance, purpose and meaning in their retirement years. Facebook is one way to reach out to her.