When Shweta Jhajharia’s father turned 50, he was at the peak of his career managing one of the world’s leading metal producers. Ten years later, as he left the role for his first ‘retirement’, he carried with him the same passion he had always had for personal growth along with the years of wisdom. Today, at the age of 67, he has completed his Ph.D and is Head of Department at a leading Engineering College.
His remarkable achievements got Shweta, founder of The London Coaching Group, thinking: A lot of us look at aging as a natural burden and have a strange expectation that we need to stop working and stop producing great things when we reach a certain age.
However, as Vivek Wadhwa says, “ideas come from need; understanding of need comes from experience; and experience comes with age.”
While the glamour of the entrepreneurial world often goes to people like Mark Zuckerberg, the reality is that experience does make you a better businessperson. A study at Duke University examined 539 technology ventures and the results showed that there is double the number of successful entrepreneurs over 50 as there are those who are under 25.
Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals at age 76. The original creator of Coca-Cola founded the company with his reformulated beverage (replacing the cocoa with sugar) at 55. Colonel Sanders job-hopped most of his life and then at age 65 cashed his social security check and created the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. Ray Kroc, the guy who made McDonalds what it is today, only bought the business from the McDonald brothers when he was 59.
With so many examples out there of seniors taking the business world by storm, it is surprising that the general thought processes in our society still seem to be that business growth is for the young. Shweta, on the other hand, has always maintained that a large part of business growth is consistent repetition of what already works, something that experience teaches you.
As a business coach, Shweta often finds that her more seasoned clients are some of the best to work with – when they have seen how business works, they are really aware of when to push themselves and when to ask for help. They are keenly aware of their strengths, and they know when an outside eye will help them achieve the next level in their business.
Best of all, senior entrepreneurs know that talk is cheap. Action is what gets results and they know that they have to implement changes in their business, not just talk about it. The main qualifier that separates successful senior entrepreneurs from those in the ‘shutting down’ mode is their quest for growing, doing things that they have not done before and believing that they can be more successful than they have ever been.
Shweta suggests, that if you are nearing so-called “retirement age” then it may be time to revisit your mind-set. Are you winding down your brain, or are you revving it up? Which direction should you actually be heading at this point in your life?
Now is the time to exercise your business acumen; when you are full of life experience, retain a greater awareness of the long-term implications and have a grounded outlook is when your creativity and innovation can flourish into a practical and successful business venture.
Experience comes with age – now may be the time to put that experience to use!