Don’t Retire After Midlife Without Trying Entrepreneurship At Least Once
Thinking of retiring? Not yet should be your answer.
You might be thinking of hanging up the power suit and resigning yourself to a life of bridge and cruises. But you’ve still got plenty of time left and some great ideas knocking around in your head. In fact, you simply must give entrepreneurship a try for so many reasons. Allow Team Vippi to convince you.
At no point in history has monetizing your passion been easier. Trying something new, learning a new skill, or taking your hobby to the masses is outrageously simple now. Whatever your talent is, or even if you’ve just thought of a way to make extra bucks, there’s an entrepreneurial opportunity for that.
The barrier to entry is super low. There are sources of info for everything you need to get started, from funding to management.
And if you’re thinking, “oh, not another backyard businessperson,” silence those inner voices. There is always room for another entrepreneur. There’s no room for not doing it. Whether you are selling yourself, a product, or an idea, the only obstacle is your willpower.
Retirement might not be the answer for you. Wouldn’t you rather have fun, keep your mind engaged, and build a legacy? Retirement is long, and funds are never infinite. Entrepreneurship during retirement at least helps you keep revenue rolling in – on your terms.
Will I enjoy entrepreneurship?
The whole journey of entrepreneurship is amazingly enjoyable and puts you in several different driving seats simultaneously. At any one time, you could be CEO, Head of Operations, Chief Marketing Officer, Social Media Manager, and Chief Revenue Officer. And perhaps a plumber or craftsperson, too.
Entrepreneurship’s far less tedious than retirement. And more lucrative, too. This is not the salaried work of your past. It’s a high-stakes poker game where you control every hand at the table. Running a business is like a high school band where you play every instrument, except you actually make money.
You create the culture of your entity. Leadership starts and ends with you. That means:
- No office politics
- No unnecessary meetings.
- No micromanagement.
- Pizza Party in the office every Friday (Says who? Says you, that’s who!)
You might think you don’t have the skillset to make entrepreneurship fun or profitable, but this is the 21st century, baby – at the click of a button, you can outsource any type of expertise you don’t have.
Being in control does wonders for your mind and wellbeing, and a 2018 research review supported this, too. You’re using and exploring all of your abilities to their maximum potential without feeling stretched or drained. It’s an exhilarating feeling.
Of course, you’ll face nerve-wracking moments when your product isn’t selling fast enough, or your social media reach isn’t getting enough engagement. Instead of fretting, think of this as feedback from the market. Use it to redirect and reorchestrate your resources.
Examples of outstanding entrepreneurs
(We’re talking about sensitive financial information here, so the names have been redacted. But you also know several people making waves using just their intuition.)
Tasty, tasty profits
The business: One friend of Team Vippi has a cooking blog. She creates one recipe a week and uploads it to her site, alongside mouthwatering photos and relatable descriptions.
- She makes over $1.5 million in annual revenue from advertising alone.
- Her overheads run to $100k per year.
- She takes home $1.4 million every year – not bad for some ingredients and cooking times.
Our friend has received offers of $6 million to buy her business. (The irony that she has probably written a recipe for apple turnover is not lost on us – her business is ripe for the pickin’!)
Bulking up the bank account
The business: One gentleman we know reviews protein shakes for fitness-oriented millennials. He started this business in March 2020. (Wait a sec – that March 2020? You’d have to be incredibly brave or downright crazy to try that.)
He reviews each product and outsources professional copywriters to construct each article for about $30 per post.
- His site made $390,000 in advertising revenue since opening for business.
- To date, his overheads have been $30,000.
- He works 10 hours a week.
- He took home $360k during one of the most difficult financial years in history.
So what’s your excuse? We’ll wait.
Thought not. Let’s look at your approach and how to get started.
The spice of life: Types of entrepreneurship
There are so many different types of businesses. As such, there’s no single way to approach starting one.
- Trade goods and services. For example, you buy products from Alibaba and sell them on Amazon or Shopify. While you have the overheads of purchasing the products for resale, your profit margins are still likely to be more than 25%.
- Market your expertise (for example, coaching or consultancy). You can market your services over LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Securing clients might be tricky at first, but the outlay is very low – you are the product – and you could be looking at average profit margins over 80%, which is massive.
- Create an informational source, like a blog. There are ways to do this at low cost depending on how much expertise you have in compiling blog content and how cost-effective your outsourcing is. But average margins are over 70%. Not shabby. You can use WordPress or Wix to get started with minimum fuss.
- Invent a product. You don’t have to be Doc Brown, and there are sites that help inventors. Average margins are over 60%. Much of the initial outlay is in research and development. Once you’ve invented a valuable product, you can outsource the production and distribution of the product, and profit eventually outpaces the costs. The Academy of Inventors provides resources for getting an invention off the ground, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have a tool for finding patenting information here. Great Scott!
Watch the movie Joy, about the invention of the Miracle Mop, if you want to see how much a new product can capture the public imagination – and how much money it can make you.
If you don’t want to start a business from scratch and have enough money put aside, you can always buy an existing business. There’s a business for sale that matches every type of budget. You’re buying a ready-made, turnkey platform. (Turnkey simply means that the company is already fully operational and good to go as soon as you complete the sale.)
SBA loans can make this possible (see the “funding” section for more info), but that’s not the only way to buy a business if you don’t have the capital just sitting there. Seller financing is a serious option, too. The seller of the business provides a loan to the buyer to facilitate the sale.
This seems mad in principle (“Here’s some money! Buy my business!”) but can be pretty attractive to sellers. It makes their business more appealing to buyers, encourages a higher asking price, and cuts any third party from the picture, making the sale simpler and quicker.
On your side, it gives you a chance to buy the business without necessarily having the cash to hand. You can also remortgage your own home to buy a business (this is a super-risky option, but if the business is already generating revenue, this can be a sound investment).
Take a look at online businesses you can buy. They require far less attention than storefronts. Also, buying an online business means you can continue your day job and be an entrepreneur while hiring virtual employees to run your online venture for you.
So while there’s some risk, you can still get income from your day job and run an online business. You’re more protected than you might think.
Most online businesses for sale have great operational expertise, and you don’t have to start at the bottom. So yes, it’s a significant outlay at first – but the returns should start rolling in immediately.
DIY? More like don’t bother. Outsourcing can be vital to success.
When you run a business, not knowing how to do something should never be a roadblock. When you worked as an accountant for your salaried employment, do you think your boss could do what you did? Heck no.
You’ll find the expertise elsewhere. It’s so easy and cost-effective to outsource work nowadays that we’re surprised anyone does anything for themselves anymore.
The five best websites for outsourcing work include:
- Upwork: The Big Daddy of freelancer sourcing sites. Upload a job spec and watch the offers come in. You can pay by the hour or apply a set rate for the entire project. You can even build ongoing relationships with freelancers (if that’s what you want).
- Freelancer: This is Upwork’s main rival, which works in much the same way.
- Fiverr: All prices are per project and listed in multiples of five (from $5 to $500). Go for Fiverr when you need standardized services and quality isn’t an essential factor.
- Guru: This is superb for your IT needs. Most freelancers on Guru are based in the U.S. The platform even prompts you with a list of favored “Gurus” to save you the effort of searching. How thoughtful.
- FreeUp: Reasonable prices disguise a surprisingly high caliber of freelancers – they’re all pre-screened for quality, and less than 1% of applicants make it onto the site’s shortlist. When quality is vital, FreeUp should be your port of call.
It doesn’t grow on trees: Funding for entrepreneurs
The adage “you gotta spend money to make money” will always be true. However, there are several ways to source investment and funding. And, if your strategy and idea are sound, that money will be coming back to you many times over.
First and foremost: Put together a business plan using this advice from the Small Business Association. No investor worth their salt is going to give you their cash without seeing where it’s headed.
(You should have a business plan for your benefit, anyway, to provide an overview of your operation’s ins and outs. Understanding your operation is crucial for success.)
You can source funding from many places, including:
- An SBA loan: The Small Business Association can help connect your business with a loan. Not only that, but the rates will usually be competitive. They have a few requirements, like the company being legal, based in the U.S., and an investment of your own time and money. Learn more about applying here.
- Angel investors: These are private investors who put up the capital for your company in exchange for a stake in its profits and operation (around 25–60% return, usually). Angel investors might include friends and family, wealthy benefactors, and groups of investors called angel syndicates.
- Your savings. If you’ve been saving up for retirement but don’t plan to retire, put that money to work. It’s not “frittering away” your nest egg – if you’ve got a robust business plan and put in the work, this will be back in your account before you know it.
- Crowdfunding: Businesses in the U.S. raised nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars through crowdfunding in 2016. Think of crowdfunding as pre-orders based on the idea of your product. If your concept captures the public’s collective imagination, you can crowdsource the money you need through sites like GoFundMe in weeks.
- Your credit card: When push comes to shove, you have a pre-approved line of credit in the form of your credit card. It’s not ideal, but you need to make business purchases for which you don’t have the up-front capital, your plastic’s always there for you.
You’re an entrepreneur, not a rockstar. There’s still a process of repetition.
Nobody wins just because they have an idea.
Bear this in mind: Entrepreneurship requires repetition. You won’t succeed the first time round in anything – that’s a Team Vippi Guarantee!
The first investor you approach won’t invest. Neither will the second. The third will likely be a similar story. You’ll need to repeat the process with one investor after another until there is a meeting of minds.
Your first social media post won’t attract attention – so repeat the process. Be persistent and consistent. Adjust your approach a little, then try again. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Your first sales call might not result in a sale. The second may hang up halfway through a sentence. Who cares? Keep trying. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Do we have to keep repeating ourselves? It won’t be glamorous. It’s one company in a billion that explodes overnight. But with enough repetition, you’ll begin to see results. And with a suitable business model, those results will skyrocket.
All’s well that ends well: The benefits of entrepreneurship
The benefits of entrepreneurship are plentiful. Passive income, like buying a company, has the potential to develop into active income into which you pour time and love. It’s a lot less risky than retirement – plus, it’ll probably end up being better for your brain in the long run.
Your mind is occupied and creative, you are doing what you enjoy, and you are in control. It can be exceptional for well-being.
And if you build a new network of professionals like accountants, lawyers, and creatives, you’ll start getting recognized in your industry of choice. With recognition comes potential offers to buy your business.
You get the opportunity to become one of the leading lights in your industry by employing good PR people. You get to choose your team. Ultimately, if you delegate correctly and pick the right people, you can be the passive owner of a business earning you an active income.
You can do very little and get paid. It doesn’t get better than this.
5 reasons your business can succeed – and 5 more reasons it could fail.
Not everyone makes it. If they did, the market would get pretty overcrowded pretty quickly. However, you’ll want to make sure yours is one of the operations that succeed. A failed business is an opportunity for lessons, too – but an opportunity that will have eaten a lot of your time and money.
Here’s a quick summary of how businesses live or die. They’re far from the only factors in the success of your business, but they might help you nurture your strategy.
Why your business might succeed:
- Success was part of your game plan. You had a clear business plan, always took objective-led steps to help actualize that plan, and motivated your team because you knew success was an option.
- You were first to market. Being the first business with your particular niche or product angle can be a massive contributor to business success. People don’t flock to the second business that has the same idea.
- You built a robust network. You can avoid the pitfalls of trying to succeed alone. Instead, surround yourself with well-connected people who can link you with know-how, tools, resources, and leads.
- You’re resilient. You’ll have to take a few punches and keep pushing forward to see business success.
- Your product or service adds value to people’s lives. This is arguably the most critical factor. You have a product or service that people need (or are at least happy to tell themselves they need). Every other element of success is about bringing your product’s value to center stage.
Why it might fail:
- You’re a dysfunctional leader. Some people aren’t born to lead. If you constantly foster tensions in the office, make rash or poor leadership decisions, and don’t know where your business is headed next, it’s not a great recipe for success.
- Your product is worthless. You don’t provide a useful service. No amount of marketing, networking, or determination will paper over the fact that your product doesn’t add value to people’s lives. They’ll just choose a competitor.
- Your business model wasn’t geared toward maximum profit. There are plenty of business models out there, but some of them simply don’t offer a high enough profit margin to allow for reinvestment into the business. If your overheads are crushingly high or the price of your product is unsustainable, your business is doomed.
- You lost track of the money. It’s vital to hire a CFO who knows their trade or keep on top of accounts yourself. You have to know where every cent is going and that it’s both boosting your margins and driving you toward the business objective. If you’re crappy at finance, hire someone who isn’t.
- You tried to grow before you consolidated yourself. Overextending yourself helps nobody. If you don’t bring in enough money to fuel expansion or have a robust plan for doing so, don’t even think about trying to get bigger. Trees grow, and so do balloons – but only one of those bursts. Which will you be? Do you have strong roots, or are your plans mostly air?
So, you’ve decided to strike out on your own – a certified Team Vippi pat on the back for you. However, you feel overwhelmed by the task at hand, which is perfectly understandable.
First of all, breathe. You’ve got this.
Second of all, here’s a great list of online resources that can help you immerse yourself in the world of entrepreneurship.
(To make the most of it, you’ll need to download Slack, a business-oriented chat app. It’ll help you communicate within your business and also give you access to different threads and wider business communities. These can keep you informed and connected while you’re getting started.)
- Online Geniuses: This is a massive Slack community that takes a deep dive into the ins and outs of running a business. Online Geniuses also features Q&A sessions with industry leaders and opportunities to swap links or make guest posts.
- Lean Luxe: This takes the form of a newsletter and Slack channel. If your operation is consumer-facing, this can be an invaluable pool of knowledge.
- Product Hunt: If you’re selling a product, this may help you find early adopters. It’s a forum on which a community of like-minded business owners and makers curate the best new products. Could yours be one of them?
- Indie Hackers: This is a pool of startup advice and insider knowledge. The community at Indie Hackers knows their sh*t.
- Quora: To all intents and purposes, Quora is Q&A social media. People ask questions and get answers, and users rank answers on their usefulness. There are several startup-oriented threads to fuel your know-how.
- Facebook Groups: There will be a ton of industry-specific Facebook groups and communities you can join. The Problogger Community is pretty helpful across the board.
- Digital Marketing on LinkedIn: Well, obviously LinkedIn was going to join the chat. Digital Marketing is a group on LinkedIn that has 1,000,000+ followers and helpful contributors. This is a near limitless pool of knowledge about how to market your product.
- Facebook Ad Buyers: If the idea of social media marketing makes your skin crawl, fear ye not! This group can help you get to grips with targeted ad campaigns that drive traffic to your site and services.
While any number of communities and pages can be useful, be sure to build a network that can become your go-to resource. Make sure you have lawyers and accountants to hand. Surround yourself with people who are knowledgeable about your industry.
Your company will only thrive by tapping into the company you keep.
Before you retire from your life of taking home a paycheck, you have to try entrepreneurship. Midlife is the best time to try that – you’re at the peak of your powers. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
There’s near-limitless information and resources to support entrepreneurs, and you don’t have to fund it yourself. If you have a product that’s strong enough or a business model that’s lucrative enough, investment is a very viable option, too.
Go in with a plan. Add value to other people’s lives – and your own. Team Vippi has your back the whole time.
Kamo, M. (n.d.). 6 reasons your small business will fail (and how to avoid them). https://articles.bplans.com/6-reasons-your-small-business-will-fail-and-how-to-avoid-them/
Key crowdfunding statistics. (n.d.). https://www.startups.com/library/expert-advice/key-crowdfunding-statistics
Loans. (n.d.). https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans
Sanchez-Garcia, J.C., et al. (2018). Entrepreneurs’ well-being: A bibliometric review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6144423/
The definitive list of the best outsourcing websites. (2020). https://myva360.com/blog/the-best-outsourcing-websites
Write your business plan. (n.d.). https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan