When you’re young, you don’t spend any time thinking about how to leverage your life experience. Before you reach midlife, it looms ahead of you like some kind of booby prize to avoid at all costs. Society tells us that people over the age of 40 are old, cranky, and totally uncool!

Then you reach 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, etc., and you realize that your life is getting better and better! It turns out that the joke’s on the younger generation!

Making friends with your inner self and allow chaos, expectations, and other people’s thoughts about you to fall away, you step fully into your power, and it’s exhilarating! 

As women experience that exhilaration, more and more women over the age of 40 are starting businesses for the first time than ever before. As they accept that experience is a valuable asset, they learn how to leverage their life experience in many ways.

According to Forbes, between 1997 and 2017, the number of women-owned businesses has grown 114% compared to the overall national growth rate of 44% for all businesses.

Inc. Magazine informs us that a study of 2.7 Million startups found the ideal age to start a business, and it's much older than you think! If you're in your 40s or 50s, you might think it's too late to start a business. Wrong: It's the perfect time. You simply need to learn how to leverage your life experience.

It makes sense. We’re done playing by other people’s rules, and we’re ready to live life on our terms. In addition to that, we have what it takes to get things done!

Today, we’re going to share three ways to leverage your life experience into a profitable business. 

We’ll cover:

  • How your experience is an asset…
  • Why you should begin by identifying your values, and…
  • The importance of validating.

Your Experience Is An Asset

Everything you’ve experienced has allowed you to flex your muscles and develop your skills to meet those challenges like a boss! You’ve navigated childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and if you’re a parent, your children’s as well. 

You’ve seen things! Some good and some bad, but no matter what life’s thrown at you, you’ve made it out the other side. Nobody can take your experience away from you, and your experience is an asset.

While you might not realize it, the same skills that got you through all those challenges have also prepared you for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is very much like a condensed version of life:

  • You’ll start out with wide-eyed excitement and incredible energy! 
  • Next, you’ll realize that this will be a lot of work, but your excitement will see you through. 
  • Your journey will then push you out of your comfort zone, and you’ll have to face your fears.
  • And, you’ll learn - Oh my, how much you’ll learn!

The best part of entrepreneurship is the relationships you’ll make. The second best is that the entrepreneurial journey is a journey into YOU. You’ll spend most of your time identifying your expertise, honing your skills, defining what sets you apart, and learning a lot of behind the scenes business and tech skills. You’ll immerse yourself in learning with like-minded people going through the same challenges.

There are no fears of living a boring life without friendships for those of us on the entrepreneurial journey - far from it. When you commit to leveraging your life experience, forging your future, and creating your own economy, boredom is the last thing on your mind.

You might have some ideas about the kind of business you would like to start, or you might like the idea of starting a business but have no idea what you want to do. Both of those scenarios are normal.

So how do you figure it out?

At Encore Empire, we guide you through the process of identifying that magical place where your expertise and your interests merge. 

Our process is what some have called an inside-out approach. Instead of searching for a business idea somewhere “out there,” we help you leverage your life experience into a unique true-to-you business that will propel you into empowerment and infuse your life with purpose.

Sound good? Then, let’s begin with your values.

Begin With Values

Business is about helping others and creating financial independence for yourself, so what do values have to do with it? I’m glad you asked!

Have you heard stories about people who became doctors or lawyers because that’s what their family wanted them to do and then dropped out of those fields because they hated it?

Maybe it happened to you.

In that scenario, weren’t a good fit for what? Values!

Those professions met the values of the people pushing their family-members into them, but unless they meet the personal core values of the person entering them, the experience won’t be a good one.

When was the last time you sat down and identified your values? 

For most of us, it’s been a long time, if ever. 

Deirdre and I know how powerful personal core values are to your success and happiness. They act as your guiding lights. If you want to feel confident about decision-making, you’ll learn to use your values to help you make the best choices.

Beyond that though, identifying your values is one of the best ways to decide on the type of business you should start. When you build a business based on your values, you increase the odds that it will energize you for years to come instead of sucking the life out of you. 

If you value spending time with your family, you might not want to choose restaurant ownership as a business option. If you hate being pushy, then direct-sales isn’t for you; or, you need to develop a way to sell that doesn’t make you feel icky.

As an entrepreneur, as long as you’re meeting or exceeding customer requirements, you get to build your business to your exact specifications. Your experience informs your choices, and your values ensure that they align with what’s most important to you. Intentionally creating the best entrepreneurial journey for yourself will help you skyrocket your potential, and who doesn’t want that?

How to Identify Your Personal Core Values

If you haven’t taken the time to identify your values, grab a piece of paper, or use a notes app on your phone or computer, and brainstorm all the things that are important to you. Don’t worry about spelling or how many you come up with; just get it all out.

Next, look for similarities and group those commonalities together. You’ll want to describe each category with a word that resonates with you.

After you’ve worked through your list and created your categories, choose the top 3 - 7 values that incorporate what’s most important to you; these are your guiding principles.

Validate, Validate, Validate!

Experience and values are fantastic, but they can’t give you the information you need to make sure your product, service, or business idea will be profitable; to do that, you need to validate.

At Encore Empire, we do things differently; we start from the inside out when building your business because to do anything else means you’re building something without a solid foundation.

It makes no sense to pick brand colors and a logo, build your website, and set up your business entity if you haven’t sold anything yet. You may have one thousand great ideas, but they may not hit the mark for your ideal client. Nothing's worse than creating something that you think is amazing only to launch to crickets - talk about deflating! 

So, what’s a girl to do? 

She needs to understand how critical it is to validate every idea she has BEFORE she invests time or money creating anything. At Encore Empire, we teach you how to do just that through our free Validate Your Business Idea Workshop. Register for the next round and walk away with the framework you can repeatedly use to make sure you’re creating something your clients will buy.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison

About the author

Carmen Reed-Gilkison is a certified Online Business Manager and Whole Person Certified Coach with 25+ years of marketing experience.

Deirdre Harter is a Certified Public Accountant with 20+ years of experience auditing and advising businesses of all sizes about how to build sustainable profitability in their companies.

They are also the co-founders of Encore Empire. Click here to learn more about their mission to help female entrepreneurs who happen to be over forty step into their power

To send a message to Carmen and Deirdre, click here

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