Do you want to start your own business but think you might already be too old for it? In this case age is nothing but a number.
I turned 40 last year and as I sat back chatting away with a group of friends who are heading towards the big 50 I heard a lot of “if only” or “should have” or “I only wish”. We were talking about working for the man and being employed as opposed to being a business owner. I firmly fell into the latter category and have mostly started my own businesses or have been an investor in others.
In fact, if you had have told me at 17 when I pretty much dropped out of school that 23 years later I would have run a billion dollar company, chair a university institute or have represented Australia on a UN body I would have honestly said you had rocks in your head.
But there it is. So, the more we chatted, and keep in mind there are highly respected business executives and academic leaders, the more I realised that no matter how successful they all were working for someone else they all felt as if something was missing.
Now, rarely do I pontificate in my circle of friends because when we get together on a Friday night for a few beers we usually just talk sport and manly type things like fishing and who has a bigger boat – but this time I decided to give them advice – these are the five things I would tell my 50 year old self (or for that matter 60, 70 or 80 year old self) about being an entrepreneur:
#1: It’s never too late: it doesn’t matter how old you are or at what age you decided to bring an idea to life. The key is not getting right to the end of life and being regretful. Do it, don’t regret it
#2: Harness your experience: life experience matters. It shapes us and it enables us to look at problems through a different lens. We tend to second guess that life experience; don’t, harness it
#3: Failure is still ok: failure is still okay at 50 just as it was at 30 and at 18. Lessons are part of our life long journey and right up until our last breath we would have learnt something new
#4: Planning is still essential: mapping ideas and putting structure around them are still important at 50 as they were at 18. This time the goals and objectives may be a little different so still set them
#5: Be clear on your exit strategy: as we get older it becomes more important to work towards independence in retirement. Make sure you map your time line for exit to meet your plans for retirement
The reality is life tends to teach us all lessons at different points and one lesson above all else has always stood out for me: have a go.
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