Women Over 50 Are Starting Businesses Left and Right. Should You?

*Guest post by Lucy Reed

You’ve spent years in a career that doesn’t fulfill you, and frankly, you’re tired of it! Now that you’re getting older, you’re serious about spending your time in ways that count.

Does that sound like you? You’re not alone: Lots of women over 50 are chasing their entrepreneurial dreams now that they have the time, confidence, and financial capital to do so.

Why Women Over 50 Start Businesses

Some women start businesses out of necessity. Older women who have recently lost a job or who are reentering the workforce find themselves disappointed by job prospects and decide to create their own opportunity. Other women discover they finally have the time and energy for a passion project now that they’re older. And with fewer people depending on them, older women have more freedom to take risks and fully commit to a business.

The Traits of Successful Female Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. You have to be willing to take on financial risk, put yourself out there, and juggle a ton of responsibilities. For some people, it’s a role that comes naturally, while others have perfected the art of faking it until they make it. But if entrepreneurial traits like tenacity, dedication, and risk-taking aren’t in your playbook, business ownership might not be for you.

That doesn’t mean you have to be a cutthroat business woman or a natural salesperson to be a successful entrepreneur. Plenty of over-50 women start businesses in the nonprofit sector or become consultants and solopreneurs. However, whether you’re running a multinational corporation or a one-woman bookkeeping service, you need to be comfortable with marketing yourself and maintaining a public image.

Financial Considerations for Older Entrepreneurs

Starting a business can be a way to grow your income add to your nest egg after 50, but it’s no guarantee. Launching any business is a financial risk, and it’s even more so for women, who are likely to tap personal savings for startup capital. That’s because women entrepreneurs have a harder time than men raising startup capital for business ventures.

While it’s possible to tap retirement savings to start a business, the process is convoluted, and a mistake could lead to hefty IRS penalties. There’s also the risk that your business doesn’t succeed and the loss sets your retirement back years. Before going this route, explore other funding options like Small Business Administration microloans, alternative lenders, or even crowdfunding.  

Steps to Starting a Small Business

There’s a lot of work that has to be done before getting to the fun parts of business ownership, like building a brand and pitching your product or service. If you’re interested in starting a small business, take these steps to get started.

  • Assess the feasibility of your business idea. You have a great idea, but is it a profitable one? It doesn’t matter how much creativity or passion you have if you’re selling something no one wants to buy. Conduct research and surveys to evaluate who your target market is, what their needs are, and how much they’re willing to pay to have those needs met.
  • Obtain licenses and permits. The licenses and permits you need depend on the nature of your business. At minimum, you’ll need to register your business and file for an EIN.
  • Identify key partnerships. Strong networks make strong businesses. Establish relationships with suppliers, retailers, local businesses, and other partners who can help your business grow.
  • Create a marketing plan. Websites, social media, local marketing–today’s entrepreneurs have a lot of opportunities to get their ideas in front of an audience. Before launching campaigns, determine which marketing channels are best for your target audience.

There’s no expiration date on entrepreneurship. Whether you’re 26 or 55, if you have a good idea, you can turn it into a profitable business venture. While starting a business after 40 can feel like a leap of faith, sometimes that leap is just what you need to bring purpose and passion to your life.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–look before you leap.

*Lucy Reed has been starting businesses since she was a kid, from the lemonade stand she opened in her parent’s drivway at age 10 to the dog walking business she started while in college. She created GigMine.co because she was inspired by the growth of the sharing economy and wanted to make it easier for entrepreneurial individuals like herself to find the gig opportunities in their areas.

They Gave So Much For Me To Vote–I Have An Obligation To Let My Light Shine

Women were not always able to vote, and even when they were given the right to vote it was only for white women.  Native American women were the next group of women given the right to vote.  Some 32 years after women were given the right to vote Asian women were allowed to cast their ballot.  It took 44 years for African American women to be given the opportunity to do the same.

As an African American woman of a certain age, I owe all of these women for giving me the right to vote.  There are many men who I also must remember, but on this day I remember Fannie Lou Hamer who was “sick and tired of being sick and tired”.  She made it possible for my grandmothers, mother, and aunts to have the opportunity to cast their ballot, and they did.  I owe it to all of the women who fought, lost homes, husbands, children and even their lives for me to cast my ballot every time there is an election.

Take a moment to listen to Fannie Lou Hamer as she speaks before the Democratic National Convention in 1964.  The full written transcript is below. I owe so much to Mrs. Hamer and her peers.  She was put out of her home and beaten all for trying to register to vote. Through all of this, she continued to always sing her favorite song “This Little Light of Mine”. The debt can never be repayed.

Mr. Chairman, and to the Credentials Committee, my name is Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, and I live at 626 East Lafayette Street, Ruleville, Mississippi, Sunflower County, the home of Senator James O. Eastland, and Senator Stennis.

It was the 31st of August in 1962 that eighteen of us traveled twenty-six miles to the county courthouse in Indianola to try to register to become first-class citizens. We was met in Indianola by policemen, Highway Patrolmen, and they only allowed two of us in to take the literacy test at the time. After we had taken this test and started back to Ruleville, we was held up by the City Police and the State Highway Patrolmen and carried back to Indianola where the bus driver was charged that day with driving a bus the wrong color.

After we paid the fine among us, we continued on to Ruleville, and Reverend Jeff Sunny carried me four miles in the rural area where I had worked as a timekeeper and sharecropper for eighteen years. I was met there by my children, who told me the plantation owner was angry because I had gone down — tried to register.

After they told me, my husband came, and said the plantation owner was raising Cain because I had tried to register. And before he quit talking the plantation owner came and said, “Fannie Lou, do you know — did Pap tell you what I said?”

And I said, “Yes, sir.”

He said, “Well I mean that.”

Said, “If you don’t go down and withdraw your registration, you will have to leave.”

Said, “Then if you go down and withdraw.”

Said, “You still might have to go because we’re not ready for that in Mississippi.”

And I addressed him and told him and said, “I didn’t try to register for you. I tried to register for myself.”

I had to leave that same night.

On the 10th of September 1962, sixteen bullets was fired into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Tucker for me. That same night two girls were shot in Ruleville, Mississippi. Also, Mr. Joe McDonald’s house was shot in.

And June the 9th, 1963, I had attended a voter registration workshop; was returning back to Mississippi. Ten of us was traveling by the Continental Trailway bus. When we got to Winona, Mississippi, which is Montgomery County, four of the people got off to use the washroom, and two of the people — to use the restaurant — two of the people wanted to use the washroom.

The four people that had gone in to use the restaurant was ordered out. During this time I was on the bus. But when I looked through the window and saw they had rushed out I got off of the bus to see what had happened. And one of the ladies said, “It was a State Highway Patrolman and a Chief of Police ordered us out.”

I got back on the bus and one of the persons had used the washroom got back on the bus, too.

As soon as I was seated on the bus, I saw when they began to get the five people in a highway patrolman’s car. I stepped off of the bus to see what was happening and somebody screamed from the car that the five workers was in and said, “Get that one there.” And when I went to get in the car, when the man told me I was under arrest, he kicked me.

I was carried to the county jail and put in the booking room. They left some of the people in the booking room and began to place us in cells. I was placed in a cell with a young woman called Miss Ivesta Simpson. After I was placed in the cell I began to hear sounds of licks and screams. I could hear the sounds of licks and horrible screams. And I could hear somebody say, “Can you say, ‘yes, sir,’ nigger? Can you say ‘yes, sir’?”

And they would say other horrible names.

She would say, “Yes, I can say ‘yes, sir.'”

“So, well, say it.”

She said, “I don’t know you well enough.”

They beat her, I don’t know how long. And after a while she began to pray, and asked God to have mercy on those people.

And it wasn’t too long before three white men came to my cell. One of these men was a State Highway Patrolman and he asked me where I was from. And I told him Ruleville. He said, “We are going to check this.” And they left my cell and it wasn’t too long before they came back. He said, “You are from Ruleville all right,” and he used a curse word. And he said, “We’re going to make you wish you was dead.”

I was carried out of that cell into another cell where they had two Negro prisoners. The State Highway Patrolmen ordered the first Negro to take the blackjack. The first Negro prisoner ordered me, by orders from the State Highway Patrolman, for me to lay down on a bunk bed on my face. And I laid on my face, the first Negro began to beat me.

And I was beat by the first Negro until he was exhausted. I was holding my hands behind me at that time on my left side, because I suffered from polio when I was six years old.

After the first Negro had beat until he was exhausted, the State Highway Patrolman ordered the second Negro to take the blackjack.

The second Negro began to beat and I began to work my feet, and the State Highway Patrolman ordered the first Negro who had beat to sit on my feet — to keep me from working my feet. I began to scream and one white man got up and began to beat me in my head and tell me to hush.

One white man — my dress had worked up high — he walked over and pulled my dress — I pulled my dress down and he pulled my dress back up.

I was in jail when Medgar Evers was murdered.

All of this is on account of we want to register, to become first-class citizens. And if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off of the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?

Thank you.

There are so many others to thank, to them I can say

I voted 1

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”  you have a privilege that many before you didn’t. Honor them by casting your ballot, and letting your light shine.