Starting over in your middle age – New business pitfalls

Whether you arrive on the path to entrepreneurship via an inner compulsion, chance or financial need, beginning a new business post the first flush of your career path can be a daunting task. While you would have the benefits of experience, a wider network and familiarity with responsibility in your corner, there are a few mistakes to look out for in order to make a successful run at it.

Be clear about your abilities and requirements

You might have had a lot of experience and success in your job so far but running a business, even if in the same sector, will involve a lot more than you might have had exposure to or can account for. Make an honest and critical assessment of your what and how much you know and are good at. Think of the things you could do but shouldn’t so that you can concentrate on more important aspects. Budget for help or hires for such areas and those outside your core competencies. For ex, accounting, legal work, administration etc.

Think carefully about funding

By middle age, one is usually more financially secure and more experienced with money matters. But before pouring in your savings and retirement fund into your business, stop and think a bit. You might feel better off using your own money rather than worrying about outside funding at high interests, but consider your financial obligations and responsibilities once. Do you have enough for your family requirements and to help you tide over the initial and most difficult years of setting up the business before you start seeing any returns? If not, would it be better to bite the bullet and go around with a hat in your hand rather putting your family and future at complete risk?

Chart your time requirements

One of the benefits of starting your own business is getting to decide your own work timings. But having your own business also means that you are never off the job. It is a definite goodbye to all thoughts of normal and specific office hours and a work-life balance, at least in the initial years of setting up. Think about how this might affect other demands on your time coming from your spouse, kids, parents etc and their requirements. Talk them through what impact your decisions will have on their lives so as to minimise resentment and stress being added to the burden of running a new startup.

Have a Plan B

It is not the end of the world if you try and fail at a business in your 20’s. But if you are starting post 40, you might not have the same equanimical approach to failure. There’s a lot more riding on you by now, including financial responsibilities of your own family and maybe even your parents. So it becomes more important to take a realistic look at the possibility of failure before your start. Spend that extra time on research and what can go wrong and what can you do if things go wrong as they likely will. It is always better to be over prepared rather than scrounging for a helpline later.

There is no cut off line for the age to start a new venture. All you need is the drive, research and readiness to pour in your all. Make full use of the experience and contacts you will have amassed so far, and keep an eye open for the above pitfalls to ensure a smoother sailing to the island of success.