Whatever your age, to stay on top of things in a fast-changing world, you have to learn new skills. For an increasing number of individuals, figuring out how to become an entrepreneur later in life is one of them.
More and more mature employees are realizing that to move on from where they are, they need to cast off the burden of employment and reinvent themselves as "silver entrepreneurs" with businesses of their own.
Much of the recent rise in self-employment in the United Kingdom from 2008 to 2013 (some 84 percent) can be attributed to those 50 and older, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation reported in 2009 that in the decade prior, entrepreneurial activity in the United States "the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to the 55-64 age group."
Entrepreneurship is not just a young person’s game. And far from being a sign of midlife crisis, leaving behind the apparent safety of employment when you’re 50 makes perfect sense.
The following eight points are worth considering and might change your outlook as you ponder a possible move from older employee to "silverpreneur."
1. Having a job no longer offers security.
Being in a job doesn’t make you secure. That’s the hard truth that many have had to confront in the years since the recent financial crisis. And just because the economy is recovering well, doesn’t mean the same crisis could not happen happen.
Recent world events show how quickly things can change, often with unknown consequences. Which is why more and more companies are looking to build flexibility into their business by taking on fewer permanent staff and looking to ensure they can shed jobs easily should the worst happen.
2. Your current job is disappearing.
Even if you are not being pushed out of your job right now, you won’t find it as easy to find a similar post, at a similar level, as you once might have. That’s because the role you currently perform is increasingly being replaced by new and different roles, or will be given to younger newcomers willing to work hard for less.
3. Technology innovations are arriving faster.
There was a time when robots were thought of as science fiction. Today, robots (or at least sophisticated software programs) are performing tasks that used to be done by highly trained and skilled professionals.
4. Knowledge and experience are an advantage.
Soon, as many as four generations will be working together, meaning that your career ladder could be cut off prematurely by younger techno-savvy employees who might even become your boss.
But your wealth of experience need not go to waste if you choose to start up your own business. Other Kauffman Foundation research found that many founders of successful companies didn’t set them up until they 40 or older. So see your age and the experience you have accumulated -- from wherever it comes -- as an advantage.
5. Setting up a business is easier.
It’s easier than ever these days to set up a business, given the low cost of technology. You no longer have to set up a bricks-and-mortar business with expensive premises or lots of stock to pay for. You can now succeed with an online business with just a good idea and a small budget to spend on IT equipment and software.
Lower startup costs mean less risk, so it should be easier to convince others that becoming a silverpreneur isn’t madness. And the best time to get going is while you still have a job.
6. Raising capital is possible.
If you need funding, you may well have some financial reserves to draw on or be in a strong position to borrow, as you have a financial track record.
And with several crowd-funding platforms to chose from, you can raise money even more quickly and easily. You just need a compelling pitch for others to believe in your idea and help you succeed.
7. A comfortable retirement is often just a dream.
Retirement is now an outdated concept that you need to revise. It’s not just a case that the retirement age is continuing to creep up or that many are need to keep working to maintain a lifestyle. The fact is, you should be looking to make a contribution in some form throughout your life so as to make you feel younger for longer.
It just doesn’t make sense to throw away all your knowledge and experience just because of a particular date on the calendar. With life spans increasing, you could easily change your career when you're 50 or 60 or embark on an exciting entrepreneurial venture for the next 20 to 30 years.
So why be stuck in a dull retirement when you could take control of your life and do something interesting, rewarding and fulfilling while contributing to society at the same time?
8. Life is about continuous learning.
One way to improve quality of life as people live longer by keeping thier brains active through continuous learning. The day you stop learning is the day you start becoming old, independently of your biological age.
There will be those who tell you that entrepreneurs are born and not made. When it comes to serial superstars like Richard Branson, that may be true, but there are more than enough examples of mature professionals who successfully set out on their own in later years. Look at Ray Kroc who set up McDonald's at age 52.
So, if you want to be a silverpreneur, what should you do?
Simply change your mindset. You’re probably thinking you’re too set in your ways and that you can’t possibly do something so radical. I’m here to tell you that you can -- if you want. Life is shaped by the decisions you make.
So stop labeling yourself according to your age or what you’ve done for a career to date. By seeing yourself as a manager, accountant or marketer, you’re subconsciously telling yourself that’s what you are and this stops your reinvention.
If you need business training or guidance (and you almost certainly will if you’ve only ever been an employee), find the right courses and programs that will give you the needed skills. Better still, find a mentor, someone with business experience to provide feedback about what you’re doing or intending to do. You’ll learn faster and avoid costly mistakes.
And with economies around the world still so uncertain becoming a "silverpreneur" is the best retirement plan because only then will you be in control of your life and your future.