Connect with us

Start-up Advice

The Unique Challenges Of Senior Entrepreneurship

Being an entrepreneur at any age comes with risks and payoffs.




Being an entrepreneur at any age comes with risks and payoffs. In today’s worldwide retirement crisis, it makes complete sense that seniors are showing real entrepreneurial spirit by setting up businesses.

However, do seniors experience unique challenges in this regard?

In this day and age, the rules have changed. The retirement age needs to disappear into extinction – in other words, go the way of the Dodo bird. Research shows that throughout the ages, you worked until you died, or until you couldn’t work any more. In 13BC Augustus paid Legionnaires a pension.

In 16AD Britain did same for their military officers. In 1684, the first civilian public servant got pensioned. The popular theory is that the Retirement concept originated in 1881, the brainchild of Chancellor Otto van Bismarck in Germany.

He introduced a well-orchestrated social insurance called the Reichstag social pension to assist the finances of nonworking older Germans. Initially 70 was the magic number chosen by Bismarck as the retirement age. This was changed to 65 sometime after Bismarck died.

Related: An Entrepreneurial Mindset – Why And How To Develop One

Today, 65 is the new-55. 65-year olds have a zest for life, plenty of stamina plus in many cases the inclination and the necessity to work. So it’s a hard call having your retirement age dictated to you.

In this country especially, 94% of South Africans need to augment their meagre pensions, particularly as one has to contend with an exorbitant cost of living that rises on what seems like a daily basis. And don’t forget that this is the time of life that many people can have the opportunity to embark on their second careers by fuelling their passion, work on their own terms, set their own schedule and/or use their skills for the greater good.

Regrettably, South African research is thin. However, American research and specifically the Kaufmann Foundation’s annual index of Entrepreneurial Activity demonstrates that the number of older American entrepreneurs is exploding. In the UK, research shows that 332,000 Britons aged 65+ started their own business in the last 12 months. There is no reason to think that the trend should be any different in this country.

Seniors worldwide are showing real entrepreneurial spirit by setting up businesses despite the failure of banks to lend them funds.

Is it foolhardy to start a business when you are a senior?

Research shows that people who are in the age bracket 55 to 64 have a higher rate of entrepreneurial success than those aged 20 to 35. 86 year old American, Bill Zinke puts this into a nutshell: “I believe that entrepreneurship is a particularly good fit for the older generation who have oodles of experience, knowledge, and skills. Which is why older people who create new businesses have a better rate of success in comparison to the younger generation”.

Senior entrepreneurs will go through the same challenges as their younger counterparts, but there are some unique challenges as well. And so, if you are a senior entrepreneurial wannabe, here are hints and tips to consider before you embark on what could be the journey of a lifetime.

Do you have a good business plan?


Does your idea solve a problem? No idea is too odd to find success. Is there a need for your product or service? Research your idea thoroughly and look at your competitors to see how they are doing. A good business plan will assist you in mapping out how to start and run your business successfully.

Building a business which is fuelled by your passion is a necessity – without it, you may battle to get through the highs and lows and this could affect your business overall.

Related: Free Business Plan Template Download

Evaluate your skills

If you need to beef up your business acumen – do it! It is critical to have the necessary skills in order to run your business? It’s all very well having the passion, and you can turn passion into profit, but you need the capability too.

If you don’t have the skills, another option is to outsource certain areas if you can afford it, or bring in talent to assist with the tasks you are not able to do.

How will you finance your start-up?

Number one rule – don’t gamble with your nest egg. Start with minimal investment. Consider how you will get funding or attract investors. If you can’t afford it, don’t invest money in a business and most importantly, use business revenue to grow your business – not your retirement savings. Understand the financial risks when undertaking to start a new business in retirement.

Learn to love technology

Don’t be challenged by technology – it’s easy (and addictive!) once you know how! Your mobile device could be your new pocket office! You will need to get on top of social media, online commerce, website management and other technical skills.

There are so many places out there that offer local courses or better still, get a grandson/granddaughter to teach you. Social media is most effective when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing.

Beef up your business acumen online through podcasts, webinars, e-books and YouTube videos. It actually starts becoming fun!

Use freelancers initially

While you are growing your business, consider looking for talented, independent contractors who can assist you with short- or long-term projects – a great way to assist you in managing costs in the beginning.

Related: From Freelancers to Entrepreneurs: How Christine and Warren Bernard Made the Jump

Use your network and connections


You probably know a lot of people, having been in the world of work for quite some time. Ask your connections in your network to assist you by giving you immediate access to potential customers – this will help you in the first instance to get your business off the ground.

Look after your assets

Protect your personal assets at all costs. Structure your business in such a way, that if you go down the road of failure, this does not impact on your precious retirement savings.

Don’t spend unnecessarily

Be frugal. The biggest and the best is completely unnecessary when it comes to office equipment, cell phones, websites or office space. Tune your mindset in to start small and grow with the business.

Time management

You thought you had the most challenging job of all in corporate?! Think again – running a business as a senior entrepreneur will very likely be the most challenging job of your life and it is probable you will need to commit to working harder than ever.

Align your business goals with your retirement lifestyle and ensure that this is something you want to do and you have the time to do it.

It is vital to construct a balanced approach to your life and time in retirement. If you battle with this, employing a business coach could go a long way in assisting you realise your goals.

Related: Why Time Management is Just a Waste of Time

Do you have the physical stamina to start a business?

Check out your health thoroughly before you embark on starting a new venture. Ensure you are in good shape to keep up with the demands of a new business especially during the start-up period. Do not let stress further impact your health.

In conclusion:

Starting and running a business in retirement is not for the feint-hearted. It’s a long, tough road and needs dedication, time, energy, patience, practice and money to succeed. It can take 1000 days or 3-5 years for a new business to become profitable. Senior entrepreneurs should start small, dream big and be willing to charter unknown territories. Stay young at heart, take on the daily challenges and be open to new ideas. Be a risk taker!

You will find that running a successful business is one of the most rewarding things you can do – physically, mentally and financially. Loving your work is key! Find something you would love to do, and don’t allow fear to stop you from achieving this dream, no matter your age. Viva Senior Entrepreneurs!


Marilyn Hallett is the Director of You’ve Earned It. You’ve Earned It is a niche website serving the fastest-growing demographic in South Africa - the over-60s – South African baby boomers, seniors, pensioners and retirees. With a major focus on savings, benefits and discounts to this age group, YEI has become an invaluable resource for seniors in this country

Company Posts

3 Companies With Memorable Slogans, And How To Create Your Own

Three companies that have enjoyed these benefits as a result of creating memorable business slogans are Nike, Carlsberg, and Apple. Let’s look at each one now.

Jeff Broth




A good slogan serves many valuable roles in business. First, it reinforces recognition of your brand. After hearing it a few times, your consumer instantly thinks of you when hearing it again. If it’s catchy enough, they may even find themselves saying or singing it in their head, reinforcing your brand even more.

Slogans also share a little bit about your company. For instance, if your slogan is funny, it says you have a sense of humor. If it contains your goal or mission, it tells the consumer what is important to you. Some slogans share the problems the company is trying to solve or the consumer its trying to help, making it easier to identify the target market.

Finally, a slogan sets you apart from your competitors. It differentiates you from all of the other companies who offer similar services to you. And if it’s memorable enough, it puts you ahead of them in your consumer’s minds.

Three companies that have enjoyed these benefits as a result of creating memorable business slogans are Nike, Carlsberg, and Apple. Let’s look at each one now.

Company #1: Nike – Just Do It


Though many people use Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan as a reminder that they can do amazing things if they just put their mind to it, its author, Dan Wieden, reports that this line actually has a grim beginning.

In fact, it was an idea he derived from a statement made by Gary Gilmore, a double murderer who, before being executed by a firing squad exclaimed, “Let’s do it!” Still, it has stuck in consumer’s minds and is undoubtedly one of the most memorable slogans of all time.

Related: Registering a Trademark

Company #2: Carlsberg – That Calls for a Carlsberg


Initially, Carlsberg’s slogan was ‘probably the best beer in the world.’ Many consumers came to know and love this slogan; however, in 2011, the company rebranded and created a new slogan: ‘That Calls for a Carlsberg.” The goal of this new slogan, according to CEO Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen, was to encourage the consumer to do good things and then enjoy a Carlsberg after as a reward for a job well done. Both have stuck in the minds of consumers, albeit with some discrepancy as to which one is most preferred.

Company #3: Apple – Think Different


Apple is a company known for thinking (and creating) outside the lines, so its ‘Think Different’ slogan fits it perfectly. According to Rob Siltanen, creative director and managing partner at the company that helped design this Apple pitch, though there are many accounts of how this slogan was created, its true inventor is Craig Tanimoto. Siltanen says that Tanimoto came up with the idea to use black and white photos of some of the most revolutionary people and events of all time and, atop each one, simply display the words ‘Think Different.’ Catchy, right?

Related: Smart Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses

How to Create Your Own Memorable Slogan

These are just three examples of how creating a memorable slogan can help your company get — and stay — in the minds of your consumer. So, how do you come up with this type of campaign?

One option is to get some of your company’s best talent together and see what slogans you can come up with. Have everyone submit one or two ideas and talk them out. See if any jump out at you and, if not, use them to inspire you to come up with even more possible ideas.

Another alternative is using a slogan generator. This enables you to come up with a simple, memorable slogan using keywords related to your brand. Just go through the list and of results and see which ones stand out. You could even pick your top two or three and let your social media followers vote as to which one you should select.

If you find yourself at a dead end and unable to come up with a memorable slogan, or if you lack the creativity or the time, you can also hire a marketing firm to help. Give them a little insight about your company and see what slogans they create. It may cost you some money to take this route but, as companies like Nike, Carlsberg, and Apple have taught us, a good slogan can really propel your brand.

Continue Reading

Start-up Advice

Dear Family And Friends Of Entrepreneurs…

Young entrepreneurs often struggle to establish their businesses as they are not getting the support they need. Sometimes it is not only the obvious support of financiers and supply change developers which is lacking –but also not having that critical “home-ground support” can negatively affect the success of your venture. How can family and friends support entrepreneurs?

Lusanele Mahlutshana




Entering the market as a newbie entrepreneur is a brave step, and having your family and friends share in your vision for success is critical.  Once you have convinced them that being an entrepreneur is in fact “a real job” – one that requires a lot more sacrifices and hard work than a salaried worker – you can continue to encourage them to support your journey, to ultimately share in your success.

Get a job

In some communities, being an entrepreneur is not recognised as a profession. Therefore, those who pursue enterprise development are seen as irresponsible or lazy as it is not regarded as ‘real’ employment. Societal pressure to attain certain material possessions thus prevents them from pursuing their true passion.

This kind of resistance discourages a lot of entrepreneurs, making their pursuit for success even more difficult.

Related: How To Deal With Unsupportive Friends And Family

Finding out who your real friends are

Financial support is the most obvious support needed by entrepreneurs due to a lack of capital and start-up funding, as well as irregular payments and long periods of being cashless due to procurement holdups and fluctuation in the market for your product or service. Not everyone will stick with you in these times – and that’s OK. You may end up finding out who your real friends are, and these are the people who will give you emotional and social support to keep you focused and motivated.

“I know a guy….”

Another issue is friends and family looking for discounted prices as they know the owner. This means that they don’t see the value of the product or service, nor do they respect the owner. By asking for products and services for free, or at a reduced price, they end up taking advantage of their relationship with the entrepreneur and do not financially support his/her the business.

Related: How To Immigrate With Your Family By Starting A Business In The UK

So, if you have friends or family who are business owners, set an example by supporting them in the following ways:

  • Be willing to pay the full price of the product or service offered.
  • Be kind when giving negative feedback – make sure it is constructive.
  • Compliment them on good products or service. Share positive reviews on your social media pages.
  • Share and promote their business among other people.
  • Be patient and willing to help them establish their businesses.

Be prepared to listen to their dreams, hopes and frustrations. Sometimes, they just need an ear to vent about a bad day. Support them with a word of encouragement to keep going.

Continue Reading

Start-up Advice

Why Embrace The Struggle?

Entrepreneurial success hinges on your ability to approach challenges with the right mindset.

Gil Sperling




Self-help and business coaching advice is littered with platitudes, which makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to know what they should take to heart. However, one universal truism that most successful entrepreneurs attribute to their success is their willingness and ability to endure the struggle.

It’s a lesson I learnt first-hand when building our ad-tech and Facebook Marketing Partner business, Popimedia. One of our sternest tests came when we moved into new premises and took on more staff to accommodate our exponential growth. Then, amid new and significant financial commitments, some of our pipeline never materialised.

It was at this time that my son was born, and our family had just moved into a new house. To preserve the business, we were forced into retrenchments and directors didn’t take a salary for a while. And, with a lower head count it became difficult to deliver on client deadlines. Needless to say, my personal and professional level of discomfort was at an all-time high.

We reviewed our operations and streamlined where we could. More importantly, though, the experience taught us a number of invaluable lessons.

Lesson #1: Reframe your context

Our leadership approach, our business mindset and our attitude needed to be drastically reframed.

There is a quote that has always stuck with me, which is: “The antithesis of comfort is struggle.”

Related: 6 Of The Most Profitable Small Businesses In South Africa

I believe a person is moulded by the way they deal with struggle. That’s why I’ve always been inclined to welcome a proverbial punch to the face, and use as a mantra the phrase, “comfortable being uncomfortable”.

Being “uncomfortable” forced Popimedia into rapid innovation – and it was this innovation that led to a sea-change in the business. We learned how to scale, how to improve service levels, how to do what we do better, faster, more efficiently.

As a result, and without increasing our staff complement, our year-on-year growth has topped 100%. What was, at the time, the business’s greatest challenge became its greatest ally, and our biggest lesson.

Lesson #2: Fail fast, and learn from it

Obviously, this approach is not about making life difficult for the sake of personal and professional growth. It’s about understanding what is: expecting it to be difficult and taking a constructive approach towards failure and struggle.

There is one guarantee in business: you will experience failures, and you will struggle.

Central to this is your ability to recognise your failures for what they are, and quickly. This allows for a rejigging of processes, attitudes, operations, and sometimes even objectives.

My personal attitude to failure was reframed by simple sales stats. I came to understand that rejection was inevitable – but when it does happen, it brings with it opportunities. I always ask: “Why don’t you want my product? How is it not meeting your needs?” This way, “failure” is transformed into an opportunity to better understand the market and my clients.

This feedback loop has proved crucial, and allowed us to become what we are.

As an entrepreneur, the pressure never ends and you’ll never ‘arrive’. At Popimedia, we’ve come to embrace every opportunity that takes us out of our comfort zone. Working through failure is the foundation on which the entrepreneurial spirit is forged. It is the willingness to try again following a rejection, or to keep grafting knowing that there’s no guarantee of a pay cheque at the end of the month.

And doing so with the ‘chutzpah’ – the sheer audacity – to endure the hardship through mental toughness and a passion for what you do, becomes your greatest asset, because when you get comfortable, you become complacent… and complacency will work you into irrelevance.

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.