For the stampede of senior startups, the list of new stuff to tackle is seemingly endless. Here’s how to keep the pressure down a bit.
Whether you’ve been busy raising kids, working for the man, driving trucks, digging holes or are used to your PA printing your electronic mail, the new world of work can be a daunting place for the more mature newbie. Let’s try and make it a bit simpler for older entrepreneurs.
1. Let go of the quest for computer mastery
If you’re coming to computers later in life, you’ll take little solace from the knowledge that technology is more accessible now than ever. After all you’re still at the foot of the mountain.
It’s all very well that the phone in your pocket has more computing grunt than Neil and Buzz used to land on the moon, but that doesn’t mean you need to understand it or make full use of it.
Go easy on yourself.
Instead, think about precisely what tasks you wish to undertake and set about learning how to do that and only that. The rest can come later. Most libraries run classes on computer basics and just about every techie sales assistant has learned that if they want to keep their job they need to be patient with us high-spending oldies.
I met with a woman in her early seventies recently who was so enthralled by the capabilities of her iPad Mini she kissed it before slipping it back in her handbag. Today’s computers are our friends and they really don’t mind if our commitment is a little superficial.
2. Stop fretting about a website
Not only did Steve Jobs sell squillions of dollars worth of stuff before he ever opened a shopfront, he even built and tested a full size store in a hangar before he signed his first lease. You too can likely get a fair few ducks lined up (even basted and roasted to perfection) before you commit to any permanent presence, online or off.
If you’re selling widgets and the like you’ll find eBay, Etsy, Gumtree and others make it pretty darn easy to test pricing, marketing and logistics. And test you should.
In the early days, politely ignore anyone trying to sell you a website and tell those droning on about social media that you’ve got more important things to do for the time being.
As Alberto Perez, the founder of Zumba said in an interview recently ‘when something is good, people find it’. And it’s true. Yes it helps if people know it exists, but frankly with 1.3 billion other websites out there, no one is twiddling their thumbs waiting for you.
At this stage, concentrate solely on nailing the profile of your ideal customer and get to understand them better. Talking and listening works best and you don’t need a website for either.
3. Ignore talk of failure, but wise up
Of the minority businesses that fail, the majority do so either because of the absence of anyone interested in buying (no ‘market need’), or the fact that it all gets too hard and the startup stops.
My solution for either is the same: Invest in your professional development.
One hundred bucks should cover it. No, really, that’s all.
Laughable right? $100. Who wouldn’t spend that? Well I’m here to tell you that hardly anyone does. I’ve met far more people who have spent thousands of dollars on schmick logos, shiny websites and fancy office fitouts than I have those who have worked out their weaknesses and done something about it.
Remember books? Business books contain the real world wisdom of someone who knows how to do what you don’t. They rarely cost more than $30 and you can scribble in them, tear out pages and learn more than you thought possible.
Spending three or four hours a week upskilling at the outset is far, far better than spending three or four nights a week worrying when it simply isn’t happening at the pace you imagined.
Finally, and in case you hadn’t noticed, the community here at Flying Solo are a very caring, sharing bunch of individuals.
If you’ve got queries, concerns or challenges post a comment or dive into the forums. It’s highly likely the hot flush of panic can be swiftly turned into the first flush of success.