Do you tell yourself that you are ‘too old’ to start something new? Do you think you’ve reached an age when you should just settle for the life you have? Do you have a business idea but think it’s too late to take such a risk? Suzanne Noble and Rose Rouse are women behind Advantages Of Age, a website that is challenging the depressing age story and promoting feeling great at any age. I asked them how they got started and their top tips for starting a business in your 50s or 60s.
1) What made you start the Advantages Of Age website?
Suzanne: The idea sprung from a conversation in my hot tub! Rose and I were talking with a couple of our female friends, both in their 50s, about sex, culture, what was going on in the news. It struck us that these conversations were not being represented in the mainstream media where all we ever seemed to read about was anti-ageing creams and menopause. We were determined to change that and so Advantages of Age was born.
Rose: I’m in my 60s and I get bored with the bland and negative way that people my age are portrayed. I was in my 20s during both the Hippie and the Punk eras, both influenced my way of seeing the world in a more individual and idiosyncratic way. Advantages of Age for me, is about presenting other choices – to the Saga and ubiquitous stair lift adverts – there are so many people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s living their lives in a much wilder fashion. This is so that they too get a voice on the Age stage.
2) What was your biggest fear when getting started?
Suzanne: I think it’s true to say that neither Rose and I had really seriously considered what we were doing; we just did it! We never wrote a business plan. Fear didn’t really come into it.
Rose: Yes, I agree. We were enthused with the notion of positive ways to portray ageing, and we dove straight in.
3) What were your biggest setbacks?
Suzanne: Well, knock on wood, so far we haven’t had any major setbacks. We are both lucky in having lots of fabulous and talented friends, mainly writers, journalists and poets, who were happy to contribute articles to the site from the beginning.
Rose: Facebook is a terrific source of some of the curated content which we feature on the site too. There are lots of writers out there who are no longer covered in the mainstream magazines and newspapers. Sex, Relationships and Death are particular areas of interest and taboo-breaking when it comes to age, and we’re right there knocking down the walls.
4) What has been the most gratifying experience along the way?
Suzanne: The response from our friends and the general public. We’ve been amazed at how quickly we’ve been able to get subscribers to our newsletter (2500 in about 2 months). We’ve even been offered investment. Many of the articles have been shared multiple times on social media and one was even lifted and reused in the Daily Mail. It definitely feels as if we’re onto something!
Rose: Feeling that we’re part of the zeitgeist around age. I was around when ground-breaking magazines like The Face and ID started, they brought with them new perspectives and visions for young people in the 80s, we’re the doing the same for older people who’ve still got attitude and don’t want to succumb to slippers all day! And there’s a lot of us out there.
5) What tips would you give to someone who has an idea but might think they are too old to start a new project or build a business?
1. Be realistic. With age often comes more financial freedom. Do you really want to work 8-10 hours a day running a full-time business or you would prefer to do something that provided you with a smaller income and didn’t take so much time? Think carefully about how you would like to spend your later years and if you really have the energy and enthusiasm that running a new business requires.
2. Do what you love. Running a new business requires 100% commitment so make sure that whatever you do, it’s something you really love and can see yourself doing for at least 3-5 years, the time it takes to get a new business off the ground. Perhaps you spent your career in a job that provided you with an income but didn’t provide you with much in the way of intellectual or creative stimulation. Don’t be afraid of starting a business in your 50s or 60s. Now is the time to do what you’re passionate about!
3. Get used to doing everything. If you’ve always had a corporate job then it’s likely you’ve had support staff throughout your career. Unfortunately, if you’re running a new business it’s likely you’ll find yourself taking letters to the post office, doing your own bookkeeping, making all the calls. It can be a real shock so be prepared to spend a lot of time doing all the small things that you used to have others do for you.
4. Choose a partner carefully. If you are going to work with someone else, make sure that your roles are clearly defined and do not overlap. Set up a company structure that takes into account your roles, responsibilities and how much money you’re each putting into the business. This is especially true if you choose to work with friends. It’s easy to get carried away in the early days and want to split everything 50/50 but that’s not always fair, especially if one of you still has a full-time job and the other doesn’t.
5. Make time for yourself. It’s easy to drive yourself into the ground when you’re starting a new business but I really believe that the ones who succeed are focussed and disciplined. This is especially true for older entrepreneurs who may be more prone to illnesses as a result of working too hard!
Suzanne Noble and Rose Rouse are founders of Advantages Of Age.