Starting a business later in life? Here’s what you need to know

Small businesses account for almost 98 per cent of all businesses in Australia and employ 44 per cent of the country’s workforce. These enterprises also account for 35 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic profit-making small business a vital component in the nation’s economy.

If you are planning to start your own business, know that there are many challenges that you may face before it can take off and become profitable. From developing a business plan and identifying a product or service to securing finance and marketing and selling, striking out on your own requires some skills set that you would need to succeed.

Making a career change

Changing career at any point in your life may be exciting, but also filled with challenges. Although there is no one size fits all answer as to when is the best time to start a business, statistics indicate that the highest proportion of small business owners in Australia are 45-59 years old with women accounting for 35 per cent of all business owners according to the 2019 Small Business Counts report.

In the UK, the average age of an entrepreneur is 47 while 40 is the average age to start a business in the U.S. based on a Kauffmann Foundation report. The findings seem to validate that in your twenties, you are just starting out in your career and lack the experience to venture on your own. By the time you hit your thirties, you might be married and are raising kids which makes a career change difficult to do. However, when you reach your forties, you already have enough experience and probably more resources (money or savings, network, and contacts) to make it on your own. Hence, whether you are switching careers in later life or are planning to become an entrepreneur, greater experience and financial stability can help you succeed.

What you need to win

That is not to say that there will be no barriers to becoming an entrepreneur at a later stage in your life. The good news is older age is a better predictor of success according to the Founder Institute. Per reports, professional networks play an important role in the success of businesses. If you have no experience whatsoever in entrepreneurship, there are courses that you can take to provide basic business skills. Equally, surround yourself with knowledgeable individuals or get a mentor whom you can work within the long-term.

As a first-time entrepreneur, you might be too cautious in taking risks, thereby, missing a valuable opportunity. On the other hand, it is also not advisable to jump at every opportunity that might just limit your productivity and effectiveness. Hence, concentrate on your project and avoid multiple ventures. Your business idea must also be something that you want to do not just because you see huge profits and returns to your investment. Similarly, act like a startup, maintain a low overhead and manage your finances effectively.

Becoming an entrepreneur later in life is not an impossible task. It can even offer advantages such as experience, established professional contacts, and a starting capital through savings. Regardless of age, no education, coaching or plan can truly prepare you for success. Learning from your mistakes and failures can.

Chrissy MacArthur, Content Manager 

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