What’s Life Like As a 50+ Business Owner?

Latest posts by Jeff Williams (see all)

If you’re like a growing number of Boomers, you’re quite interested in exploring starting your own business.

But running a small business seems so different from what you’re used to in the corporate world, that you may be wondering: “What exactly is life like when you run your own business?”

There is some variation in daily routine between different types of businesses, but most share the traits listed below.

  • You set the schedule for each day. People in typical corporate administrative jobs often face a more rigid schedule of meetings and  in-office work.
  • You won’t gain absolute freedom from reporting to a superior. Your new “bosses” will be your customers – but see the next bullet point.
  • Unlike the corporate world where you generally cannot choose your boss, you can often choose your customers so that you select people with whom you enjoy working.
  • You can choose a type of business that typically has employees (such as a retail business), or you can create a “virtual company” that relies upon outside contractors for needed assistance rather than employees.
  • All problems end up on your desk, no matter who else may have caused the problem. If you have been a divisional executive, you are experienced at handling problems quickly. But some corporate employees become used to passing problems onto support departments.
  • You must respond quickly to customer needs, demands and problems, because this responsiveness is often why your customers agreed to buy from you in the first place. As a result, you often must make decisions based on incomplete information.
  • It has been said that one of the traits of successful entrepreneurs is that they are comfortable with “ambiguity” – unclear circumstances.
  • You will have to fight the tendency to think about your business every waking hour of the day. You must learn the difference between dedication and obsession.
  • You will sacrifice leisure time in the beginning. If you have been working 60+ hour weeks, chances are good that you had to give up the bowling league a long time ago. During your first year in business, you may have to also give up your family trip to Disney World.
  • You will have to become somewhat proficient in a variety of management skills (we will discuss these in detail later). Although as your profits grow, you can hire outside contractors to do more of the work for you.
  • You will have to take some financial risk. It is not uncommon for business startup expenses to total $10,000 or more. Your investment in the business during its first year can easily exceed $30,000 if you are truly trying to grow the business.
  • Because you will likely have to give up some things you enjoy during the first couple years of your new business, it is very important that you start a business you enjoy, or you will become resentful about the demands on your life.
  • Your income can be quite unpredictable in the beginning. It is not uncommon to go from an $80,000 corporate salary to a $30,000 owners draw your first year.
  • Since you cannot realistically cut your family living expenses by much, the difference between your old salary and your new self-employment income will have to be made up by investing your savings, borrowing money or a combination of both. This is part of the financial risk you take to do “your own thing”.
  • You are paid by your customers partly for your ability to stay up with the latest solutions to their problems. This demands that you continually acquire new knowledge and learn new skills.





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