We have all heard the story of 40-year-old Col. Harland Sanders from Kentucky. While he was operating a local service station, he started cooking for travellers who pulled over for gas, this was in the 1930s. For a few years, he started selling complete meals to travellers on-the-go. By 1955, he developed it into a chicken franchising business which the whole world came to know as Kentucky fried chicken or KFC. In less than a decade, Sanders had more than 600 franchises in the U.S. and Canada. All because of one life-changing idea. Though he was a late-bloomer entrepreneur, he found success. Many who think business after retirement is not their cup of tea should read how Sanders was fired from multiple jobs, hustled in a few initial failed businesses but didn’t give up till he was 62 and had finally made it. Globally there are many stories of such entrepreneurs who didn’t shy away from getting into business after retirement. Founders of IBM, Nestle, Adidas and General Electric late bloomer entrepreneurs in the world of business but that didn’t stop them from building billion-dollar enterprises.
Closer to home, Indians too are warming up to the idea of starting late. They might not be immediate, overnight successes but these names are lauded in their local circles and successful small business owners. Take Radha Daga for example. She launched a multi-crore food empire at 69. She started Triguni Eze Eats, a ready-to-eat packaged food company. If you’ve eaten a hot meal inside Indigo flights, then you’ve unknowingly been her consumer. Next time, turn over the meal packet and you’ll find her company’s name Triguni foods etched on it. She started almost a decade ago out of passion for the food industry and ended up becoming an icon for people who want to get into business after retirement. At a time when most people plan to retire after their sixties, Daga went from being a textile exporter to making a mark in the hospitality industry. Stories like these continue to give a blow to the conventional practice of going for traditional retirement as soon as one reaches the autumn of one’s career.
Retirement is not the end for late-bloomer entrepreneurs
As more people like Daga start thinking about following their passion even if they are starting late, the more stereotypes they will be able to break. No doubt that the majority of entrepreneurs and successful businesses today are held by young people in their 30s and 40s. Popular entrepreneurship lists celebrate entrepreneurs from this age group more often than not. I think it’s time that conventional media starts celebrating people who start their business after retirement. This will not only help break the taboo but also inspire other aspirants to consider it as one of the viable choices. Positive image in the media will help break the stereotype that retirement is not the end and people can start at any age if they have an idea that addresses pain points of the market and has the potential to scale up.
Everyone in the industry has their biases. It’s not easy for a late-bloomer entrepreneur to crack the code as people might vary their ideas or not take them seriously enough. Aged entrepreneurs certainly have to put in much more effort than young entrepreneurs to convince an investor, for example. In India, a new generation of entrepreneurs is emerging into the market, and that new generation is the old generation. India’s entrepreneurship story is not only being written by people in their 20s and 30s who are fresh out of college and full of risk-taking abilities. The market is ripe for a fresh set of entrepreneurs who have invested a whole lifetime in gaining experience and are now all set to use that learning to make it into a completely new chapter in their life. The first step towards doing this is simple: believe that retirement doesn’t mean the end.
Research suggests that people in the age group 40 to 64 tend to be extremely motivated to generate outstanding value for themselves and others. A number of people are not realising this and seriously considering business after retirement. The intention of starting mostly affects the end goals. While some simply start as a hobby, some want to follow a life-long dream and some might do it to generate a bit of an extra income.
Battling the taboo in case of Late-bloomer Entrepreneurs
While it’s true that most entrepreneurs in India are young, it should not deter late bloomers from jumping on the bandwagon. It is imperative that they understand that they need to bridge a psychological barrier before starting out as society is not used to seeing people in their 60s starting out something new. It will require them to break taboos and make them appreciate your entrepreneurial journey by not giving up on the way. They need to understand that entrepreneurship is a personal journey and an individual character reflection is what makes a venture unique.
The age of an entrepreneur doesn’t matter as long as the business is being run viably and sustainably. The first step for someone who wants to start business after retirement is to understand that it’s still a taboo and find ways to break it. The next step is to set up a passionate team of people who believe in the idea as much as you do. The next step is to make an investment plan which is sustainable. The final and the most important step is to try and derive the most amount of value out of the business for the customers and figure out ways to sustain momentum. Age has very little to do with any of these steps. A successful business venture is all about getting the above basic hygiene issues right rather than worry about who is getting it done.
Most important step is to try and derive the most amount of value out of the business for the customers and figure out ways to sustain momentum.
- DU Desk
Many psychological theories suggest that every individual goes through eight stages of development from infancy to old age. The seventh stage that falls between 40 and 64 is considered to be an age of critical thinking and hand-holding the next generation, and characteristics like mental calmness and a commitment to mentoring are associated with this stage. This can be a huge advantage from an entrepreneurial point of view. Many young entrepreneurs may lack the kind of mental poise required to make it big as an entrepreneur. This is where aged entrepreneurs can break stereotypes and swing the results in their direction.
They have a longer lifetime of experience and insight and can leverage their relationships in the workforce to turn it into a successful business opportunity.
Challenges of being a late-bloomer entrepreneur
One of the initial roadblocks for any kind of entrepreneur is to identify a market. Even the best of ideas suffer failure if there’s no market for them. It is extremely essential to ruminate over what problem you’re solving with your idea, who are the people likely to benefit from it, or whether you are meeting a need or making someone’s life easier. Most people do not do an evaluation of products and services lacking in their community and end up running an unsuccessful venture.
It is important to make sure that your business is compatible with your skill set, lifestyle and resources. You have to ask questions like: Is this something I’m capable of myself or I would need external help to take care of this? For a business after retirement this becomes all the more important.
Another big hurdle for them is technology. Aged people might not be as tech savvy as their younger counterparts but that shouldn’t stop them from trying. Digital has become a very big aspect of one’s business nowadays and if you have a tight hand at it, it might be a big deterrent for you to begin. Many online Ed-tech platforms like White Hat Jr., Byju’s, Coursera, etc. have modules on everything under the sun. One can consider working on their weaknesses before taking a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of the industry. Late-bloomer entrepreneurs should know how to capitalize on their skills as many can’t always afford to hire full-time employees for every operation. It’s better to be a one-man army and later delegate operations once the business picks up.
Another important issue is health. Studies have shown that the average retiree will experience a significant health issue within six years of retirement, commonly including heart disease, stroke, arthritis and depression. In that case, it becomes all the more important for people starting their business after retirement to stay motivated, active, and connected to combat health issues due to aging.
Creating an online presence as a late-bloomer entrepreneur
Starting out a business at the autumn of your career has a major advantage as well; connections and networking. Most late-bloomer entrepreneurs work on establishing connections while they’re still working and use them after they get retired. Creating an online portfolio is essential in today’s day and age. Joining LinkedIn, for example, has shown to exponentially grow your contact list and hence provides better chances of networking.
You also need well-designed, user-friendly websites to make a great first impression. Some of the other things that one can do to promote their business online are by sponsoring local events, registering business on Google, starting a blog, creating niche online communities and through Facebook and Instagram ads. If you plan on working independently and capitalizing on current technology, online presence is a must. It’s an equivalent of having an office or a visitor card. People should be able to trust you in order to do business with you. The stronger your online presence, the larger an audience you will get.
Depending on your target market, different social media platforms can be used to reach out to different audiences. It is often advisable to start with one platform and focus on building an audience there.
Passion calling : Late-bloomer Entrepreneurs
One way to pamper yourself after retirement is to follow your passion. It can be anything from online selling to food delivery or coaching classes. For some, this may mean a brick-and-mortar business but for many others, this means considering the freedom and flexibility of an online business which can be very rewarding with low initial investment. Online businesses are increasingly popular among seniors looking to run a business from home. As mobile phones, website builders, and social media platforms are becoming easier to use, entrepreneurs are able to derive more value out of it and reach a wider audience.
Business and life coaching and consulting may be other great options for highly-skilled and experienced retirees. They generally have industry experience and who better than them to become an expert and monetise their skills? Even during the coronavirus pandemic, people are connecting on Zoom, Skype and Voxer, etc. to sell consulting or coaching video classes online. Creating an online course or webinar can become a lucrative career option for them. Even in India, full retirement is increasingly becoming less popular as retirees are now choosing to earn their own income after they are done with their “regular” job.
If you think that a particular market is underserved, and your unique expertise is in high demand, business after retirement is the way to go. After dedicating most of your life to one particular career, starting a business is the perfect time to revisit your passion and earn an income doing what you love.
Why start now? – The most intriguing question for Late-bloomer Entrepreneurs
Who should consider starting late? This is a pertinent question that might trouble many. If you’re a quick learner and have always longed to be your own boss, the short answer is that you should consider turning a hobby or a passion into a career. If starting a product-oriented business is not your thing, one can consider starting with a service-oriented business-like personal care services, for example. Depending on your clients’ needs, you can expand into other specialties and delve further into the segment.
Becoming a late-bloomer entrepreneur in retirement is an opportunity to do things better. Some people have a seed of entrepreneurship within them but they never got the time to pursue it. Retirement is the best time to start if one has been pushing it for long. People who choose to become retired entrepreneurs typically do so because they have the capacity to dedicate that kind of time, energy and experience to a new business.
People can start as a freelancer. Being well-connected is valuable while launching a successful business venture. Retirees generally have ample connections from the industry. Retired entrepreneurs may also have the benefit of a financial cushion. They can leverage the security of their saving as compared to someone who’s starting out with no financial backing. They also have the advantage of lower monthly expenditures and fewer liabilities. This could be a great plus for someone who wants to start something new.
Being well-connected is valuable while launching a successful business venture. Retirees generally have ample connections from the industry. Retired entrepreneurs may also have the benefit of a financial cushion.
- DU Desk
Social need is another reason why people start business after retirement. Some feel that it is a good time to give back to the community and help fulfil a social need through a social entrepreneurship venture. Running a small business can also help keep you motivated, happy, and healthy for years to come, and can also be used to supplement your retirement income. Many retired people are full of drive and ambition. It is imperative that people don’t let retirement make your life devoid of any structure or purpose but rather starting business after retirement and following your passion can help you reinvent your life in a fun way. Here’s a checklist of people who should start a business even if they think it’s too late for them:
- Do you want to be your own boss?
- Do you want to earn by doing what you love?
- Do you want to make a difference?
- Do you want to learn something new?
- Do you feel age is just a number?
If answers to any of these questions are a yes and you’re considering becoming a retired entrepreneur, then you’re on the right path.