Midlife Entrepreneur Helen HandTwo Lives for the Price of One: Becoming a Midlife Entrepreneur

Either by choice or by changes in life circumstances, many people begin new careers or take on running their own businesses during the second half of life.  The exciting thing about becoming a midlife entrepreneur is that we bring to the new endeavor more life experience and greater self-awareness than we had when we made our first career choice.  Knowing our strengths and weaknesses, our must-haves and can’t stands, and what truly turns us on empowers us to take on the challenges of a new career with gusto and proficiency.
Fourteen years ago I took on the presidency of Colorado Free University.  The learning curve was steep and I credit my staff and the school’s teachers for helping me to acquire the knowledge needed to lead the school.  For those of you making a career change, my advice is:

  • Be sure that you have passion for what you’re doing. If you’re not deeply invested in the enterprise, it will be hard to marshal the energy and effort required.
  • Don’t wait to feel like you know what you’re doing.  You’ve learned all kinds of things along the way in life that you have stored away.  Take the leap; start doing the work and you’ll find you know a whole lot more than you gave yourself credit for.
  • Don’t fear failure. Expect it, accept it, and learn from it. Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself for the missteps.
  • Use all of the resources you have available.  People like to help others and they feel complimented when their expertise and wisdom are acknowledged.  Draw on colleagues or others in the field for knowledge and draw on family and friends for emotional support and encouragement.
  • Celebrate the new version of yourself that steps forward.   When we do one thing for a long time, the same parts of ourselves are exercised.  When we throw ourselves against new challenges and new experiences, the parts of ourselves that have lied dormant or undeveloped are awakened and brought back into the mix.

And remember, Colorado Free U can fill in the blanks of your education, giving you practical knowledge and skills you need to move forward.  You can also find inspiration, support and a good dose of fun that help to build resilience as you forge ahead.
Helen Hand became president of Colorado Free University in 2004.  Visit www.freeu.com to find all the classes to support you in business and in life.