Six tips for becoming a senior entrepreneur

Retirement is not a destination, it's another stage in life's journey—and that's never been truer than today, as many over-50s are rejecting the quiet life and starting their own businesses.

Do you want to do the same? Groups such as Elderberry, SeniorPreneurs Foundation, The Seniorpreneurs Network, National Seniors and OverSixty have sprung up to help you get started and connect with others on the same path.

“You have to find your purpose―what you’re here for, know yourself and follow that,” Elderberry’s Suzie Graham says. “Being involved, creating something new and giving back gives you fresh energy and purpose. No one should be defined by their age.”

That’s exactly what Suzie has done, leaving her previous role two years ago to go out on her own. She is passionate about helping people cope with change, especially keeping up with the digital age.

She is now involved in a number of projects, including being a board member of vibewire, a mentor at Elderberry, a co-founder and director of One Million Acts of Innovation Australia, a founding trustee of The Awesome Foundation Sydney and a change consultant to charitable foundations.

Not ready to retire to the armchair yet either? Here are some tips from Suzie for becoming an entrepreneur.

1. Do what you love

“Whatever you love doing, find a way to be involved in that, at whatever level,” she says. “If it interests you, it won’t feel like work, it will be your passion. If you follow that, you will reap the rewards financially, mentally and emotionally.”

2. Seek out a community of like-minded people

“Find people who share your interests, no matter what age they are,” she says.

“Bouncing ideas off people you trust and others with experience in areas you may not know well can lift your idea off the drawing board and into reality. Use places such as Hub Australia, a co-working community for small businesses”.

3. Start small and work up

Suzie has launched a number of ventures by taking small steps and testing along the way to see if the idea works.

“That way you can adjust your idea quickly as you learn what your market wants and if you fail, the cost is kept low and you can move quickly to the next project idea,” she explains. “You also shouldn’t risk everything on the one idea.”

4. Go digital and use social media

“It’s not just that everybody’s on the internet―the whole of your business is going to be run on a digital platform,” Suzie says.

“The online world offers a wonderful way to get your messages out and to find and work with everyone from suppliers to customers and colleagues. It’s also the only efficient way to keep track of what your customers are saying about you and the market you are in.

“The importance of this form of business and marketing communication can’t be understated for a start-up―it’s how you engage in online conversations to find out what customers are looking for and build your new community.”

5. Explore new funding sources

This means connecting with incubators, which help start-up companies by providing services such as management training or office space; sourcing investment funding from groups such as Pollenizer and even exploring crowd-sourcing―soliciting money from a large group of people, usually online.

6. Organise your finances

This is critical for anyone starting out in business, no matter what your age. Though it becomes even more important when your savings are on the line and your earning prospects are diminishing. There may also be tax implications that affect your government entitlements.

“People like Brendan Ryan at entitlemate are tackling this whole area,” Suzie says. “Brendan is working at consolidating all of the best financial information to make it easier for people to make decisions based on what their situation is.”

Whatever your situation, see a financial adviser for small business advice or to learn more about your retirement options.
 

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