As a generation approaches its late 40s and 50s, many are finding themselves face-to-face with the dilemma of retirement insecurity. This may be down to job dissatisfaction and a burning desire to sack the boss, but with no long-term plan to replace it. It may be the result of redundancy or forced early retirement. Short-term contracts and temporary jobs are ubiquitous in all sectors. As you’ll know if you’ve read any of my other articles on the rise of the Digital Economy, the world we live and work in is changing.
Whatever the reason, with another 15-20 years ahead before reaching “normal” retirement age, many are asking themselves if they’re ready, or financially able, to head for the sofa.
Without a big fat pension pot, a large windfall inheritance, or a lottery win, two decades of potential “joblessness” can be a daunting prospect, emotionally as well as financially. So what to do with all of this “spare” time?
This will depend largely on the individual – financial security (or lack of); family circumstances; hobbies to be pursued (travelling can be expensive if you’ve not much left in the piggy bank). With a spouse still in employment, and a steady wage coming in, the sofa may seem like the ideal destination. But for others for whom the idea of life in front of daytime TV seems like a life not worth living, other options should be investigated.
If you need to continue to make money, but don’t want to go back to your old life, then you’re looking at either a career change (do you really want to start over and go back to answering to a boss?), writing a best-seller, selling the grandchildren, or finding something you know and love and building a business around it. This is how you reinvent yourself as an entrepreneur.
So how easy is it to reinvent yourself as an Entrepreneur at 50?
There has been a definite rise over the last 10 years in what some people are calling the “Grey Entrepreneurs” or the “Silver Start-ups” (ugh!). According to a Guardian report in 2013 (citing the former Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME)), there were at that time 4.17 million self-employed workers in the UK, of which 42% (1.75 million) were over 50. About 1.4 million were between 50 and 64, and 375,000 were 65-plus.
As Jamie Dunn writes on Virgin.com, people over 50 have numerous advantages over the younger generation, when it comes to entrepreneurship. These include time availability, industry experience and knowledge, and an understanding of what it’s like to work for other people (good and bad experiences!). Years of working will have established a large network of contacts, who can be tapped into for future ventures. A certain level of financial freedom may also exist – years of putting away savings and perhaps being mortgage-free will leave more money to invest in a business opportunity, without having to rely on start-up funding or lengthy bank loan applications.
What if I don’t have much money to get started?
Even without a large start-up pot, there are plenty of opportunities to get going with a new business venture. From home crafts to property management, the opportunities are almost endless. Here is just a small cross-section:
- Put your years of expertise to good use and set yourself up as a Consultant, Mentor or Life Coach (this is where your existing network comes into its own)
- Provide freelance support services for busy entrepreneurs who’ve already made the transition – chances are they’ll need help and you could provide invaluable outsourced services, saving them time and money and building your own independent business in the process
- Turn your hobby into a business. If you have a musical or creative talent that you love, but you’ve not had time to develop it in the past, now could be the time to get something out of it
- If you like to write, why not apply your expertise and knowledge into helping people through Blogging. Build a strong following of people who trust and admire you for what you have to offer, and you can monetise all of those years of experience
- Build a business online and harness the power of the internet to create a true work-from-anywhere digital lifestyle (again, if you’ve read any of my previous blogs on the Digital Economy, you’ll already know what a huge opportunity this is!). This is the path my husband and I took, learning the vital skills we need to create our Digital Marketing platform (I’ve included a link below if you want to learn more about our training partners and mentors)
Whatever business idea you decide on, be happy with your choice – if you’re going to totally reinvent yourself as an Entrepreneur at 50 (or 50ish!), you need to be comfortable in your new skin.
Know what you want to do and make it something you love and can continue to love for the foreseeable future. In other words, don’t opt for pet-sitting if you can’t stand animals. Similarly, don’t decide to open a coffee shop because you liked watching “The Great British Bake Off“! If your heart’s not in it, it will fail.
Remember to be a problem solver. Offer people what they want, not what you think they want (or what you think will just make you lots of money).
And be positive. Look at this is an opportunity, rather than a risk. You’ve made the decision to join the “Grey Entrepreneurs”, now get reinventing!!