Unemployment is never easy and I would suggest even more traumatic for those over 50. Older workers who do lose a job spend longer periods out of work, and if they do find another job, it tends to pay less than the one they left. This is at a time when many were planning to increase their savings in order to fund planned retirements. So not only are they dealing with a derailed career, but in many cases find themselves significantly underfunded for retirement. Throw in frequently mentioned cases of ageism and you get the picture…it can be an altogether depressing experience.
This is not to suggest that there are not lots of success stories or that there are not strategies that can definitely increase your chances of landing. Everyone’s journey is different, but suffice to say there are many in this space who find themselves in very difficult circumstances. And it is not just the unemployed who are struggling.
- in a job or working for a boss they don’t like
- working but finding themselves in transition as often as they are working
- working with the ever present threat of layoffs or downsizing
- working but still facing unfunded retirements
So what is the alternative if you find yourself in one or more of these circumstances?
Let me start by telling a little of my story. My 30+ year corporate career was spent as a sales executive in the consumer products industry. With the exception of a couple of brief stints in transition during the great recession all was well until early 2012 where at 52, I dealt with my first experience of long term unemployment (14 months). In 2015, I faced the stark reality that I was now in transition as often as I was working. I was looking at an underfunded retirement combined with very little chance of finding ongoing employment in my chosen field.
Staying on this course was at minimum a recipe for extreme unhappiness, This stark reality jump-started my journey to an alternative path. This time last year, less than six months after leaving my last consumer products job, I launched my own coaching company, Your Future Reimagined (YFR) Coaching. It should be noted that I am a first time entrepreneur and it was only a career in crisis that led me to even consider this path. Yet one year in, I can honestly say it has been the most amazing year of my business career and my only regret is that I didn’t take this road much sooner.
I found that every single successful person I’ve ever spoken to had a turning point and the turning point was where they made a clear, specific, unequivocal decision that they were not going to live like this anymore. Some people make that decision at 15 and some people make it at 50 and most never make it at all. – Brian Tracy
So now I am an evangelist for midlife start-ups and adamantly believe that this is an alternative that all at 50+ should explore. Now I know that if you ask many in the corporate world why they haven’t gone into business for themselves they can produce a list as long as their arm as to why it is not a viable alternative.
- risk of failure
- start-up costs
- no idea how to start
- not enough business skills
- don’t have the energy
You get the idea. Although I will grant you that entrepreneurial start-ups are not for everyone, I sincerely believe that you owe it to yourself to explore with an open mind to determine if it might be just the solution you have been looking for.
10 reasons why 50+ is a terrific time to start a business.
- There is no ageism when you are the boss. Both consumers and businesses buy from companies that provide a great service or product at a competitive price. Do that and your age will not be a limiting factor.
- You have 25+ years of experience and acquired skills. Maybe recruiters are telling you that your skills aren’t transferable to another industry. They are most definitely transferable to a potential start-up.
- Many successful start-ups are being launched for less than $10,000. With the advent of internet based businesses it has never been easier to launch many types of start-ups. I launched my international coaching business from my home office with a total year one investment of approximately $5,000. In fact many successful start-ups are being run out of Starbucks locations. Obviously if your start-up requires a bricks and mortar location and immediate staffing, initial costs will be higher, If funding is an issue explore less costly options. Another option is to launch your business while working part-time,
- You have 50+ years of wisdom and maturity on your side. You know what you are good at and passionate about. Just as importantly you know what you don’t like doing or have no skill for. A big part of entrepreneurial success is surrounding yourself with a support team (not necessarily employees) who can help you with the areas of your business you are not proficient at.
- Speaking of support, you have a lifetime of contacts that can be tapped into as part of your extended business network. A supportive network of friends, family, business contacts and fellow entrepreneurs is critical especially in the early days of your venture.
- In many cases the children have been successfully launched. Evenings no longer spent as a shuttle service to dance recitals and soccer games can now be focused on researching and ultimately launching your business.
- Many ventures can be funded with existing equity. Tapping in to home equity or retirement savings means you can focus your attention on scaling your business rather than courting your local banker or angel investors.
- The solution to an underfunded retirement. A successful start-up offers the potential for one or more streams of income well beyond traditional retirement age.
- The opportunity to gain back control of your life/future. I don’t know about you but I am much more comfortable betting on myself rather than continued employment as a 50+ job candidate.
- Becoming a Lifestyle Entrepreneur provides the flexibility required to accommodate other goals and dreams. Many 50+ entrepreneurs build businesses that provide the flexibility to accommodate several of the goals normally associated with retirement years. As I do my coaching via phone not only can I accommodate clients from other countries, I can also coach from other countries. This allows me to take extended vacations while still generating income. At some point if I decide to slow down either for a short or extended period my business has the flexibility to accommodate the slowdown.
Yes building a successful start-up is hard work and comes with the lots of uncertainty and the risk of failure. How different is that from the hard work, uncertainty and risk of failure involved in being a 50+ job hunter? How different would your life be if two years from now you were heading up your own successful business?
I only ask is that you consider the possibility. What have you got to lose? To increase your odds of success look at getting a coach/mentor and tap into a network of like minded entrepreneurs who are dealing with many of the challenges you will be facing. The right advice at the early stages of your venture can significantly increase your chances of success.
As President of Your Future Reimagined (YFR) Coaching, I help professionals/executives successfully transition to enriching and engaging Next Chapters. Please contact me to book one-on-one coaching, workshops and keynote speaking engagements.