The Pro’s and Con’s of being a start up in your 40’s
Life begins at 40 or so they say and for me this was absolutely true. I don’t dismiss my experiences from the early years, this was after all the training ground for what was to come. I met my second husband a week after my 40th Birthday and for me this signified a new beginning. I was also training as a counsellor at the time and this too meant fundamental changes to my mindset and outlook on life.
I began training as a coach in 2015 and at the age of 45 I launched my business. I had just got married for the second time and recently graduated with my diploma in coaching. It had been a very busy couple of years. Moving to a new house, planning a wedding and studying had left me wondering where the time had gone.
I was keen to get going and share my skills and couldn’t wait for the clients and the money to start pouring in. Yep so that’s not quite how things turned out. I make no secret of my struggles as a start up and so when I began to plan this latest blog, it very quickly started to look like a long list of pro’s and con’s.
A strange thing happened too. As I started to write I remembered something that I hadn’t thought about for many years. This wasn’t the first time I had attempted to start a business. Back in my 30’s I had set myself up as a dog walker. It was a far less popular occupation back then and demand was high. I got business cards printed, purchased insurance, wrote contracts and soon I was in business.
At the time I had recently separated from my husband and was in the process of selling the family home. My girls were young, and I thought it would be a great business to fit around them. What I hadn’t anticipated was how intrusive the business would become. How popular it would be and how stressful it would become trying to balance home and business life. My children were and are my highest priority but back then their needs were much greater than they are today and within a year I had walked away.
Until I started to plan this blog, I had forgotten all of this. Honestly most of that period of my life is a blur so it comes as no surprise really. This has now given me a fresh insight into what it means to me to be starting a business again in my 40’s (let’s be clear … nearly 50’s) and so here it is.
My First experience of starting a business
Starting the dog walking business in my 30’s wasn’t a ridiculous idea. I had a lot more energy and determination. I could see a gap in the market for bespoke dog walking and the plans and ideas I had were not crazy. If I had been able to stick it out and survive those early years it would almost certainly have grown into a profitable and sustainable business. So why didn’t I stick it out?
Only hindsight can answer that. If I had known then, what I know now it would have been a very different story. Being a start-up was not really a thing then – at least not in the circles I moved in. I had no idea about networking, advertising or support and most of all I had no idea how important mindset would be.
Managing time and balancing priorities
Managing time and balancing priorities is probably the biggest obstacle when your children are young and so in order to achieve balance, we need to understand how to make best use of our skills and create an effective and productive mindset.
There are so many advantages to running a business when you are younger. Nowadays technology is far less of an obstacle, and long term you have more time to build your business into a sustainable income for the future. Younger people have a more positive growth mindset and motivation to make a difference in the world is high. University education as well as technical skills mean understanding business is easier. We worry less about our health and seem to have almost an endless supply of energy (almost) Women these days are expected to be able to do it all. Have a job, have kids, run a home and now we all seem to want a side-line too. So, there is as I discovered a downside. Short term your time is far more divided and on a day to day basis this can be exhausting. Children are far more in need of our time and financially we are vulnerable, and this means an almost constant feeling of failure. No matter where our attention goes, someone somewhere is missing out.
As we get older our priorities change
Once we hit our 40’s things start to change. Our kids are older and need our time a little less. We have the benefit of experience and our life skills are more advanced. We care far less about what other people think and our time on a day to day basis is increased. We are more willing to ask for help rather than powering through and if we are lucky our relationships and finances are stable. Short term we have more time to dedicate to our business and learn the skills and information necessary to remain focused.
The pros and cons seem to reverse once we hit our mid 40’s. Health and energy can become difficult to navigate and we worry more about the future. The future is a lot closer when you are nearing 50 and we experience an overwhelming feeling of time running out. We are far less willing to take risks and push back from others can be difficult. Society would encourage us to slow down in our later years, kick back and cruise. Yep, starting a business in your 40’s doesn’t feel much like kicking back and so we judge ourselves constantly.
Health has been a big factor for me. I have struggled with hormone changes and this has meant low energy, brain fog and a whole lot of anxiety, procrastination and paranoia. Check out my blog perimenopausal. Honestly as tough as some days have been, I would take brain fog over a distraught 6-year-old any day.
Celebrating the Pro’s and accepting the Con’s
I can only really talk from my own experience and that of my clients. I work almost exclusively with female clients and my niche is women over 40. So, it is inevitable that a few of the con’s will rear their head from time to time and as I work with each client to improve their mindset, we make time to acknowledge the cons’ while celebrating the pro’s.
To help us do this I have compiled a list of tips. Tips that help us to maintain mental resilience and recognise where limiting beliefs can get in the way. Offering some perspective and process to a healthier and more productive mindset.
So here it is my take on what being in business has meant to me over the last 20 years. I am looking forward with cautions optimism to the future and embracing the time I have. None of us really know how much time we have in this world. So, make the most of each moment. Live for today and always seek the positive and the joy in everything you do.
My top tips for starting a business in your 40’s
Take time to think about what you really want from life. What you want from your business and what skills you have to achieve it. Understanding what makes you tick is key to success as a start-up when you are the product.
Get your head around time
Time and behaviours are important at any stage. Be realistic about how much time you actually have to work on your business and how much time you have to work in your business. Start by blocking out all the time where you are committed elsewhere. If you value your weekends or time with your family – block it out. If you start a business to have more spare time not less, then make that your priority. Work smarter not harder.
Be ready to reassess your goals
As we get older our priorities change and in business this is no different. If we start off with a goal and it’s not working, then be ready to pivot. The need to reassess or re-evaluate our goals can come at any time. So, if something isn’t working. Stop. Reflect. Re-evaluate.
Outsource the things you don’t know or don’t like
Don’t waste time trying to learn something you have no interest in. Time is money and there is no point spending valuable time learning how to create great copy, or develop your website, or learn an accounting software package if that really doesn’t interest you. Equally of you are beating yourself up because your ironing pile is 4 ft high or you haven’t cleaned your toilet in weeks then outsource it to someone who can do it.
Make dealing with your limiting beliefs a priority
Limiting beliefs will break you if you don’t address them. Fear and self-doubt are big obstacles as well as issues around money and self-worth. If you are experiencing mindset issues that are holding you back, then you would do well to speak to a mindset coach. Don’t imagine for one moment that you are the only one with this problem. Limiting beliefs hold us back in all areas of life and it is vital that we overcome them in our business in order to achieve our goals.
Understand your core values
Values are ingrained upon us. They make us who we are. They influence our thoughts our feelings and our behaviours in every area of our life. They get stronger as we get older and ignoring a core value can have catastrophic effects on how we operate. There are a variety of exercises including mind mapping that can help us to uncover these values and use them to our advantage. Core values is one of my favourite activities to do with my clients. It is a game changer.
Seek joy passion and purpose in your work
We don’t start a business in our 40’s for it to break us. We are probably looking to fulfil a need of sorts. Inspire passion, help others, seek joy or realise a dream or desire we may have had for many years. If that is the case, then making sure your business is focussed on delivering. While we want to offer a service to others, that service or product becomes draining if we ourselves don’t get joy from it. Working with clients who drain us instead of those that inspire us for example. So, make joy a priority when planning your goals.
Be honest about your “Why”
The first question to ask any start up is Why? To maintain the level of motivation required to become a sustainable business you must have a reason why. Be honest with yourself and your family about why you want this. You would be shocked at how many clients say, “I hadn’t really thought about that”!!!! It might be additional income or a pension plan. It might be creative passion or boredom. It might be a need to feel useful or inspired. Is this a legacy to hand down to your children or is a bit of income to pay for the next cruise? Whatever the reason, spend some time to get clarity on your why, and make that the goal. All goals come with a feeling attached so identify the feeling and aim for that.
Have a plan for your finances
Putting yourself into financial difficulties is bad news at any age, but if you are used to a certain lifestyle and want your business to support that, be ready. If someone had told me, it would be 4 years before my business was sustainable, I honestly think I would have jacked it in from the start. Be sure to keep yourself afloat. If that means keeping or getting a part time job, then do it. Having realistic expectations is sensible advice. Not to sound too pessimistic, just be ready.
Monitor your health and energy levels
Hormone issues are nothing new. We’ve done childbirth, post-natal depression, anxiety, exhaustion and monthly highs and lows. So, by the time we hit mid 40 we think we are ready for anything. Ok perimenopause and menopause are brutal. Brain fog, anxiety, paranoia, agoraphobia, panic attacks and exhaustion are just for starters. So be ready. Monitor your energy levels and seek help and advice as soon as you can. Good nutrition and exercise are great and talking it through with others is highly beneficial.
Find your people
In our 40’s our social circle can become more selective. We don’t do the playground thing quite as much and so our network is smaller. Great friends and family are not to be sniffed at; however, they will not unfortunately offer the support we truly need. Networking or meeting up with other business owners is where we find understanding, inspiration, help, support, resources and sometimes a shoulder to cry on. Make the effort to get out and speak to people that can offer you what you need.
Make mental resilience your number one priority
Survival in business comes down to one thing. Our ability to maintain our mental resilience. These tips will hopefully go a small way towards helping you. Working with a coach is the best and most effective way to ensure we are on the right track. Coaching comes in many forms from one off conversations to long term support. If you are over 40 and struggling or you are considering starting a business and would like some help then drop me a message.