Setting up a Business in my Midlife
Got a great idea for a business, but don’t know quite how to make it a reality?
With years of life and work experience behind you to draw on, you’re probably in the best place ever to strike out on your own. Here we share some of the highs (and lows) of setting up a Business in my Midlife.
I spent 20 years working in the corporate world. I loved the industry I was in, worked with a great team, and learnt a lot. But, as I moved into my 40s, I’d begun to feel I’d reached my sell by date at work; my tolerance levels dropped through the floor. I guess the best way to describe it is having lost my get up and go.
Starting my own business feels exciting, overwhelming, exhilarating and nerve-wracking in equal measure. But it’s given me back my get up and go, and I wake up excited to work on it everyday.
In this article I’m going to share the lessons I learnt about starting up a business in my Midlife.
1. Don’t skimp on the research
This isn’t rocket science, but it’s a step that people often miss.
It’s really important to know what else is out there. Is your business unique, or are there other people doing similar stuff?
Talking your idea through with friends and family is great, but they’ll always have a certain amount of basis and won’t want to hurt your feelings.
Find people who you think would be your ideal customer and ASK them if they like the idea, and more importantly – would they use your service? If not, why not? You need brutal honestly at this stage, before you commit any time or money to it.
Don’t be afraid of negative feedback, its actually a gift! If you’re hearing consistently that what you are offering isn’t hitting the spot, ask yourself what you could change, or reposition.
Your business offering needs to meet what your potential customers are looking for, or it just won’t work. Research into your competitors and customer needs is critical in helping you shape your thinking.
2. Know what you want to achieve
Be clear on what you want to achieve, how you plan to measure this, and when you want to achieve it by. Write these goals down and put them somewhere you can’t miss them.
If what you’re trying is totally new, it’s ok to ‘make them up’. Look at your similar businesses – and try and take a steer from them.
And goals shouldn’t always be directly about revenue. If you’ve created a revenue forecast, you’ll know how much you plan to earn, and by when. Think about broader goals like brand awareness, and business development.
Split your goals into short term and longer term buckets. You aren’t going to have 100K followers on instagram over night, but is 2K a good goals for the first 3 months?
Check back in on your goals regularly. It’s all to easy to write up your goals at the start and then forget them. Tracking your progress against your goals can give you a boost when things are going well, and help focus your mind if things get tough.
3. Be clear on how you want to work
Dedicate some time to thinking about your personal values and the values you want your business to be based on.
For us as we built up The Midlife Hub, we knew we wanted a no BS, human approach in the way we built our business. And because there is so much negativity associated with the midlife, we wanted bring humour and positivity into it too.
For me personally, I wanted agency over how I worked. After years of commuting and the 9-5, I knew I didn’t want a structured work pattern.
I’d reached a point in my life, where I didn’t want to compromise on ‘me’. In addition to wanting to build a business of value, I wanted the flexibility to build the things that are important to me, into my day. To be able to take the dogs for a walk in the morning, or do a yoga class at lunchtime.
4. Communication is key
You should be able to articulate your business in 10 words or less. In these days of communication overload, I can’t stress enough how vital it is to be able to convey quickly and clearly what your business offers. You literally have seconds to grab someones attention, and first impressions count both in person and online, if you can’t articulate what you do, how on earth will you customers know if you’re for them? You need to create a ‘tagline’ for your business that you can use every time some asks what you do – capturing the essence of what you do or offer.
Once you’ve nailed your tag line, you also need to think about why you’re different. What is it that your business offers that’s unique? Clearly listing the reasons you’re different gives your customers a reason to choose you.
5. Create your own advisory board
Sound a bit corporate-y? Hands up – it is, but it’s also really good practise. Find people you trust and ask for their advice. I’ve always found that most people love to be asked for their opinion. (You can only ask, and if it’s a no – move on)
Ask a friend who’s a social media junky, to give you advice on your social media style. Or someone in your network to give you some honest feedback on your communication style.
Learn from those who’ve gone before you. Listen to Podcasts or follow businesses you like on social, they’ll share their tips and learnings. Look for content that shares it failures as well as successes. You can learn from their mistakes – absorb the advice they share.
Grow a tough skin when asking for their feedback. There can be nothing worse than someone critiquing a website you sweated blood and tears over. Accept all feedback in the spirit it’s given – ultimately it’s up to you how much of it you take onboard.
6. Rome wasn’t built in a day
Last year I had some building work done at home. The builder told me it would take 6 weeks. It ended up more like 12.
Launching a business can be a bit like that. Despite all the best intentions in preparation and planning, it can take longer than you think to pull it all together.
Unexpected issues pop up, Things don’t always go to plan. Remember no one else is as invested in this business as you. So when people don’t respond to emails immediately or need chasing up to meet a deadline, breathe through it.
If delays happen, don’t be hard on yourself or treat it as a personal failure – it happens to us all. Put it down to growing and learning, and do what you can to get yourself back on track.
7. Good Enough is Good Enough
If you’re trying something for the first time, and it doesn’t go as planned, it can be easy to be hard on yourself. I’m my own worse enemy with this, and make a point of reminding myself that I’m learning (and hopefully getting better) at everything I do.
Take me for example, whilst I’ve been writing and editing marketing copy for years, I’ve never written a blog before. I am sure it could do with some polish, and I’m sure I’ll come back and amend it, but for now, I’m happy with what I’ve done.
At the start of a business you should be trying lots of different idea and angles, testing and learning what works. It really doesn’t have to be perfect first time. Good enough is Good enough.
The older I get, the more I realise that everyone struggles and get things wrong some of the time (some people are just better at hiding this than others). At times I questioned setting up a business in my Midlife, but can honestly tell you I’m loving it.
Have confidence and trust in yourself. You’re possibly at the best EVER point in your life to start something new. With years of life and work experience behind you to draw on, you’re in a perfect place to work the way you want to.
What’s stopping you?
Enjoyed this article? Why not read Why its great in your midlife.