Bottom Line/Personal: Nancy, should a person ever start a business after age 50?

Nancy Collamer: It’s a great question, and the answer is many people over 50 are starting businesses. In fact, the largest percentage of new entrepreneurs is actually people ages 55 to 64.

Bottom Line: Not surprising, given the economy and the amount of people out of work.

Collamer: Exactly. The reality is these days, a lot of people are retiring, and they don’t just have years in retirement; they have decades in retirement. So they’re looking for ways to both fill the time and also earn some income. So you’re absolutely right, it’s not surprising.

Bottom Line: What are the key things they need to think about if they are 50? Because obviously the financial horizon is much shorter.

Collamer: Sure, sure. And to that point, I’d say the first thing is obviously you do need to take a look at your finances because some people have grandiose dreams. They think about starting a business and, of course, starting a business can be financially risky. You are not going to have the amount of time that a younger person will have to recoup if things don’t go well. So the first thing is to look at their finances.

The second thing is to really put your expertise to work and think about where are the gaps and the opportunities in the marketplace that you might be able to fill. I think the benefit of being someone who’s older and thinking about starting a business is oftentimes you have a lot of insights and experiences that can help you create a product or service that’s going to be very much in demand.

And the third thing I would say is when you’re thinking about starting a business; realize that’s a very different proposition than going to a regular job every day. Suddenly you are going to be chief cook and bottle washer, and so you’re the person who’s not only going to be responsible for doing the work, but also you’re going to have to be emptying the garbage can at the end of the day and doing your own social media and your own marketing and bookkeeping. Of course, you can hire it out, but in the beginning, that may not be financially possible.

Recognize the fact that you may be great at what you do, but being an entrepreneur is a business in and of itself, and you really need to learn some of those skills.

 Bottom Line: That’s great. So a bunch of considerations. The good news is, if you’re 50 or more, you’ve got some great skills to bring to a marketplace, but on the other hand, be prepared for the major shift in what life is going to be.

Collamer: Absolutely, yeah.

Bottom Line: All right. Thank you, Nancy Collamer.


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