In my last post I talked a little bit about some of the challenges and advantages that come along with being an entrepreneur “of a certain age.” Today I’d like to give some specific advice to prospective entrepreneurs who may be starting later in life. Some of this I learned as a result of failure, and some as a result of success, but hopefully you can benefit from my experiences and integrate these ideas into your own entrepreneurial adventure.
Be Selective When Choosing Your Team
The older you get, the more friends you have. People have a tendency to rely on the folks they know and are close to. As an entrepreneur, that might not necessarily be the best fit for where you want to go. The result is that you might be faced with some difficult personal and personnel decisions.
Do a Brain Dump
When you start a new adventure, you have to approach it with a fresh passion, and that means letting go of many of your preconceptions. What worked before might not necessarily work with a new business. Frequently, we go to strategies and tactics that have worked for us in the past. It’s human nature—we go with what works! If it’s not your dollars and cents on the line, however, you need to take a different approach. Don’t fall into the trap of recycling yesterday’s approach to solve tomorrow’s problems.
Act Bold, Not Old
As a more mature entrepreneur, you are likely inclined to not be quite as aggressive and to be a little too risk averse. After all, a mistake at 50 is not like a mistake at 30: we only get so many chances to reboot and start all over. There is an awareness there that you need to get this right, and that can lead to an overabundance of caution. Because you still need to succeed, and success rarely (if ever) comes from making safe choices. You need to be smart, but also strategically aggressive.
Later in life, it’s critical to be familiar with new technology if you want to be successful. The reality is, you need to be thinking about the next generation—not just today’s technology. There is a learning curve, and you need to retrain your brain to learn and to look forward. When you do that successfully, even as an older entrepreneur, you can learn to not only recognize the important trends that are out there today, but you can begin to get a feel for what comes next—and that is when you can really do some big things.