Middle-aged people are the economic engine of any economy and these people’s livelihoods and financial security have been ravaged by retrenchments due to the COVID pandemic leaving entrepreneurship as the only outcome for generating income and rebuilding their lives.

For many, this will be the first time they venture into entrepreneurship and it can be scary, overwhelming, risky and costly if they make the wrong decision.

Yet most entrepreneurial development programs and efforts are focused towards the youth. Youth entrepreneurs have little to lose when their startup fails because most still live with their parents, unlike middle-aged entrepreneurs.

These middle-aged entrepreneurs ranging from around 30 – 60 years of age are fondly referred to as Grey Entrepreneurs. Referring to not just the grey hair but also the grey in the head from experience.

Worldwide the average age of a successful startup owner is 47 years old. The average age of a business owner ready for investment is 51. The success rate between Grey Entrepreneur in contrast, to youth start-ups, is much higher.

It makes you think!

With so many retrenchments, a country’s economy might be better served by focusing on developing Grey Entrepreneurs helping us save the biggest economic contributors.

They have life experience, years of skills through employment, networks, contacts, assets, as well as some form of a financial cushion to help them start their enterprise and they have faced stress, and failure before, making them more resilient.

With most entrepreneurial development programs focused on the youth where do, Grey Entrepreneurs find the right guidance?

There is more than enough information, programs, courses and training to help. But this is mostly in small separate isolated silos of information which increases the risk to Grey Entrepreneurs because you don’t know what you don’t know.

Trying to learn how to be a new entrepreneur using all the isolated pieces of information on the internet, is the equivalent of trying to become an accountant by browsing Wikipedia.

Learning to build a business this way, without overall guidance and a roadmap, could open yourself up to bigger financial risks and possible failure. For the grey entrepreneur, this means risking possibly your last available capital and possibly impacting the lives of loved ones and family.

You need a roadmap, guidance, vision, motivation, support and skill. Throw in accountability, sound boarding and masterminding, and you have a recipe for success.

Learning how to start and grow a successful business in your middle age can be a very exciting prospect to achieve long-forgotten life goals, freedom and lifestyle.

There are people around you, going through the same phase as you are, the same stress, with their life skills acquired by previous careers.

Why do successful business owners tend to be older than 47?

The main reason is that they are generally more mature. They have more life experience, better people skills, advanced planning abilities, and generally more knowledge. In most cases, even if they were previously employed and are not career entrepreneurs regardless of if they are trying to start a business voluntary or due to retrenchment or downscaling. They have contact networks, resources and a stronger drive to succeed due to their life responsibilities.

I believe anyone can achieve a thousand times more than what they think they can. In many cases, due to our upbringing, earlier lifestyle, educational and environment, people simply do not realise their own potential.

They are told what they are good at, what their limits are and then what to look for in life. People are also discouraged to explore their options in favour of establishing themselves.

This outlook in life greatly limits your mind, your motivation and, most importantly, your self-confidence.

Middle-aged entrepreneurs who decide to start a startup are mostly scared. Scared of risking what they have, scared of not knowing what lies ahead and scared that they will not know to solve challenges that lay ahead.

Four targets are centered around encouraging participants to overcome that fear and fostering a sense of professional self-confidence. They include:

  • Learn how to motivate yourself, allow yourself to dream and imagine a future that you really want. Both in terms of financial freedom and freedom in your lifestyle.
  • Surround yourself with experienced mentors that have survived both success and failure. The more experienced and plentiful your mentor’s areas they will be able to collectively guide and help you aim for realistic targets for your new start-up’s.
  • Learn both soft and hard skills and never stop learning. Soft skills include the ability to survive and thrive amongst the inevitable stresses of being an owner-business and hard skills will give you the confidence to solve real-world problems that you are bound to face.

We can begin by allowing ourselves to start dreaming again.

You aren’t limited to what your boss or job tells you you are. You truly are more. In your middle age, you might feel you haven’t achieved what you planned when you were young. You might feel other people, friends and family are moving forward while you are left behind. This is not the case. If we all dream again, we all can turn our dream into reality. Sometimes it just takes a friendly opportunity to show you how.