As we approach retirement, it’s natural to think about how we are going to support ourselves in the decades ahead. Starting a business is an option, but, most of us don’t know where to start. In addition, we are constantly exposed to images of 20-something entrepreneurs succeeding. If the media is to be believed, older entrepreneurs don’t stand a chance. Or do they?
Well, as someone who has started multiple businesses in her 60s, I can tell you that being an older entrepreneur is possible – and not just for the money!
Life after 50 is a time of transitions. Our kids have left the house. Many of us are, by choice or necessity, leaving our decades-long careers. We are thinking about retirement, whether we can afford it or not. Is it any wonder that so many people over 50 are struggling to find meaning in their lives?
There is good news though.
With chaos and uncertainty come opportunities. As a result, life after 50 can be a time of new beginnings.
Take work, for example. After decades of working for other people, we finally have the opportunity to step out on our own and create something ourselves. Since leaving my corporate job at Siemens, I have started several businesses, including Sixty and Me.
Based on my own experience, I can tell you that the benefits of starting a business after 50 are massive – and most of them have nothing to do with money!
Here are a few benefits to starting a business in your 50s or 60s, based on my own experience and conversations that I have had with 100s of other older entrepreneurs.
Does it ever feel like most of your life has been spent focusing on the needs of other people? There are many stages in our lives when our focus is naturally outward. In our 20s, 30s, and 40s, we are looking after our children, navigating careers and nurturing our marriages and social connections. For most of our lives, we are too busy to notice that we have put our own dreams on the sideline.
Many people tell me that reaching their 50s is a big milestone because they suddenly realize how much their lives have been defined by other people. As their schedule starts to free up and their careers start to wind down – or at least experience a lack of momentum – they start to ask themselves “what next?”
Starting a business in your 50s can be a great way to reconnect with your passions. You don’t need to spend your life savings or go out looking for venture capital money to get started. Both of my businesses started as blogs. Over time, they became so much more.
What are you passionate about? What do you want to change about the world? What problem do you wish someone would fix? Maybe it’s time to be a part of the solution.
Another challenge that many of us face as we get a little older is a lack of quality friendships. When your life is focused on your family, it’s easy to mistake social contact for genuine social intimacy. In your 50s, it starts to become clear – sometimes painfully so – how strong your social network is.
Starting a business in your 50s is a great way to make friends with people who share your interests. This is especially true if you focus on building a business around one of your passions. Even if you are one of the lucky few who has saved enough to retire comfortably for 30+ years, no amount of money will give you a sense of purpose. Sharing your talents, passions and ideas with the world almost certainly will.
If there is one thing that I have learned by running my businesses it’s that life after 50 is whatever you make it. If you choose to sit in front of the TV all day, watching re-runs, eating sandwiches and monitoring Facebook on your phone, don’t be surprised if you feel old and tired.
The happiest baby boomers I know are the ones that live the most active lives. They go to the gym regularly. They explore their passions. They start businesses. They simply do more.
Starting a business after 50 forces you to stay engaged with the world. It gives you something positive to focus your attention on and tells the world that you are not ready to be invisible.
As anyone who has ever started their own business knows, running a company requires you to do mental gymnastics every day.
Forget brain games. The best way to keep your brain healthy after 50 is to find novel challenges to solve in the real world. In my experience, there is no better way to do this than becoming an older entrepreneur.
Have you started a business in your 50s or 60s? Did you experience any of the benefits that are outlined in this article? What other non-financial benefits do you think there are to starting a business after 50? Please join the conversation.
Tags Small Business