It was once stated, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Well, I’m not so sure I can speak for the senior canines, but this 66 year-old grandma who entered the business world at age 59 is still learning new tricks every day. I progressed through the first 58 years of life raising a family, working in various ministries and not once ever thinking about starting a business. Then it happened. I received a gift from my son that I knew I would never use. It was a beautiful, trendy purse that I loved except that it had no pockets, and I was a fanatic about keeping my purse organized. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell my son that I would never use his thoughtful gift, so I did what any other good mother would do. I designed a purse organizer, and started the Pouchee® business to distribute them. Seven years later we are in approximately 2,000 global retail outlets and growing. There are a number of advantages to running a business after 50, but also some unique pitfalls. The following are a few tips I am privileged to pass on to anyone who has an idea but thinks they are too old to get started:
- Be fearless. Maybe “face your fears” would be more accurate. Everyone has them…fear of failure, fear of losing your investment, fear of the unknown, and the ever-present fear of just looking stupid because you have no idea what you’re getting into. In my case I was afraid to even pick out my own colors for my first Pouchees®, fearful that no one would like them, and then what would I do with them when they came in…what if no one would buy them? I can’t tell you, however, the freedom and exhilaration you get from just going forward anyway. Pretty soon you learn that some decisions you make won’t turn out well and some will, just as in life. Always keep in mind that you are never too old to learn from your mistakes.
- Pace yourself. OK, so at age 50, 60 or older you don’t have the energy level you had at 30. Well, maybe you do, but I can tell you I sure don’t. This is where I have to make “smart” choices about when the time is right to hire another person. Listen to your own body and if you are barely able to put your fork to your mouth at the end of the day, it may be time to share the load. Maybe your choice would be to limit the size of your business in order to lighten the pace, but I have found it a lot of fun to watch the business grow and allow others to help me keep up the pace.
- Be flexible. Maybe you’ve noticed that things don’t always go your way? This is especially true in business. Sometimes the tendency in later years is to try to move the world to our way of thinking and our way of doing things while we stand there, immovable, holding our ever-wise ground. Well, granted we do accumulate a lifetime of wisdom over the years, but sometimes a fresh look on things is worth examination. If we are unwilling to be flexible we might just look around one day and find that the (business) world has zoomed past us.
- Trust yourself. Someone once said that wisdom is the result of insightful common sense coupled with experience. By the time you’ve reached your senior years you certainly have had a boatload of experiences. Listen to that inner voice warning you or encouraging you. Sometimes it could be that pizza you had for breakfast, but often it is the wisdom of life’s participation guiding you to what you know is the right or wrong direction.
- Trust others. Hiring the right people is, in my opinion the most crucial decisions you can make as a business owner of any age, but when you are over 50 it is more so. Who you have working beside you towards a common goal will either speed or slow your progress to a crawl, and let’s face it, seniors have less time to waste. Once you are confident that your employees are all working towards the success of your business then trust them to handle their responsibilities. This allows you to concentrate on the area of your business that is your strength.
As a senior I have learned that life is way too short to waste a minute of it. It’s all about choices, and I choose to show the world that seniors in the 21st century are fit, savvy and not content to just sit in their rocker waiting for the kids to call. If you’ve thought about starting a business but figured it was too late for you, then I suggest you get off your rocker and give it shot.
Anita Crook, owner and creator of Pouchee®.
Pouchee® blends fashion and functionality with affordable organizational solutions for today’s busy women. Pouchee® has been featured in many national publications for innovative product design and entrepreneurial excellence. For more information, please visit the company website at www.pouchee.com or contact Anita Crook at 864-335-0580.
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