Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club! I hope you enjoyed last week’s article about College vs Vocational Education. Hopefully, you know a young person who could benefit from it. This week, I wanted to tackle a topic you may (or may not) have been thinking about. Becoming an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner (SBO).
I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have two dimes to rub together and you want me to think about starting a business?” Well, yes. I want you to think about it. There are many successful businesses that have been started by folks in our age group. Many of these people were laid off from their main source of income. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s probably not the best set of circumstances to start a business. However, necessity is the mother of invention.
There are two schools of thought. Use your years of experience at your old job and strike out on your own as an Independent Contractor. Or, take stock of your resources and try to make a business out of your biggest hobby or passion. An article on CNBC’s website states that many laid-off people chose to start a business simply because their re-employment chances are so abysmal.
I have to be honest. I am a failed Entrepreneur. Many of the businesses I started over the years failed. Mainly because I didn’t have the time or money to give the business an honest shot. I have tried everything from government auctions to partnering with travel agencies, to building mobile websites, just to mention a few. Some of them could have made it if I had more time to spend on them. I think that’s the reason many businesses started by the over-50 crowd succeed. Especially if they have been laid off. They have the time necessary to build their new business.
As you probably know, the majority of new businesses in this country fail. Motley Fool states that 4 out of 5 new businesses fail in the first year. Not great odds, but looking at it from the other side of the equation, that means that 20% of new businesses make it through the first year. The businesses that do succeed seem to have one element in common: PASSION. You have to be passionate about whatever you decide to turn into a business, or it is more than likely doomed to fail. Also, it takes the time and money that I mentioned earlier, but passion can take you a long way.
In this article, I am going to give you examples of folks just like us, who started their dream business after 50 and are doing very well. These people have truly taken lemons and made lemonade, or coffee, or bagels, or wine. Whatever their passion may be.
One way to start a business is to turn your hobby into a business. Say, you’re a stamp collector with some degree of knowledge in that area. You could start a website offering up some of your more valuable stamps for sale. If your website catches on, you could make money by putting up other collectors’ stamps for sale on your website. That’s just off the top of my head. If you choose to do this business, don’t forget your inspiration! I accept tens and twenties.
What really can get you sick is when you read a story about some guy who is pulling down six figures in the corporate world. Then he GETS BORED. He starts up a company based on his lifelong hobby of butterfly collecting, or some such thing. The company is a huge hit, and inside of a year, he’s a millionaire. Meanwhile, we are having a hard time making ends meet, let alone starting up a company based on our interests. We don’t have the luxury of “Getting Bored”.
However, it might be easier than you’d think. In this day and age, the Internet has become a worldwide marketplace. Just look at Amazon and eBay. There are people from all over the world selling products on those websites! The only problem with that sort of business is that the competition is very stiff. Your company might be so far down the product list only a dedicated bargain-hunter might stumble across it by accident!
I guess to me what it all comes down to is this. Do you go big, or go home? Unfortunately, most folks in our situation, we don’t have a load of cash sitting around, just waiting for an investment in a fledgling business. You may need to find other sources of startup cash. But remember, whether your business succeeds or fails, you still owe that money! For that reason, I would stay away from Ricco the Loan Shark.
I found an article on Arkenea. It features a list of people who started their own businesses after the age of 50. This includes one female bodybuilder, who started her business at 56 and is now 78! Good Lord! One guy started a bakery without any baking skills! Maybe he was good at eating donuts? Yet another guy started a coffee company with his wife, in Hawaii no less! Also, many of the people in this article have started up an online business. I have to admit, looking at some of them, I wouldn’t think they could turn on a PC, let alone have a successful online business!
The point is if THEY made it YOU can too! At least that’s what I keep telling myself! I found that article very inspiring. It shows that, regardless of your age, with the right amount of timing, money, and luck, you can still build a successful business in America. If not, there’s always the Lottery. That reminds me, the Powerball is up to almost $460 Million. Got to buy a ticket today!
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