When I turned 57 years old I lost my job.
I didn’t see it coming.
I wasn’t prepared.
I knew I was in for a storm.
It felt like I hit a wall at 100mph.
You see, I was used to working for companies for long periods of time, but this last job only lasted 9 months. I was in the fashion industry as a brand president, and had worked successfully in the industry for over 35 years.
I was really good at what I did.
But I wasn’t naive.
I knew that people in the industry preferred much younger employees, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a job at my level. That is when I realized that it was time to start my own business.
I became a fashion business consultant and 9 years later I am still going strong.
Unfortunately, a lot of women over 50 experience this problem. Agism is a discrimination that people still feel justified in having. In fact, at one job interview the women doing the interview actually said she was looking for a young person for the job.
I had always wanted to run my own business, so when I was first let go I realized that it was time to start. That was my reason for starting a business in my 50’s. There are many women over 50 who would like to start their own companies — for all sorts of reasons. Even if it is just a small side gig to give them a few extra dollars a month.
“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” ― Marissa Mayer
Are you thinking of starting a business and are over 50?
While traditionally people thought it was a young persons game, studies have shown that entrepreneurs over 50-years-old are significantly more likely to succeed in their business ventures than those under 30.
Baby boomers (57 to 75 years old) account for nearly half of small business owners, compared with 7% for Millennials (ages 26 to 41), according to Guidant’s Financial 2022 Small Business Trends survey.
There are many benefits to starting a business later in life.
If you find the right business for you that is in a healthy industry, make a solid business plan, use all the resources out there to learn how to run your business well, and are willing to put in the work to be successful, you can reap the rewards of success.
“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” ―Sara Blakely
Some of the benefits of starting your own business include:
- Being your own boss – It is great not answering to someone and being able to run my business the way I want to. I control my own destiny. You can bring your own creative energies and make your business look exactly the way you want it to.
- Having a flexible schedule – I love the freedom of controlling my days. If I want to take a day off to spend with a friend or a few hours to go to lunch, I can. Being able to start my day and stop it when I want is a big deal. Sometimes just going out for a walk during the day and breathing fresh air is enough to make my day great. I no longer just wait for weekends to have fun.
- No one cares how old you are – As I said earlier, people did not want to hire me at my age but they love my experience as an independent business consultant.
- You can work wherever you want. – I myself like to work from home. Now I no longer commute 3 hours a day and I don’t have to dress up for work. You can also go traveling and work remote. Want to go live in Paris for a month? You can do that with a computer and phone.
- You can earn more money as a business owner or even just supplement your retirement income. You can also build something of value that perhaps you can sell one day.
- You can work at something you love – I love what I do. The beauty of it is I can also delegate the parts I don’t like to do.
- You get to be creative – Creating a business, especially from scratch is a very creative endeavor. You get to build it exactly to your vision.
There are many advantages for women who are over 50 who choose to start a business.
You have a lot of experience under your belt and can use that towards being an entrepreneur. Even if you were a stay at home mom, think of all the moving parts in managing a home and family that you’ve done that helped you become super competent. You can bring these skills to a company. Having a larger network of contacts of people that you can reach out to for other contacts that you may need. We have more time as we age. Not having to bring kids to swim meets or doing homework gives us the time freedom we need to start a business.
Here a some examples of women who started businesses later in life.
- Martha Stewart – She started out as a caterer, but, opened her lifestyle brand when she was 50. And the rest was history!
- Grandma Moses -At 78, when arthritis rendered her unable to embroider, friends suggested she try painting these scenes instead. She went on to paint more than 1,000 paintings, 25 of them after her 100th birthday. At one point she even licensed her paintings to Hallmark to feature them on their products.
- Ernestine Shepherd – Ernestine is the oldest competitive female bodybuilder in the world, according to the Guinness Book of records. She started at age 56 and even though she is retired from competition, she still works out and coaches fitness at 86 years old.
- Cinde Dolphin – The CEO and founder of KILI Medical Drain Carrie, which she started when as a cancer survivor she saw a need that she filled. She was 59 when it began.
- Angel Cornelius – She began her business Maison 276 in her kitchen at the age of 54. It has since grown into a nationally recognized beauty brand.
- Gail Becker – At the age of 52, she quit her job in 2016 to start a frozen food company specializing in gluten-free crusts. Calling it Caulipower, she built it from -0- to $100 million in just three years.
- Kathy Dannel Vitcak – Started The Blissful Dog at the age of 54. Their product line has grown from just Nose Butter® to a complete range of butters, aromatherapy and now bath and body products for dogs.
Let these examples inspire you to start your own entrepreneurial journey, regardless of how old you are.
Will it be easy? Of course not.
Will it take lots of work? You bet.
Nevertheless, whether you’re starting a $100 a week local business or a $100 million brand, the benefits are the same.
Not only will you know that your destiny is in your own hands, but you’ll realize that you’re capable of more than you might first imagine.
Let me know in the comments below what kind of business you’d love to start!