The other day, a 94-year old woman turned into an overnight sensation as she became the oldest woman to become an entrepreneur in Mumbai, India. If that does not give you the motivation you need to get started, then nothing else will! When it comes to entrepreneurship, age does not matter as long as you have the passion and skill.
To become an entrepreneur at 50, you will first have to find the field you are passionate about. Then you can build a business plan, identify your target audience, brand your business, obtain legal licenses, communicate with experts, and finally market your brand as innovatively as possible.
This article will elaborate on why your age shouldn’t hold you back from becoming an entrepreneur and also give you executable actions that will help you along the way. We will also take a look at a few common mistakes new entrepreneurs make that you should be wary of. Let’s dive in!
Get Over Your Fears
Having the right attitude is the first and most crucial step towards becoming a successful entrepreneur. Apprehensions about age may have held you back initially, but now that you are here and reading this article, you need to know that becoming an entrepreneur at 50 (or 94) is something that requires pure passion and relentlessness no matter what your age is.
Having the right mindset can save you a lot of stress and worry in the long run, and can also prevent you from giving up on your dream the moment you fear your business is not going to be successful. Always remember that becoming an entrepreneur is not going to be a cakewalk, so perseverance and determination are going to play a big role at the beginning of your journey.
In addition to this, you can even use your age to your advantage rather than viewing it as a setback. Even though one’s age is not really a big hindrance when it comes to becoming an entrepreneur, there are still some advantages to being an entrepreneur who is over the age of 50. Let’s have a look at why below!
You Have Experience
If there’s one thing money can’t buy, it’s experience and the knowledge that comes with it. You’ve definitely faced your fair share of trials, and you know how to get back up after failing time and time again. This is one of the main reasons most businessmen who are older are way better at navigating their way through problems than those who are younger in the same field.
Use your knowledge from past experiences when making your most important decisions and avoid risks that you know aren’t worth taking!
You Have Gotten a Bigger Network
Over time, you’ve met a lot of different people and have moved with various personalities. So how is this helpful? It’s helpful because an entrepreneur needs to have great people skills to push his or her business. Understanding people helps you identify what they’d want and how they’d respond to a product.
Having met hundreds of different people by your age, you also know how to read different people and decipher their intentions. In the long run, you’re going to come across people who will either help your business or do their best to ruin you. So knowing who you can and can’t trust is definitely a skill you’d want to hold on to!
Find the Right Business for You
The first challenge you will have to face on your journey to becoming an entrepreneur is deciding what business you want to start, and whether or not it has a good scope in the current market.
For example, you probably always wanted to make and sell sweater vests for cats, but this isn’t going to be profitable if you live in an extremely hot area where cat sweater vests aren’t really a popular buy!
On the other hand, you aren’t going to be very happy in your business if you aren’t selling something you’re passionate about or excited about. It may make you money, but in the long run, you won’t find the job satisfaction you’re looking for.
Hence, it becomes important to find a business that’s not only going to make you a lot of money, but also something you’re going to be passionate about. Becoming a successful entrepreneur is a long and difficult process, so you want to make sure you’re investing your time and energy in something you really believe in and care about.
Make a Solid Business Plan
You may think that it’s nothing but a small startup, but having a solid and precise business plan can make your business profitable in the long run. A business plan helps you plan ahead and visualize the future of the business.
It also helps you understand the various factors that go into making a business successful, and lets you analyze different strategies you can employ to make sure your plan is fool-proof.
A business plan helps you lay out your objectives in black and white, and also helps you come up with different methods to tackle each field. Let’s have a brief look at what a proper business plan must encompass.
Summary of the Business
It is also known as the executive summary of a business and provides a short list of what the business represents and how it is beneficial to the target audience. A business summary includes general details about the company or business, such as the person/people in charge, the number of employees (if it’s a large business), and the next few years’ growth plans.
A business description gives the reader an idea about what your business represents and what kind of service or product it is trying to sell. It also encompasses the future plans of expansion and how it intends to stand out and be different from its other competitors in the same or similar fields.
How do you plan on promoting and selling your product? What innovative strategies are you going to introduce while marketing? These are some of the questions you will be answering in detail in this section. A business can flourish when it has a killer marketing strategy, so this is one of the most vital steps in the process of building a new startup.
The chances are that your business or product isn’t the first of its kind, so it’s good to have a good analysis of the market before you dive in. Competitive analysis helps you identify the target audience you should be focusing on, and also helps you gather ideas from other competitors in the same market.
It really gives you the chance to figure out what you must do to make your business stand out in the crowd and have a unique representation and identity.
Design and Development
This is where you’ll provide a clear and elaborate description of how the product you are selling is designed. You will also need to chart out the development of the product in terms of its production, cost, marketing strategies, and everything else that took place during the development of the product or service.
Management and Organization of the Business
In this section, you will have to describe the legal structure of the business. This includes categorizing the business as a C or an S corporation, and if there’s a partnership or a sole proprietor. To make things easier, you can make use of an organizational chart to list out who is in charge of what under different categories.
If you require additional funding at the beginning of your business, then you will need to state that here as well. You will also have to be very specific about how much funds you will need, for how many years, and what you intend to use that on.
Under this category, you will also state whether you would like debt or equity, other terms you’d like to apply, and the exact length and time the funding is supposed to cover.
Having a solid business plan will help you visualize where you’re headed and help you notice and rectify any flaws in the plan before you’ve begun.
Be Prepared Financially
Having a financial plan is one of the most important steps when starting a business on your own. Additionally, if you’ve crossed the age of 50, you’re probably nearing retirement soon. Being in debt when you’re young can be manageable, but getting into debt when you’re nearing retirement is something you’ll want to think twice about.
If you plan on taking a loan or borrowing money to start your business with, make sure you have a financial safety net to cover you in case things go haywire. As much as you’d want to focus on the bright side, always leave tonnes of room for error when it comes to starting a business.
During this stage, it is also wise to take a step back and think about the risk factors involved in the business. Are you certain your business is going to make the desired profit within the given time frame? This is an important question, as you don’t want to invest thousands of dollars into a business only to realize later on that there isn’t much scope in the particular field.
Another mistake many entrepreneurs do is to place all their eggs in one basket. No matter how psyched you are about living out your lifelong dream of starting a business, don’t ever quit your regular job until you’re absolutely sure of financial security.
Assessing your finances before you take any big step towards your business will also open new funding opportunities that you may not have considered before. For example, several loan programs are offered for small business startups by the Small Business Administration that is worth looking into.
Make an Executable Action Plan
Creating an action plan enables you to turn this huge business project into small, executable actions. These can then be further broken down and categorized until you have a list of tasks you need to take care of once you actually start your business. Here’s a list of everything you need to cover in a business action plan:
- Define the end goal of the business and how soon you want to achieve it.
- Set milestones.
- Identify the resources that you will need to begin your business.
- List out the various tasks you will have to do before your business can take off. This list should include the financial, legal, and marketing aspects of the business.
- Prioritize some tasks over the others.
- Set deadlines.
- Monitor the plan, evaluate it, and update it every time you feel you could do something better.
An action plan isn’t as professional as a business plan, but it helps you pay attention to all the nuances of a business. Many entrepreneurs might neglect or pay less attention to their legal or marketing tasks, leading to eventual problems and hurdles in the business. Having a detailed action plan can avoid minor and major problems due to oversight.
Identify the Target Audience
You can’t be a successful entrepreneur if you don’t know what your target audience wants or needs. Having a target audience and market helps you narrow down who you’re trying to sell your product or service to and allows you to customize your products and advertising to appeal to them.
Let’s have a look at the various steps you can make use of while identifying your target audience.
Create a Customer Profile
Your target audience is going to be a specific set of people who share certain beliefs, likes, and characteristics, which is why they are the potential customers you should be trying to impress. Thus, you can make a detailed description of your target demographic to help you understand their needs better.
Here are some factors you can consider while making a customer profile:
- Income level
With just these four simple details, you will be able to customize your products to be what your target audience will exactly want and need.
Market research helps you discover more about your target audience. Apart from knowing their basic details, you can also learn more about their preferences, likes, and dislikes, which will be beneficial while you market and promote your product. So how exactly do you conduct market research?
- Surveys: You can distribute surveys to potential customers via email or other web-based services.
- Focus Groups: After you’ve discovered a set of people who fall into your customer profile, get feedback from them through Q&A sessions and feedback forms. This will help you get useful feedback that you can later implement in your business. You will also get to know if your company is lacking in any way. Whenever possible, try to get people to give you positive criticism, which helps a company become better.
Reassess Your Strategies
Once you have a customer profile and have conducted extensive market research, it is time to reassess your company and modify it to suit the target audiences’ needs better. Some of the modifications that can be made include:
- New and improved features to attract more customers.
- Removal of things that are not beneficial in attracting customers.
- Re-evaluating the media you use for marketing and publicity, and modifying it to suit the new needs of the audience.
- Reassessing the text and messages of your products and services.
Brand Your Business
An effective brand strategy can give you a cutting edge with other competitive entrepreneurial brands in the market. Think of a brand as a lens through which customers are going to see your business for as long as it exists. Having a classy brand can do wonders for your marketing strategy, so this is something you’ll want to pay a lot of attention to.
Inventing a brand that’s compatible with your business and its description is vital. Here’s a list of the different types of brands, from which you can decide on one that suits your product or service best:
- Attitude brands: This type is usually used to promote ‘feelings’ rather than physical attributes. A few common examples are deodorants and sportswear brands.
- Symbolic brands: Like attitude brands, symbolic brands attempt to appeal to the emotions of the customer differently, like how banks and insurance companies try to depict safety and security.
- Functional brands: These brands appeal to the physicality of a product, rather than concepts and emotions. It strategically convinces customers as to why the product or service is more functional or unique than that of its competitors.
- Own brands: These are brands that usually carry the retailer’s name, and are also referred to as private labels or store brands. They are commonly used by small business owners or large supermarket chains.
Based on one of these types, you can frame your brand depending on what service or product you’re offering.
Be Aware of the Legal Requirements
Even if your business is just a small startup, you will still have to take care of the legal side of things to avoid future complications. Here is a list of all the usual documents any entrepreneur or businessman must possess.
What Business Structure Are You Using?
A business structure is determined based on the kind of business you wish to build. Each structure has a different tax structure, so be sure to choose one that’s right for your business. Here’s a list of the most common structures used by entrepreneurs:
- Sole Proprietorship: This organization gives the owner complete managerial control. So if you’re running the business on your own, this would be the structure you’d typically opt for.
- Limited Partnership: Under this structure, two or more people will agree to share the profits and losses of the business.
- Limited Liability Company(LLC): This structure offers a hybrid form of partnership, and allows owners to have the advantages of both the corporation and partnership business structures. Additionally, owners are shielded from personal liability, unlike sole proprietorship.
- S-corporation: Small business owners often go with this structure as it offers tax advantages and also has liability protection and ownership flexibility. However, it does have its own disadvantages.
- C-corporation: This is another structure that entrepreneurs go for, as it provides many entrepreneurial benefits. However, some people stay away from this structure as there is a possibility of double taxation.
The list above is only a gist of what each structure provides and how it may be beneficial to an entrepreneur. Do remember that every structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, so be sure to do a lot of research on your business and what kind of structure and organization would benefit it before you make a decision.
Your Trademark Name
One common legal mistake many entrepreneurs commit is not doing proper research on the name of the company. Before you decide on an official name, be sure to conduct extensive research online to prevent copying another business’s name.
Copying another company’s trademark can result in trademark opposition action, so this is something you don’t want to get wrong.
Also, do remember to come up with a name that will be unique and not generic. This is the name your brand will be identified with, so you’d definitely want it to sound captivating.
Once you’ve come up with a new and unique name, consider registering your trading name and logo (if you have one) as a trademark. This will prevent others from using the same name in the future.
Obtain the Required Licences
However, if your business has to do with food or other consumables, you may have to obtain a permit from the local governing body. Additionally, if your business comes under entertainment, there are specific licenses you will have to get for that as well.
Non-disclosure agreements are used to protect your business and company. Before entering into contracts or agreements with suppliers or partners, make sure you have the right confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.
Form a Strong Network
The success of an entrepreneurial business strongly depends on how big your network is. Connect with all the people in the same and relevant fields, and learn how they grow their business and keep their customers loyal.
Getting advice from people who have been in the field for ages can be beneficial at the beginning of a business, and can also save you the trouble of having to figure out everything by yourself.
In addition to this, make sure you connect with like-minded individuals and other entrepreneurs through Linkedin. This will also ensure your product gets a larger audience and lots of promotions.
Talk With Experts
Apart from learning from your competitors, you can also get advice from experts who have helped hundreds of people like yourself get their businesses up and running. You can also consult with business coaches or mentors. They may even know of specific strategies that people over the age of 50 can make use of while stepping into the business arena for the first time!
Market, Market, Market!
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how efficiently you’re able to market your product to your target audience. Having a great product but not having the right marketing strategies can ruin a startup business. This is why it’s essential to make sure you get this step right.
Additionally, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to enroll yourself for a couple of online marketing courses if you’ve got no experience in this field. By doing so, you’ll be able to keep up with the latest trends in marketing and can implement them right from the start!
In addition to this, make sure you use social media for marketing your brand as much as you can. If you find it hard to run multiple social media pages for your brand, or simply can’t figure out how any of it works, consider hiring a social media marketer who will be able to market your brand online to a large target audience.
When all is said and done, remember that being an entrepreneur solely depends on your mindset and attitude. With the right strategies in place, you will be able to get your business up and running in no time. The journey may be hard and tedious, so be sure to get as much advice as you can from people who have walked the same road before.
We hope this article answers all your doubts and questions! Good luck!
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