You Are Never Too Old To Start Your Own Business

The recent bar exams produced a surprise when a senior citizen landed in the top 10 list of examinees. This was proof that old age is not an excuse to avoid seeking high accomplishment. If a senior citizen can excel in law, this means that a person’s mental capabilities can still be sharp enough to do anything he/ she wants.
It is unfortunate that media focuses more on young people making it big in business. The focus is often on high-tech or trendy ventures where young people usually excel, even if the great majority of businesses are in more traditional industries.
In the U.S., there are several well-known entrepreneurs who started when they were over 60. One of the most famous is Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). He used his retirement money to launch one of the world’s largest fast food chains. Here in the Philippines, there are many role models for the elderly, but they are rarely given attention.

Experience Vs. Energy

The truth is that there are far more senior citizens who have started and grown a business than there are younger people who have been able to build stable companies. In the majority of cases, the advantage of experience was more critical than the physical energy of youth.
My observation is that most young entrepreneurs tend to squander too much on overhead. They are also more prone to blunders that a more mature business man would probably avoid. Maybe it is because the young know they have more time to recover from errors and they are less afraid of making mistakes that may deplete their capital.
Besides all the points above, modern medicine has now changed the definition of old age. Twenty years ago, a person who is 60 is generally considered old. Now, 60 is considered by many to be just middle-aged. The increase in our life span has also brought the need for more income to sustain our lifestyle well into our 80s and 90s. There are many advantages to starting a business when you are no longer young:
Fewer commitments. Usually the children are already finished with their schooling so you no longer have to worry about risking their education with your entrepreneurship plans.
You have more funds. It is more likely that you have already accumulated funds besides your retirement benefits. This is very useful since the more cash you have, the more options you can pursue besides having a reserve in case of setbacks.
You have a wider network. Oftentimes, the key to getting a sale depends more on who you know than what you know. Naturally, those who have been around longer are likely to have a bigger network.
You get more respect. For the most part, we as a society treat the elderly with more respect. This will come in handy especially in handling personnel and in negotiations.
You possess greater knowhow. The best thing going for a senior person is the wealth of experience that can only be acquired by decades of actual practice.
You have a more mature attitude. Most people gain more control over their emotions as they get older. They are less likely to indulge in vices. They have a better judgment of people and life in general. These soft skills enable the more mature person to manage people more effectively. It also gives him more self-control and wisdom, enabling him to make wiser decisions.
Despite the advantages mentioned, senior citizens must know how to maximize their strengths and avoid areas of weakness. Here are some tips to attain this:
Select businesses that are less physically taxing. Businesses that demand long hours frequently or those that involve physically tiring tasks should be avoided. However, if this is the business that is ideal for your skills and experience, then try to delegate the physically difficult part as much as possible.
Keep healthy. Have regular check-ups, exercise and watch your diet. While the young may be able to ignore health concerns for a while, this is far more dangerous for those in their 50s and above.
Focus on an industry you are familiar with. You would be throwing away your main advantage if you will try another type of business. Whereas if you pick a venture that you had extensive experience in, you would be starting at a great competitive edge.
Build your network while you are still employed. Think far ahead. Try to maintain good relations with everyone you are in contact with, you never know if they may be in a position to help your business years from now.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.