What We Can Learn From Seniorpreneurs
As someone who worked in manufacturing for decades and thought he’d be able to retire in a few short years, my dad’s journey is like that of many others. After his shop closed operations locally, my dad jumped into career change head-first. Now in his mid-fifties, he’s in the midst of a total career overhaul that has involved professional networking for the first time, going to school, and learning how to manage people. The same is true of the Career Girl that inspires me—my step mom. She went back to school while caring for three kids alone after a tough divorce, became an RN, and is going for a Bachelor’s in her fifties. They have both told me to pursue my career goals sooner rather than later, but they are not afraid of starting something new at a time when people traditionally start thinking about winding down their careers. Unlike previous generations, there is a whole new breed of entrepreneurs and they’re not the spring chickens you might imagine.
PBS has a great article about tips for a group they call “Seniorpreneurs,” a catchy new term for seniors starting a business. Baby Boomer business owners have been a popular topic lately, and several sources point to seniors as one of the fastest growing demographics for entrepreneurship. It makes sense: seniors often have decades of phenomenal work experience, a fair amount of free time, no young children, and broad networks to help support them. It’s a recipe for startup success, and we can all learn from their experiences.
The PBS list certainly applies to younger Career Girls as well, and a few of the tips stand out as advice that should be taken to heart by everyone.
You Are Never Too Old to Start a Business. Remember the story about the 89-year-old grandma who used Kickstarter to get her cane-decorating business off the ground? It was a great story because it proved this point, but I know Career Girls in their thirties who think they’re too old to start a new career or new endeavor. That’s craziness, and if you don’t do it now, you’ll regret it later when you look back and realize you could have done something you enjoyed.
Build a Community of Positive Influences. Studies show that happy people are happy because they have hobbies and good friends. Having a support system of successful and uplifting people gives you a way to seek advice and brainstorm ideas with others while picking up on what you can do to improve yourself. If you don’t already have friends like this, find them! Join a women’s group, be open about your struggles and your successes, and make sure to uplift others and celebrate their victories as well. You’ll never have to face obstacles alone if you actively engage your network and be a helping hand or a hug for others.
Go Back to Class. Many of us Career Girls already have a degree or education, but I think this speaks to everyone. No matter what the topic, I bet you can find a way to be a student of someone who can teach you more. Whether it’s hopping on the internet to find a community event with tips for fundraising, or going to a home improvement store to figure out how to put up drywall, never stop learning. Never!
An Internet Presence is a Must. I would say that most Career Girls don’t have a problem with this because we tend to be internet savvy and well-connected enough to have an internet presence, but that’s not always true. It’s surprising how many business owners haven’t really thought about their personal brand. Promoting your business is great, but you can be the face of your business and bring that gorgeous face of yours out into the community! Represent yourself and your business by recognizing that you need to have a personal brand, and then put it on the internet. Don’t worry—you don’t need to have every social media account ever, and you don’t have to friend the entire world on Facebook. You should have an “about” section on your business site with a pic of you and a little of your background, a LinkedIn page, and a professional Facebook or Twitter if you choose. Don’t know what to say in your “About Me” copy? Ask a friend for help. Outside perspectives are helpful.
The entire PBS article has valuable tips for entrepreneurs, and I encourage everyone to check it out. I’ll be keeping an eye seniorpreneurs and how the small business landscape changes as more mature business owners enter the small business sphere. I think the diverse backgrounds and varying levels of experience are going to add to the power and position of small business in the US economy.