Lessons Learned as a 50+ Entrepreneur – Year One

By January 22, 2017YFR Blog

This month marks the first anniversary of the launch of my positive aging, coaching business: Your Future Reimagined (YFR) Coaching. It should be noted that for the first 56 years of my life I never imagined running my own business. In fact it was a confluence of circumstances that lead me to this amazing next chapter and what I now believe is my true calling.

In 2011 at age 52, I became a member of the (over 50) Canadian National Dragon Boat Team and participated in my first world championships that summer in Tampa, Florida. The opportunity to represent my country and hear our national anthem on the top tier of the podium is one of my all time highlights. It was only in retrospect however that I realized that a much more profound change was taking place. The realization that perhaps our best years don’t need to be behind us at fifty and beyond! In fact it has positively impacted my life from that point forward.

At the same time I was starting to struggle in my corporate career after 30+ years of success as a consumer products sales executive. For the first time in my career I was dealing with bouts of unemployment and the never pleasant task of finding work after age 50. I also found out that I was by no means alone. In fact some of the brightest, most qualified people I had ever met were also sitting on the sidelines with me.

It was this realization that my career was in need of reinvention combined with the knowledge that others in my space needed help as well, that ultimately lead to both my entrepreneurial journey and my business focus: helping others, too old to hire…too young to retire, to transition to successful next chapters. It was the confidence that my best years could well be ahead of me combined with the understanding that staying put wasn’t a great option, that gave me the courage necessary to change course.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Steve Jobs

So what lessons have I learned in year one of business that could benefit other aspiring entrepreneurs:
•Startup costs can be very reasonable. My first year costs, including cost of training, were under $10,000 and I know successful businesses that have started for much less. I made the the conscious decision to launch full-time and live off savings until the business monetized. This option is not available to all and that is why many launch their companies while still working full or part-time.
•It is definitely hard work, but in many ways it doesn’t feel like it. Doing something that I am absolutely passionate about has been a major game changer. I can honestly say that I truly enjoy almost every aspect of time invested in my business. The small percentage of things that I am not passionate about will ultimately be farmed out to others to do. The key is to start chasing your own vision and dreams.
•Scaling and monetizing your business almost always takes longer than you anticipate. Even though I have made significant progress and am very happy with the gains I have made in year one, I don’t anticipate reaching my target revenue until this time next year. The good news is that I did my research and this falls within the parameters of my business plan.
•The achievements are elating, even the small ones, but watch out for the down times. The highs, at least for me, have taken me to peaks that I had never reached in my corporate career. My caution is that perhaps because of these heights the downs can also be precipitous. In many cases the lows come as a result of the some of the anticipated achievements along the way falling through. The journey continues to be amazing, but I have learned to smooth out my emotional highs and lows.
•Learning the value of support from other entrepreneurs. Support from friends and family is important, but do not underestimate the importance of support from other entrepreneurs. I have been fortunate enough to involved with a number of mastermind groups made up of both fellow coaches as well as other 50+ entrepreneurs. The value includes everything from brainstorming solutions to problems, sharing best practices, to emotional support if you are going through a tough patch. As much as friends and family want to help some things are difficult to relate to if you are not an entrepreneur yourself.
•Amazing advice from the leaders in your space is out there, you just need to be prepared to reach out. I have received advice from some of the most successful coaches and consultants based all over the world. This support has helped me immensely in my journey. Obviously not everyone will be prepared to help, but in the spirit of paying it forward many will gladly take a call. My strategy is to reach out to successful coaches and consultants via LinkedIn with a brief introduction of my space in my invite to connect. If I am able to set up a call to chat I come prepared with specific questions and am always very respectful of peoples time. Just remember to be open to returning the favour to other aspiring entrepreneurs who reach out to you as you become more established.

Becoming a first time entrepreneur at 50+ is not for everyone, but I sincerely believe that it should be a consideration for anyone struggling in their career, frustrated with ageism in the workplace, underfunded for retirement or looking for a new challenge in their next chapter. You lose nothing by learning more. My only regret in my first year is that I didn’t start on this road sooner.

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.

mkennedy@yourfuturereimagined.com

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