Starting a business after the age of 50 is obviously a lot like starting a business at any age. All companies pretty much have the same rules for achieving success -- find a new idea; treat customers well; deliver value; outpace the competition.
Still, there are some subtle nuances about starting any business a little later in life. Sure, you may be approaching retirement, with a lot more free time and a nice nest egg to tap, but bouncing back from a failed business at 25 can also be a lot easier than when you're 65.
Are you over 50 and thinking about branching out on your own as an entrepreneur? Here are five things you need to know.
1. Don't see your age as a deterrent.
It can be easy to think about starting a business the way people over 50 used to think about going back to college to get that degree they always wanted. As long as you don't want to retire in a couple years, starting a company later in life shouldn't be a big deal. If you want a little historical inspiration, look at Ray Kroc, who was 52 when he went into business with Richard James "Dick" McDonald and Maurice James "Mac" McDonald and started the McDonald's empire. Harland Sanders, founder of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) started franchising his business when he was 65. And Momofuku Ando, the inventor of ramen noodles, started his company selling precooked instant noodles at age 48.
2. Think long and hard about what this venture is going to cost.
This is obvious advice, but it needs to be said: Don't invest more than you can afford to lose.
"Try to use other people's money," advises Gene Zaino, CEO of MBO Partners, a website that offers administrative services to independent consultants and small firms. "You're at a point in your life where you need to be protective of what you have, and as much as possible, avoid tapping into your 401(k) or retirement, or even your home line of credit."
But it's a delicate dance. The wonderful and terrible thing for many boomer entrepreneurs is that at this stage, you may well be sitting on a large nest egg. That's wonderful because those funds could be invested into a business that generates new income for you. But that's also terrible because you may be tempted to sink all that money you've saved into starting a business.