Over 50 Entrepreneurs: How to Start a Web Business That Matches Your Skills

Isn’t it strange. After working 30 years and building up a remarkable set of skills, suddenly no-one needs you?


Creative Commons License photo credit: desbyrnephotos

Every year 1000s of hard-working men and women lose their jobs… and then what? As  I head into my mid-forties, I’ve found the web the most lucrative way to make a living and support my family.

It’s taken time but, now that I’ve carved out a niche for myself I’m more comfortable with this arrangement. My family are also convinced, something they were a bit skeptical about when I started. But when the checks started to arrive, the skepticism started to fade away.

Why there are no shortcuts to a successful web business?

I get emails most weeks asking for advice – or shortcuts – on the best way to start a living working online. To be honest, I’ve found no shortcuts. Maybe there are some but I haven’t seen them recently.

Think about it. How could there be any shortcuts?

  • When you went to college… was there a shortcut to learning Math?
  • When you learnt to swim… was there a shortcut that magically got you doing breast-strokes?
  • When you cook a Sunday roast… is there a shortcut that gets it cooked in 20 minutes?

Ok, sometimes there are. But, the things in life that are worth acquiring usually involve effort. Real effort.

And, to me, this is a blessing.

Why?

Because it means that if you apply yourself and make the effort, then in time it will work. It has to work. It’s also what guarantees that you’re business will stay in business while others fail.

Effort = Rewards.

I bet that anyone over 40 reading this knows that true. There are no shortcuts.

I have an Idea! Where to Start?

So, we both agree that if you want to run a web business (or a business over the web, which we’ll explain later), you need to accept that a certain amount of effort is involved.

How long will it take?

I’d be lying if I gave you an answer as it depends where you are, what you can offer, and how you apply and re-apply yourself to you web business.

Sometimes I work 10 hours a week, other times I work 70. But it’s never a grind in the way that office work used to be because you know that there is a reward and it’ yours to take.

Why The Web Suits Over 50s For Business

Let’s say you’re 55. You’ve worked as a:

  • Home-maker
  • Accountant
  • Team leader
  • Admin Assistant
  • Project Manager
  • Line Manager
  • Carpenter
  • Nurse
  • Driver

…and other things in between.

For most of us, the years between 20-50 include a range of ‘jobs’ that never appear on our CV. And many of these have provided you with the raw material for your web business.

Indeed, this raw material is the ‘content’ that drives your web business. (A good friend worked as a driving instructor for many years. Now his site offers tips on good driving techniques and helps folks pass them driving exams. He’s building on the knowledge he had accumulated over twenty years. With that at our disposal, we simply had to package it in the right way.)

The other thing is that you now know what you Don’t want to do.

As you get older, things  get clearer. Your priorities change. Things simplify themselves.

This clearness of vision is a huge advantage for web entrepreneurs as they can stay focussed and ignore the distractions that unbalance younger folks.

Thirdly, you have the commitment to make this happen that you didn’t have when younger. Again, getting old is like climbing a mountain. The higher you get, the better the view.

So, you have three things in your favor:

  • Experience
  • Vision
  • Commitment

What’s the Difference Between Web Business v Business Over the Web?

The terms are used so interchangeably that it’s easy to get mixed up. But, to be clear about it:

Web Business focus on selling digital items, information products and downloadables. These business use the web to share, distribute and offer products/services over the web. Classic examples are:

  • ebooks
  • educational materials
  • mp3s
  • mastermind groups
  • forums
  • market research
  • productivity tools
  • plugins
  • WordPress themes

Business Over the Web?

Whereas if you have a shop in the high street, say Gourmet Foods or a specialist Whisky Shop, you can use the web to attract new customers, increase sales and offer affiliate fees to others who promote your site.

My focus on this site is on web businesses where you run your ENTIRE business online.

What Type of Web Business Would Suit You?

Before we jump into running a web business, let’s consider some other points:

  • Investment – while there are few overheads to setup a web business, you need to budget some money towards the basics, such as web hosting, newsletter software, and some essential tools that you’ll need as your site becomes more successful. Yes, there are oceans of free stuff out there but there’s also stuff the actually works 🙂 I use free stuff where possible and pay for the best products, such as Aweber and video-making tools like Camtasia.
  • Technology – the technical side of running a web business has never been easier. And, if the something trips you up, say customizing your blog’s theme, use oDesk to find a freelance designer. Business is time v money. Don’t spend your time on activities that drain your energy. I’ll show you how to outsource the basics so you can focus on more valuable activities.
  • Success Criteria – it’s important to define for yourself what constitutes a successful web business. For example, if our aim is to make $1000 per month after 6 months, then let’s shoot for that and be grateful with the results. If our aim is enough to pay off the mortgage, then let’s work on that.

I’ve found that if you can set a target amount you want to make, then it concentrates your efforts in that direction. Otherwise, you’re trying to run a business but it all becomes vague.

  • It is working?
  • Should I have more subscribers to my newsletter?
  • Should I give up and look at another area?

In the coming weeks, I’ll give you examples of the different types of businesses that suit over 50s (and under 50s can run with these ideas too). Some are obvious, whereas others you may not have thought of.

Before We Start

Before I do that, there something you can do to get started.

Make a list of the three things that give you the most pleasure in life. Maybe it’s taking care of animals, coin collecting, photography, classic cars, embroidery, dtp, ceramics, musical instruments or another field.

Then type the name of that field and the word Blog (for example, Coin Collecting Blog) into Google and see what comes back. What may surprise you are the number of people already running web businesses about these fields.

But here’s the next step.

Then go to Google and type in the topic you are really in love with AND the word eBook.

These are the folks making money from this topic!

And how they do it is what we’ll look at next week.

PS – add the topic you look at in Google in the comments below and we’ll focus on those.

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