Five Steps to Set the Stage for an Entrepreneurial Encore

By on July 1, 2011

business woman sitting at deskBy Donna Kastner –

Boomers are known for their hard work, drive and persistent climb UP the corporate ladder. But for some of us, we’re looking for a graceful way to climb back DOWN that ladder.

“Midlife crisis is getting to the top of the ladder, only to discover it was leaning against the wrong wall.” – Joseph Campbell
Many are dreaming of a next career stage where they launch their own business. An entrepreneurial encore, so to speak. Some strive for a more perfect balance of work, family, and leisure pursuits. Others long to repurpose and repackage a lifetime of experiences to do something more meaningful and fulfilling.

The entrepreneurial route is an exciting one, but it’s not for everyone. That said, we’re definitely experiencing a surge in successful boomer business launches. If you’re considering this option, here are five steps you can take right now to explore and set the stage for your own encore
success story:

1. Identify Your Strengths
Here’s my theory: Everyone gets three to five God-given strengths. Those who figure out what these are early in life get a jumpstart on the success track. As for the rest of us, we often take a more circuitous route. Strengthsfinder 2.0 is a wonderful book to help you zero in on exactly what you do best. The book comes with a code for an online assessment, with an instant report back about your 5 Signature Strengths.

2. Study the Marketplace
Now that you have a good handle on your talents and strengths, it’s time to match these up with marketplace needs. Start studying your market and your potential customers.

Will you be selling to businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C)?
If B2B, list customer attributes (e.g., location, industry, number of employees, revenues, etc.)
If B2C, list customer attributes (e.g., location, income, age, education, interests, etc.)

Who are your competitors? Run a few Google searches using keywords your customers might use to find a vendor. Study the competition, particularly how they communicate value, and how they differentiate themselves from others.

Another great resource is SCORE. This non-profit has helped more than eight million aspiring entrepreneurs. They have a team of experienced business counselors who can provide free business mentoring, either online or in person at any one of 350+ chapter offices.

3. Capture and Grow Your Network
Boomers have at least four decades of networking experiences, dating back to those humble beginnings in childhood. From friends, neighbors, and classmates, to co-workers, bosses, and mentors, there could be hundreds of connections. Start making a list and reach out to revive those connections. With Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s never been easier.

4. Embrace Technology
A friend recently said, “I use computers all day at work. The last thing I want to do when I get home is turn on my computer.” While I can appreciate the sentiment, that’s like saying “I use electricity all day at work. The last thing I want to do when I get home is turn the lights on.”

Technology is definitely a business start-up accelerator. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t despair. Start with small steps, but keep at it. As for software training, take a look at Lynda.com. They have step-by-step tutorials covering hundreds of topics.

Social media is another boon for business start-ups, but once again, it can be overwhelming. Latch on to those who are using it well and watch what they’re doing. There are also plenty of free and low-cost webinars to help you learn more.

5. Map Out Your Plan
If you’re still deliberating, that’s fine, but start getting those ideas and plans on paper. Without a plan, you’ll get stuck. Without a plan, you’ll wander. Without a plan, you’ll never get around to actually DOING. With a plan, next steps become much clearer and energizing.

Here’s to YOU and best wishes as you move ahead with your own encore plan!

Professionally, Donna Kastner is an author, editor, sales trainer, blogger and people connector. Personally, Donna is a mom, wife and friend. Donna leads Enlighten 123, a sales and management performance development practice. Ever the innovator, through Retirepreneur, she’s also helping boomers to explore if starting a business might be their best segue to retirement. You can reach Donna through her websites: http://www.enlighten123.com/ and http://www.retirepreneur.com/.

 

About Donna Kastner

Professionally, Donna Kastner is an author, editor, sales trainer, blogger and people connector. Personally, Donna is a mom, wife and friend. Donna leads Enlighten 123, a sales and management performance development practice. Ever the innovator, through Retirepreneur, she's also helping boomers to explore if starting a business might be their best segue to retirement. You can reach Donna through her websites: www.enlighten123.com and www.retirepreneur.com

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Five Steps to Set the Stage for an Entrepreneurial Encore