A Change of Direction - Becoming an Entrepreneur

We take a look at the challenges these entrepreneurs face and the support available to them.

Starting a business is a lifelong dream for many people. Some of them think of leaving their job and starting their own company. Whether you’re setting off in a completely new direction or exploring opportunities within your existing area of expertise, it’s never too late to become an entrepreneur.

Those who become entrepreneurs when they are shifting careers often have more chance of success. Despite the media’s portrayal of entrepreneurs as young, tech-savvy disruptors in their late teens or twenties, the reality is that many successful people starting businesses are in their thirties, forties, fifties or beyond. According to a report in Harvard Business Review, the average age of a successful start-up founder is 45. [1]

Experience is an asset

These ’mature’ entrepreneurs are just as likely to succeed as those in their 20s. Indeed, a number of entrepreneurs in this group have achieved great business success. Eric Yuan created Zoom at 41, Arianna Huffington founded the HuffPost at 54, Bob Parsons founded Go Daddy at 47 and Reed Hastings started Netflix when he was 37. So if you’re considering leaving your job to become an entrepreneur, age is clearly not a barrier – and experience matters.

Many people starting businesses find that their past experiences can be a huge asset. Wide networks, experience and personal capital help to make more experienced entrepreneurs particularly successful when starting businesses.

They also have further advantages through experience of relevant markets, industry knowledge and supplier networks.

Challenges facing mature entrepreneurs

While it is now easier to create a business, there are still significant risks, especially for entrepreneurs who have gone past the more ‘worry free’ years of their teens and twenties. Often, they have reputations to maintain or families to support, which raises the stakes. This can make starting a business a daunting prospect. 

All business, particularly start-ups, have to find ways to use technology in order to be competitive. Younger entrepreneurs are more likely to have a tech background or to be able to partner with someone they studied with that has one. For many middle-aged entrepreneurs one of the biggest challenges they face is the absence of a tech co-founder.

Fortunately, there is plenty of help and support available when starting a new venture.

For instance, start-up incubators and networking schemes have made it significantly easier for entrepreneurs to pursue their business dreams.

Business incubators

Business incubators provide start-ups with the support and resources young companies often find difficult to access and can make a huge difference to the success of a business in its early stages.

One of their biggest benefits is that they give entrepreneurs more time to develop their product, while handling some of the day-to-day administrative tasks.

They also provide access to influential networks and prospective business partners that are not necessarily available to young firms.

Entrepreneurs can share ideas with other small businesses and entrepreneurs within the incubator. As well as start-ups, incubators are home to angel investors, venture capitalists and other businesses, providing the opportunity for mentorship.

Some incubators are also connected to accelerators, which can help businesses with their next stage of growth.

Benefits of networking

Networking is possibly one of the most important skills for entrepreneurs, providing advice, funding, clients and support.

For new entrepreneurs who are looking to make contacts, networking schemes can help  make the right connections. 

One example is the WealthiHer Network, a leading professional organisation offering women and female entrepreneurs the knowledge, tools and confidence they need to manage and grow their wealth. As a founding partner of the WealthiHer Network,SG Kleinwort Hambros is proud to contribute to and organise events, forums and discussions that offer female entrepreneurs valuable connections.

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Five things to consider

1.    It’s never too late to start a business. 
2.    Experience matters and is a real asset.
3.    Mature entrepreneurs have the advantage of networks and personal capital.
4.    Business incubators can give entrepreneurs access to vital help and resources when starting a business.
5.    Networking schemes can help entrepreneurs make the right connections.
 

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