Have you ever thought to yourself that maybe the time has passed for you to start up something? If you have, it’s not surprising and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for doing it. After all, it seems that everywhere you look, there’s a story in the mainstream media (magazines, newspapers, TV, Web, social media channels, e.t.c.,) about a 20 or 30-something (usually male), and sometimes even teenager who has started something great and achieved tremendous success.
This media obsession with telling startup stories about young successful entrepreneurs has created a misconception that those that are no longer in their 20s or early 30s should give up and settle for whatever it is they have accomplished so far in their lives.
Luckily, there is research to dispel this fallacy. According to the Wall Street Journal, studies indicate that “the typical entrepreneur is a middle-aged professional who learns about a market need and starts a company with their own savings. …the average age of a successful entrepreneur in high-growth industries such as computers, health care and aerospace is 40. Twice as many successful entrepreneurs are aged over 50 as under 25, and twice as many over 60 as under 20.¹”
Through history and in the present, there are many stories of women entrepreneurs across the globe who have chosen to create a business later in life and become enormously successful! Some of them you hear about yet others remain in the shadows. From Vera Wang who began her bridal collection at 40, Julia Childs who co-authored a successful cookbook and started a popular TV cooking series at 50, and Carrolina Herrera who designed her first clothing collection at 41 to Liz Claiborne who co-founded her own firm at 47, Arianna Huffington who created The Huffington Post at 55, and Iman Abdulmajid who founded Iman Cosmetics at 39, these trailblazing women entrepreneurs have proven that it’s never too late to dream! There are many others including those that are less known but you are not likely to find them featured in the mainstream media. Typically, you have to search for their stories in niche media; i.e., media that tells stories about women.
Going for your dreams later in life can be a daunting task because at this stage in our lives we are more apt to be fearful of all the things that could go wrong. The biggest fear perhaps is the time horizon; the thought that if things do go awry, there is not enough time left to fix them, which can mean less time to recover and a compromised retirement. But it always wasn’t this way.
As children, most of us were always encouraged to dream and as parents, we now urge our kids to do the same. There is no focus on what ifs. Unfortunately, this optimism is lost as we grow into adulthood and live through both good and challenging life experiences. The women success stories above prove that you can’t focus on the unknown. Many of them had a lot to loose but decided to take a leap of faith.
I have found that the best way to approach anything that seems intimidating is to take baby steps. Start small, build upon it, and eventually you will achieve your objective. Don’t wait until the right opportunity arises to go for your dream because life is unpredictable. Start up now! Here are some simple pointers that have helped me keep my dream alive and which I hope might be useful to you too:
- Be aware of what’s going on around you – great ideas come in the most unexpected moments so stay alert.
- Write it down – once you discover your idea, jot it down. Doing it brings your dream to life. You’ll notice that you begin paying attention to things around you that may help you get closer to achieving your dream. It’s similar to when you buy a new car model and suddenly start noticing the same car everywhere.
- Create a vision board – visualizing your dream is powerful and will only enhance what you have written down.
- Have a plan – now that you have a clear vision of your dream, develop a plan for how to attain it.
- 30 minutes per day – dedicate half hour of each day towards implementing your plan. We all live busy lives; work, kids, family, you name it! It never ends. However, unless you’re willing to quit your job or get rid of your family, this is your life, your dream, and you have to make time for it. 30 minutes may not seem like much but in the aggregate (1 week, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year), it adds up to a lot of time dedicated to doing what you love.
- Do the work – whether it’s conducting your market and industry analysis, figuring out how to fund your venture, creating your timeline, or honing in on your product or service features, use the 30 minutes everyday to work towards your dream. There are many free resources available to you online and a plethora of books to guide you along. Use social media to your advantage. Identify and start following experts, brands, competitors, organizations, and other resources you think can provide insightful information about your space.
- Stay the course – unforeseen life events are going to happen to throw you off. Be creative and figure out how to overcome any obstacles. Sometimes it is the very dream that you’re trying to achieve that will help you through the difficult times.
- Adapt – as you do you do your research, you will find that your assumptions and expectations might need to change. Don’t be afraid to adapt your plan. Flexibility is important.
- Protect your dream – don’t be too quick to share your dream, even with those close to you. There is a tendency for people, especially loved ones to be naysayers; i.e., tell you what could go wrong and that the odds are stacked against you. Remember, most often, it is not because they don’t want you to succeed but because they care about you and want to shield you from the unknown.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers and I am sure there are additional ways to bring your dreams to life but my hope is that these tips will get you going.
What do you do to keep your dream alive? I would love to hear and learn from you as well.
- (April 29, 2013.) “How Entrepreneurs Come Up with Great Ideas.” The Wall Street Journal.
- All Successful Entrepreneurs Have This Quality (businessinsider.com)