Have you ever considered yourself too old to be an entrepreneur? Do you believe that starting a new business is too much of a risk for a middle-aged person? And have you ever abandoned an idea for building your startup because you were afraid of a mid-career change?
Well, Rick Terrier has got some advice for you. 'Ageless Startup: Start a business at any age', reads the title of his latest book, published in 2020 by Entrepreneur Publication. One thing that can be said about that title is that it goes straight to the point regarding its goal. Just as anyone can surmise from the title, Ageless Startup is a guidebook for those people who seek to overcome the age barrier when it comes to building a startup of their own.
Entrepreneurial ventures and startups have turned into twenty-first-century buzzwords which are thought by many to be something reserved for the young generation rather than the old. Many older people believe entrepreneurship to be a scary platform meant for 20-year-old future billionaires which, as Rick Terrier shows in his book, is far from the truth.
Actual figures tell a fascinating tale. In the US, 26.13 percent of the new entrepreneurs came from the age group 45-54 and 25.46 percent were from the age group 55-64, together making up a staggering 51.59 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2016! This happened over the last two decades as older people have joined entrepreneurial projects in greater numbers.
The author cautions everyone against having age prejudices when it comes to beginning a startup. He believes that people can begin startups even if they are in the second half of their lives, which he thinks starts from the age of 40.
That being said, this book is a holistic approach to entrepreneurship and is meant to be read by everyone, not just a particular age group. It argues that the first thing entrepreneurs need to do is give themselves 'permission', which is a personal question for the aspirants. Everyone must become comfortable in their own skin (or business in this particular instance) to be successful. If not, they must change their 'skin' to something that they are comfortable in.
The mantra that drives entrepreneurs in the current world is to go out there and start as soon as possible after testing the market. It involves providing a service that many need and is yet to be established. But the author argues that the 'go fast' approach could be modified according to the particular people who are engaging in these startups. Someone older than 45 might find it easier if he/she takes it slow at first while transitioning into the life of an entrepreneur.
Rick Terrier vehemently opposes the abrupt jump into a new venture particularly because it could be disastrous for many. Rather than just walking out of a job or leaving everything behind, he proposes a carefully thought-out plan to go from 'working for somebody' to 'working for oneself'. He also suggests that at first, the aspirants should start slow and small which could mean the business will be run by the entrepreneur himself/herself without any additional staff.
A figure sheds some light on that. Out of 32 million businesses active in the US currently, 25 million businesses are run by a single person! Therefore an entrepreneur should start small and expand the business should the opportunity or need arises.
Terrier also provides examples of various instances regarding startups, both from his personal life and from others. He talks about his friend Glen Ford who had a long career with Fortune 100 companies; when Glen started a food project with Rick Terrier, he changed his approach to make the startup a success.
The author quotes his friends who said, "…Don't take small business for granted because you were once a big company executive. While a small business may have less revenue than your previous role, it's dramatically different and harder in entrepreneurship. You have to create the momentum in a company and be able to fend off reputations created and decades of work that came before you."
Rick agrees with the statement wholeheartedly. While he acknowledges that there is nothing 'especially hard' regarding startups, it is generally hard work.
The book also suggests that entrepreneurs "minimise the risk and maximise the value". Since many things could go wrong, the entrepreneurs should also have a built-in exit strategy in the business should things go south.
However, one of the major drawbacks of this book is its US-centric approach. Specifically, while many examples that Rick Terrier talks about here regarding startups are encouraging and enlightening, they are taken from American society and deal with the American market's realities.
But then again, it can be educational for many around the world. The author details his own experience in entrepreneurship. He, with the help of his wife, started his first startup that provided services on graphics designing and ran it for 25 years. Rick mentions that he was always concerned with the basic information of what is in demand in the market that others are not willing to do.
The author gives the readers glimpses into successful business ventures and how he managed to build seven businesses over the years. He cautions that the entrepreneurs must think straight regarding their business. Things or services that are not in demand or cannot be repeated are not sustainable, therefore should not be a business.
He also advises against knee-jerk decision-making and emotional approaches, which can be detrimental, and rather advocates a realistic approach for entrepreneurs.
In the end, the book provides an overall view of how businesses can successfully be built and how one can transition into the life of an entrepreneur at any point in his or her life. The book should prove to be an enjoyable and fruitful read for any person interested in entrepreneurship. It may also help aspiring entrepreneurs to finally shake off any fear they have and finally start their businesses thanks to the author's encouraging ideas and thoughts.
"It's not hard, it's just new", he says.