I can remember the day when I made the decision to leave the corporate world and become an entrepreneur like it was yesterday. I was fortunate in the sense that it was a well thought out, well timed decision I made by choice.
With a slowing economy and individuals who have decided they have had enough of climbing the corporate ladder, the shift to entrepreneurship will be significantly on the rise for men and women in their 50’s and 60’s.
The shift from the corporate world to entrepreneurship and startups can be life-changing, even if you’re staying in the same industry. New ventures are inherently experimental, and that requires not only a new approach to doing business, but also a different set of skills. The good news is that those skills can evolve out of your corporate knowledge and experience, helping you manage both the uncertainties and the opportunities that come with being an entrepreneur.
Here are five insights for you to consider when moving from the corporate world to Entrepreneurship at 50 or 60.
Embrace the Change
It’s important to understand that the transition is not simply one in which you assume more responsibilities and start giving orders to others. How you work, why you work, and when you work also changes. You may encounter the same resistance that you yourself showed when receiving orders from managers that you questioned or doubted. With the increase in power comes new responsibilities, and many challenges. But if being an entrepreneur is something that you not only think will work for you, but actually look forward to, you’re halfway there already.
Learn As You Go
Apart from business school, there are certain non-academic programs which promise to teach you how to become an entrepreneur. But if we look at successful entrepreneurs, many of them did not actually study business. Instead, they pursued their passions, turning something they believed in into a business and overcoming the many challenges they faced to help it grow. I like to tell people that I went to the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ as I definitely had a steep learning curve to grow my many businesses.
Whether you’re 50 or 30, moving to entrepreneurship can be daunting, but thinking you don’t have the right education should never stop you, for the simple reason that there is no “right education”.
Find the Time
It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to be the hardest working people in their organization, putting in long hours every day, and keeping their schedules flexible. With the right time management skills and an abiding schedule, you can draw a firm line between work time and personal/family time. You cannot however expect entrepreneurship to cost you less time than your corporate job, at least not in the first few years.
One of the advantages of being an entrepreneur at 50 then becomes obvious — by this time you have already a strong foundation to support your endeavors, whether it’s in the form of a family, financial security, or a strong, time-proven set of ethics and principles. You can draw on these to use the time that you have in the most effective way possible.
Another note on the subject of Find the Time. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your new venture getting it off the ground and even once it’s established to keep working on it every waking moment. I was guilty of this to the extent that on the night of one of our wedding anniversary’s my husband said “how wonderful it was to share another year of married life together, but do you think you can find a bit more time for me and less time on the business?” Yikes! That was an eye opener. Remember to find time for your immediate family and friends.
Take Measured Risks
The risks in the corporate world are limited, in that usually, the worst that can happen is for you to lose your job. As an entrepreneur the risks are more pronounced because you are responsible for yourself and your employees as well. Apart from financial risks, there are also social and time-related risks. You cannot let risks prevent you from becoming an entrepreneur, though. Your risks have to be calculated – for every risk, the “upside” has to be considerably larger than the downside.
Launch Your Startup at the Right Time
Research consistently shows that as many as 42% of startups are successful simply because they were launched at the right time. If you feel that this is the right time for your startup, and have numbers to back you up, don’t think twice. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 50, 60, or older.
It may sound like a very optimistic thing to say, but today, with the technology available, that transition is easier than it has ever been. In my view, it’s the absolute best time to be an entrepreneur. You can automate, outsource, and optimize processes so that you can spend more time understanding your market, making decisions, and planning your moves.
Fifty is as good a time as any to move from the corporate world to entrepreneurship. The numbers prove it: the highest rate of entrepreneurship in America has shifted to the 55-64 age group. Be flexible, be determined, and be ready to develop new skills, and the move can be one of the best decisions in your life. Go for it!