Usually, when I am invited to speak about entrepreneurship, the focus is on young entrepreneurs who are ready to rule the world. However, you don't have to be young to become an entrepreneur. I was in my late thirties when we started Queue-it, and I was actually the youngest of the founders.
Waiting to start your own business until you are older and more experienced certainly has its advantages, so don't assume you missed your chance to become an entrepreneur just because you are older. Remember that seasoned, professional founders have a huge variety of both business and life lessons to draw from when they start. That certainly helped us when we launched our startup. We also had the advantage of knowing each other quite well, since we all worked together in our previous careers. We knew exactly who was doing what, and what our strengths and weaknesses were.
The other day, a woman in her late forties approached me asking me for advice. She wanted to start her own business but had second thoughts because of her age. First, we talked about the more practical matters of entrepreneurship that I also discuss with young entrepreneurs, such as choice of name, economics, registration of business, etc., but we also discussed a few more things that I'd like to share with you:
Tips for seasoned and professional entrepreneurs
Start with something familiar
To make it easier for yourself, focus your startup on something familiar. If you have worked in the retail business for many years, then I advise you to stay within that field. You probably already have many contacts (you might even be a well-known player) and you can draw from your previous experience and learned lessons. Therefore, if you are working in the IT industry, you are more likely to succeed if you stay there than if you want to start up a new clothing line for children.
Talk about your idea and listen carefully
It is a common misunderstanding that good ideas should be kept secret. A secret idea will suffer from a lack of input from potential customers and others who could contribute with important knowledge before launch. The important thing is to understand that it is extremely, and I repeat, extremely rare that someone steals an idea that has not yet proven business value. There are many ideas out there and the hardest part is to execute them to a stage that creates growth. So talk about your idea with everyone who wants to hear about it, ask for advice, and review the critical issues.
Use your network
As an older entrepreneur, you probably already have a large network of experienced professionals. Don't be shy. Reach out and ask for their help if necessary. Also, find relevant events online that you can attend to make new connections and at the same time talk about your new startup. I have discovered that most people love helping entrepreneurs, if only you dare to accept. There are many good articles on how to become skilled at networking if you are not comfortable at it yet - read them.
Consider setting up an advisory board consisting of talented people you can call when you need advice and tips. Even though you already have a lot of experience, you might need input from people with other competencies. You can also choose to gather your advisory board for joint meetings, but it is not necessary. Some entrepreneurs also benefit from a personal mentor, especially if they are starting up alone. Typically, if you were young, you would probably benefit from an older mentor with more experience and expertise than yourself. However, when you are already an experienced professional, age does not mean that much. It would probably make sense to choose a mentor with a certain expertise.
Use social media
You might be older, but I am sure that you have discovered the power of social media by now. If you don't know anything about it, I advise you to learn fast. You need to use social media in an intelligent and authentic way in relation to your product. It might also be a good idea to try to get publicity in editorial media; this is a reliable and inexpensive way to draw attention to your product and invention. Look especially for niche media within your target market.
Consider your risks
Older founders have worked and perhaps saved money for many years, and might have more to lose than younger entrepreneurs who usually have less, and thus less to loose. When you are older you probably also have more commitments e.g. housing and car payments, and perhaps children as well. So be cautious with your financial resources.
You can do it
Believe in yourself! Because if you don't, who else will?