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Removing Mental Blocks to Starting a Small Business After 50

By Margaret Manning June 30, 2014 Managing Money

Since starting Sixty and Me, I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with 100’s of talented, passionate older people. Many members of the community have the skills and experience to supplement their income in retirement – either as freelancers or business owners. So, I often wonder, why is it that so few men and women of my generation set out to supplement their income as they approach, or enter, retirement?

The conclusion that I have come to is that most people allow their own mental blocks to prevent them from having the lifestyle that they want.

At birth, we are alike. By the time we reach our 50s and 60s, we have grown apart. Each of us has our own unique skills and experiences, acquired through a lifetime of hard work and determination. Some of us have been married multiple times. Others have stayed single. We are business people and doctors, scientists and personal trainers, teachers and stay-at-home parents. So, it is somewhat surprising that our mental blocks to starting a business after 50 are strikingly similar.

Let’s explore some of the fears that older adults have as they think about how to supplement their income.

“I’m too old”

This basic fear is also one of the most dangerous? Why? Because it operates on a subconscious level. There are so many stereotypes about older people and, whether we know it or not, they have a powerful impact on our self-image. Think about it. How are older people usually portrayed on TV, in magazines and in everyday conversation? We are almost always presented as mentally slow, tired and, when writers are trying to be kind, “aging gracefully.”

The problem is that these stereotypes are, at best, outdated. At worst, they are insulting and inaccurate. The great majority of 50 and 60 year olds are at the top of their game. In fact, as I argued in a previous article, older adults have almost every advantage when it comes to starting a business.

So, my advice is to ignore the myths about aging. Make an honest assessment of your goals and your skills and start making positive steps today to build the future that you want.

“It’s too late to make a difference”

Financial advisors correctly point out that the earlier you start saving, the easier your retirement will be. But, this isn’t the same as saying that we can’t do anything to impact our financial future in retirement. If anything, building alternative sources of income is more important for older adults than it is for younger adults.

The reason is simple. If you are in your 50s, it is unlikely that you will be able to save $100,000’s before you are persuades (forced) to retire. On the other hand, it is absolutely possible for the majority of older adults to create a side income of $1,000 a month or more through freelancing or product creation.

If you are already in your 50s or 60s, you no longer have the option to “start saving early.” You are where you are. But, you can “start supplementing early.” The sooner you start building the skills and contacts that you need to make extra money in retirement, the most successful you will be.

“I already have enough to retire comfortably”

I’ll admit that there are a few people that really fall into this category. If you already have millions of dollars stashed away, congratulations! Unfortunately, the great majority of people in their 50s and 60s are greatly underestimating the amount of money that they need to maintain their lifestyle in retirement. This is especially true if you take into account medical costs.

But, even if you do have enough money to fill your days with golf and margaritas, would you really want to? According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, if you are a 65-year-old woman today, you will very likely live for 20 more years. Personally, I think that this is pessimistic, given advances in biotechnology and medicine, but, that’s another story.

Could you really watch TV, play golf and sit in the sun for 20 years? If you really have saved enough to retire comfortably, the chances are you are a very productive person. Don’t you want to share your passions with the world, even if you don’t need the money? In a world saturated with information, we need more wisdom – your wisdom to be exact.

“I don’t know how to start a business”

Let me let you in on a little secret. No-one knows how to start a business the first time around. Whether you are 20 or 60, the process is the same. The only difference is that, at 20, you feel like you have more time to recover from your mistakes. The good news is that, as a seasoned veteran of the school of life, your chances of succeeding are better than average.

Whether you want to be a freelance writer, marketing consultant or entrepreneur, there are more resources than ever to help you be successful. The only thing holding you back is your lack of momentum. So, take advantage of the resources on this site. Make a commitment to yourself that you are going to take control of your life after 50. Our generation is reinventing retirement and we need people like you to show the world what is possible.

Have you taken steps to make extra money in your 50s, 60s or 70s? What tips would you give to other members of the community who may be just getting started? Please add your thoughts in the comments below and share this article if you found this article helpful.

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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