Am I too old?
Does age matter in the entrepreneurial space? Can a woman be too old to participate?
Pat Duckworth is a midlife mentor, author and international public speaker. After over 30 years working in the public and voluntary sector at a senior management level, Pat discovered her entrepreneurial mojo in her mid-50s and retrained as a therapist and coach. Since then she has published three books including the award-winning, ‘Hot Women, Cool Solutions’.
Pat’s fourth book, ‘Hot Women Rock; How to discover your midlife entrepreneurial mojo’, was published in 2016 and became a #1 International Bestseller. Pat is a regular guest on radio shows in the UK, America and Canada. She has contributed articles to national newspapers and magazines including the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Natural Health. She has spoken at conferences in America, Holland, Cyprus and India as well as the UK. She is passionate about inspiring women to get the best from their lives, no matter what their age.
Can you be too old to become an entrepreneur?
Definitely not! Since the downturn in the economy in 2008 in the UK there has been a trend towards older people becoming entrepreneurs and also more older women becoming entrepreneurs.. Twenty per cent of people aged over 50 are self-employed, a higher proportion than for any other age group.Older entrepreneurs are more successful than younger entrepreneurs. Seventy per cent of businesses started by people in their 50s survive for at least five years. Only twenty-eight percent of those started by younger people last that long.There is a similar trend in the United States where twenty-three per cent of all new entrepreneurs are age 50-65. Interestingly, the average age of the founders of U.S. technology companies is 39, with twice as many over age 50 as under age 25.So, no matter what age you are, if you have a dream of being an entrepreneur, you can do it.
What are the challenges for midlife entrepreneurs?
One challenge of becoming a midlife entrepreneur is acquiring the new skills and capabilities you need to operate your business. Being an entrepreneur requires three sets of skills; managerial, technical and entrepreneurial.Sometimes acquiring these skills is a challenge because of a limit of time or money. The Internet has helped to provide unlimited learning opportunities at no cost and available whenever you have time to watch. There are also plenty of training courses at low cost through Udemy and similar online training sitesAnother major challenge, particularly if you haven’t been in business before, is the power of your beliefs. Beliefs are not real, they are just stories that we tell ourselves about our experience of life. There are two types of beliefs; enabling beliefs and limiting beliefs.Limiting beliefs are those thoughts that hold us back from leading fulfilled lives such as: ‘I’m no good with IT and social media’, ‘It’s too late for me to learn new skills’, and ‘If my business idea doesn’t succeed I will be a failure’.Negative beliefs are powerful blocks to action. Over thirty-five per cent of people say the fear of failure stops them from exploiting business opportunities.
How do you get over negative beliefs about what you can’t do?
The great news is that you can change negative beliefs. Beliefs come initially from our parents and teachers, and then from peers, society, media and religion. We always look for the evidence to support our beliefs. If we look for the evidence that the belief is not true we can generally find it but most of us don’t bother to confront our beliefs. We accept them as true.A good start to changing negative beliefs is to acknowledge that you have them. Make a list of your limiting beliefs in relation to becoming an entrepreneur. On the other side of the paper, write the opposite statement to the negative belief. Write it larger and bolder. Put your list up somewhere prominent and repeat your positive statements out loud every day, making it louder each time. Look for the evidence that the new positive belief is true.Do this process for 21 days and see what happens. Notice the positive changes.
What are the benefits of being a midlife entrepreneur?
People become entrepreneurs at midlife for a variety of reasons. For women, I think they get to that stage of life and want to do something that satisfies them more fully. Other women make the leap into entrepreneurship because of changes in their family situation, changes in their financial situation, dissatisfaction with work or to fulfil a dream.
Somebody said to me recently that entrepreneurs are the only people who give up a 40 hour a week job to do an 80 hour a week job! Becoming an entrepreneur may involve more hours of work, at least initially, but you decide what hours to work and when you work them. That flexibility and sense of control is a huge benefit.
For me, one of the major benefits is knowing that whatever I do it is for the benefit of my business. If I have an idea it is my choice whether to pursue it. No one else can tell me what to do and what not to do. I love that!
What are the special abilities of midlife entrepreneurs?
Midlife entrepreneurs have lots of superpowers. Firstly, they have years of knowledge and experience. This might come from the years you have already been at work or it might be from what you have learned from managing your household. I think women who spend their early years at home caring for their children underestimate the skills they have learned such as budgeting, project management, networking, negotiating and taxi driving.
Secondly, midlife entrepreneurs already have an established network of connections which is essential to getting their business message spread. Thirdly, many midlife entrepreneurs are in a stage of their life where they have established their home and their family and have created a level of financial security. They may also have established a good credit record which will help them to finance their new enterprise.
Finally, at this stage of life many women find their priorities changing. Once they are beyond child-bearing age their focus moves to the second half of their lives and what they want to achieve. This can be linked to a new sense of purpose. A clear sense of purpose is essential to a successful enterprise.
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