Why in the world would anyone over fifty start a business? Gallup surveyed entrepreneurs over age fifty who began businesses later in life and found that 32 percent started their own ventures because it allowed them to be independent; 27 percent wanted to pursue their interests and passions; and 24 percent wanted to increase their income.
People over fifty are often seeking purpose. They share common characteristics like flexibility, a desire for lifelong learning, a certain amount of patience and Discipline. Disciplined people crave predictability. You instinctively impose structure on your world. You set up routines. You focus on timelines and deadlines. You break long-term projects into a series of specific short-term plans, and you work the plan.
Almost a quarter of all new entrepreneurs are ages fifty-five to sixty-four. Some form a consulting firm. Others open a restaurant, art gallery, dog-walking service, landscape firm, or tutoring company. Many pursue an idea they’ve had in the back of their minds for years.
Ask Stephen McCauley what it takes to start a business at fifty, and he’ll tell you Discipline. McCauley toyed with the idea of starting his own business for years. Then around fifty, he took the plunge. As a leader in two of the world’s largest and most distinguished public relations firms, he offered diversified experience in consumer marketing, corporate publicity, issues management, food, nutrition and promotions. After working for 28 years for those two global public relations firms, McCauley knew how to manage global teams and clients, but he had no idea how to run his own business.
The first thing McCauley did was write a business plan. People with the Discipline strength love structure and order. You prefer to have a plan and enjoy executing precise strategies. Disciplined people frequently look to control their environment, events, activities, and relationships. Part of this craving for order is because disciplined people have a great need for productivity and for maximizing results and are often big fans of “To Do” lists at work and home. Disciplined people create systems for organizing work and play.
Days later, McCauley launched the Ginger Network, offering communications advice to commercial food and nutrition clients. Today, he’s making as much money as he did when he was working for large companies, and he’s excited about all his projects.
Individuals with the Discipline strength must be careful not to miss moments of spontaneity. As counterintuitive as it seems, you benefit from learning how to “structure” spontaneity into your life—moments to do nothing but smell the roses and simply enjoy life.
Order comes naturally, which can be a helpful skill in a solopreneur. You feel that, in order to be successful, you have to follow a routine and make a habit of order in every aspect of your life. Because life is so structured, you need advance notice of changes in order to acclimate. A last-minute change, for instance, can be difficult and stressful.
So how do you turn Discipline into income? Let’s say you are an architect and want to pass the exam for LEED certification—a rigorous approach to sustainable building and design. What if you blogged about your studies, your challenges, and specific aspects of the certification process? What if you share your struggles, but also your successes, and in the process show others how to pass the exam as well?
Next, you put all of your blog posts together into a single manuscript, hire a great editor to polish the story, and turn the whole thing into an e-book you sell on Amazon for $50 a pop. Pat Flynn did something similar and earned $7,000 from his e-book in the first month of sales.
The point is to build a structure (your daily blog posts), and keep things organized (in this case, telling your story one day at a time). Next, seek out opportunities where structure exists. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, for example, offers a well-worn publishing platform for digital books. All you have to do is plug your manuscript into the platform and take advantage of the existing structure. Disciplined people love systems, so take advantage of that.
Disciplined people also love to check on things, so don’t hesitate to check as often as necessary to ensure your new book is being displayed and marketed as you like. Better, sign up for Amazon’s Marketing Services and put your marketing efforts on autopilot. Whether you’ve published one title or several, Amazon offers a soup to nuts marketing plan. Once set up, the system will promote your book alongside similar books and authors, feature new releases as soon as they publish, run continuous backlist campaigns to attract new readers, and even target readers by keyword, product, interest, genre, and author. If a reader searches for “LEED study guide,” your book shows up on the screen.
I’d also suggest you learn how to use a time-management system, or any system that gets the result you want. Amazon’s KDP takes less than five minutes to set up and your book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours. You earn up to 70 percent royalty on sales to customers in the US, Canada, and other countries. You keep control of your rights and set your own book prices. Not to mention that you can make changes to your books at any time.
Finally, create automated routines that help you follow through. One area to focus on is promoting your new book. KDP Select, for instance, allows you to offer the book free for five days (and while a free book won’t generate cash, it will boost your sales numbers) or discount it for up to seven days through a Countdown Deal, a limited-time discount promotion. You can also run promotions manually. But why bother? You love systems, so use them.
If you have the CliftonStrengths theme of Discipline, what does it look like? What are the routines and structures that help you get work done? Please share your comments below.
Not sure where you are and need some conversation around your unique strengths or building your business? Remember you can schedule your Ask Brent Anything call. Let’s talk about strengths.