It may seem like starting a new venture in your 40’s, 50’s, or even 60’s is a bad idea. In fact, your timing couldn’t be better. Midlife is the perfect time to become an entrepreneur.
5 Reasons Midlife is a Great Time to Become an Entrepreneur
1. Your Kids Are Older
First, if you have kids, they’re probably teens by now or even young adults. They don’t need your constant attention the way younger children do.
I’m in the process of starting a financial coaching business, and I’m so thankful that my kids, now 17 and 21, are the ages they are. For the past 18 years I ran a preschool (closed because of Covid), and I love young children. But now I can focus on my new business instead of caring for my kids all day.
We only have so much energy. Caring for young children takes a lot of it – emotional, mental, and physical. Sure, you worry about your teens and you want to spend quality time with them. But now that they’re older much of your energy is freed up.
You can focus it on starting your business.
2. Experience and Skills
Another reason midlife is such a great time to become an entrepreneur is that you now have a lot of experience under your belt.
You’ve had the jobs you hate and the jobs you love. You know what kind of work culture you want to create for yourself, and possibly for a team eventually.
And you have skills. You know how to encourage, support, and persuade people (being a parent has taught you this, if your work experience hasn’t)! You know how to manage your time and to work productively.
And you have hard skills. What have you learned in your work life that you can apply to your new venture?
Did you work with numbers? Do you know how to do bookkeeping or accounting? Were you a teacher, who had to remain highly organized in order to help her students succeed? Did you work in tech or social media management? Maybe you know how to build a website or edit videos or market on social media.
The experience and skills you already have give you an advantage as you start something new.
3. You Know You Can Learn
You also know at this point in life that you can learn anything you set your mind to learning.
So if you don’t have the skills you need to get started, you can master them.
Earlier in life, you may have lacked confidence in your ability to handle new challenges unless you were 100% prepared. This is especially true for women.
A study several years ago of personnel records at Hewlett Packard found that women applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements.
It would be interesting to see that study broken down by age. As we get older, we see what we have produced and accomplished. Our past successes push us into greater confidence.
At midlife, we know that we don’t have to be 100% prepared to start something new. Life has shown us that we’re not actually 100% prepared for anything – but we have the ability to meet new challenges.
We can master what we need to in order to become successful entrepreneurs.
4. People Take You More Seriously
The respect that comes with age offers another great reason to become an entrepreneur at midlife.
A 30 year old woman in a Facebook group I belong to recently posted about the difficulties she faced professionally because she looks so young. People tend to dismiss her instead of taking her seriously.
At midlife, we don’t have that problem.
Yes, it’s true that older men are seen as “distinguished” while older women tend to fade into invisibility.
But when we show up as the seasoned professionals we are, and we own our experience and expertise, people will notice.
Especially when our ideal client is female.
5. It’s Now or Never
At midlife, we realize our time on earth is finite.
What better reason exists for starting the business of your dreams – right now?
We didn’t used to think this way in our twenties and thirties. I didn’t, anyway. There was always the future – I can do that tomorrow, I can learn that tomorrow, I can start that tomorrow.
When you’re in your 50’s or 60’s, tomorrow is today.
We realize that we don’t want to spend our precious, limited life energy working at a job that saps our souls. We want our lives to have meaning. We want to make a difference for other people.
It’s now or never.
Obstacles to Becoming an Entrepreneur at Midlife
So what’s in our way?
Sigh … so many obstacles, mostly of our own making.
Our Thoughts About the Limitations of Age
We think we’re too old, that no one will take us seriously.
This is a big one, and it stops many people from just getting started.
“It’s too late for me.”
I struggle with this. But I’ve been listening to Brooke Castillo of the Life Coach School podcast, and it’s been making a difference.
Castillo says that while we can’t always control our circumstances, we can control our thoughts, and therefore the emotions that result from our thoughts and the actions we take based on those emotions.
So the circumstance is age. We can’t change that. We are the age we are.
But our thoughts about our age are not fixed. I can think, “I’m too old. I’ll never be able to get something going.”
Or I can think a different thought: “Age doesn’t matter. If I do the work, take the actions, fail and get back up again, over and over, if I know that what I have to offer has value and can help people, I will succeed.”
These two thoughts create very different emotions. The first one makes me feel defeated and resigned before I even start. Nothing creative or productive ever grew out of resignation.
The second makes me feel hopeful, even powerful. Those emotions set me up in the morning with my action list. They make me willing to put myself out there. To try and then try again.
So examine the thoughts spinning through your head. Notice them, live with them for a while, even write them down. Then ask yourself, “What if I thought something different?”
Lack of Money
Another thing that may be in our way is finances.
If you focused on building wealth from the start, you may be in a good position to free yourself from the 9 to 5 and pay full attention to becoming an entrepreneur.
But what if you’re one of those people who just didn’t pay much attention to money, and now you feel stuck?
Maybe you don’t have enough for retirement or to tide you through as you start something new. Maybe you still have to put your kids through college, or you’re helping to support elderly parents. Or you’re paying down debt.
Perhaps you lost your job due to Covid and you’re terrified that you’ll blow through your savings and end up with nothing.
“I don’t have enough money to start a new business,” you think.
Take a deep breath. If you have to make immediate money, go do it. Get a job delivering groceries or apply to be a contact tracer.
But start something of your own anyway.
Get up an hour early every day to work on your project. Or devote an hour after dinner and three hours each day of the weekend.
The point is to take action every day. Start something. Keep going. Don’t quit, even when it’s hard. Eventually, you’ll feel unstuck.
If you offer a service of value to others, and you believe it, you will eventually make money.
What Others Think
The opinions of others present another obstacle to becoming an entrepreneur at midlife.
When your husband or sister or best friend discourages you, it hurts. They may think they’re helping you by suggesting that you’re too old for the entrepreneurial life. Or by urging you to take the traditional path of working at a job until you’re 65. They may question the service your business will provide.
Do it anyway.
Years ago, after adopting my daughter, I longed for a second child.
My best friend argued against it. “As a single parent,” she said, “you’ll have such a hard time juggling the logistics of parenting two kids.”
Another close friend, having grown up with a single mom, felt sure I’d be overwhelmed and made it clear he thought adopting again was a VERY bad idea.
Was it easy? Not always. Logistics were sometimes difficult, and I occasionally felt overwhelmed.
But parenting two daughters is, by far, the best thing I’ve ever done.
My friends were trying to help, as yours likely are (and if they’re not, it may be time for new friends).
Don’t listen. Instead, listen to your heart. And your own mind.
Just the other day, a friend said I had “cajones” for starting a new business at my age (60!). He meant it as a complement, but I heard the underlying message: “You’re too old.”
I laughed, both inside and out. “Just you wait and see,” I thought. Right now is the perfect time to start something new, even at my age, even during a pandemic.
For you, too!
Midlife is a great perfect time to become an entrepreneur. Go start. Right now …