Colonel Harland David Sanders established Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) when he was in his 60s while Ray Kroc started McDonalds when he was in his 50s. Today, both KFC and McDonalds are two of the world's leading fast food companies.
Their founders? Both were advanced in years -- Sanders was even a "senior citizen." But that didn't stop them.
So, the message here is that, like Sanders and Kroc, you are not too old to start.
This notion was exactly what prompted Kevin Xu and his wife Leah Yang to establish the Brighten Award for Entrepreneurial Gerontology at the University of Southern California-Davis School of Gerontology: to encourage young entrepreneurs to incorporate entrepreneurial opportunities for the elderly.
When I came across some of his interviews, I saw that Xu doesn't just have a keen eye for potential in entrepreneurship, he sees potential in an unexpected source: seniors.
In fact, lots of senior citizens have business potential which they have allowed to go dormant because of excuses like:
“How can I start a business at this age? I’m too old to do that.”
“I can’t stand a chance against all those young entrepreneurs. They’ll push me out of the market in no time.”
Yet those are misconceptions. If you are a senior citizen, here are six reasons you should fire up your entrepreneurship spirit:
1. You have experience on your side.
Unlike young entrepreneurs, you have loads of life and business experience on your side. Many young entrepreneurs approach issues like business structure, finances and feasibility at a whim. They just wing it every time. Oftentimes, they make many business mistakes before they get it right.
As someone with experience on your side, you'll find that old age is a plus. You have already made mistakes that you will never repeat, and you are likely better able to foresee the obstacles and their solutions.
2. You likely have an established network.
In business, networking is extremely important. Your network is your potential client base for your business. That’s why going to meet-ups, conferences and events is strongly encouraged.
Over the years, you have made many friends from different walks of life: school, the office and social gatherings. All these people form a potential network of people you can get in contact with to build your standing as an entrepreneur.
Young entrepreneurs, in contrast, start off with only a small circle of contacts. Unlike you, they have to spend substantial time socializing at events to order to become known.
3. You likely have more capital to start with.
One of the greatest challenges entrepreneurs face is not having enough capital to start their business. Young entrepreneurs face a great strain in this area, as it is extremely difficult to raise money to invest in their business.
But you have a great advantage here. You have access to pension funds, savings and profit from other investments -- to start with.
Knowing that you have money to invest will give you the confidence to go all out in your business. When you join that with your "wealth" of experience, you'll be in a better position to grow a profitable business that will yield you a high return on investment.
4. A successful business runs on passion and persistence not just on youth.
You know what people like Colonel Harland Sanders and Ray Kroc had in common with other young entrepreneurs? They were passionate and persistent.
Being passionate about what you are doing and what you want to offer to the world is the drive you need to make sure that you succeed as an entrepreneur. Being young has little or nothing to do with being an entrepreneur.
5. You’ve got the skills that will help you grow your business.
Over the years you have been developing certain skills that helped you through problems that you were facing. You also developed skills that you used to help you grow in your 9-5. Unknown to you, these skills are something that you have perfected.
Unlike young entrepreneurs, you don’t need to spend as much time and energy to master basic skills that will help you as an entrepreneur. This gives you an edge over them. So instead of spending time learning those basic skills, you can focus your time and energy on making your business grow.
6. You’ve seen the lapses, and you have the solution.
You’ve seen it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. You have observed the problems people face on a daily basis and the lapses of other businesses. That is the foundation of every business, because where there’s a problem, there’s a potential business.
Your foresight about the problems prevalent in the world is an asset that you can leverage to run successful business. It gives you a head start in your entrepreneurship journey.
If you are capable of having an idea, you still have what it takes to work it out, so get to work!