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For the majority of my adult life I have been an entrepreneur.  I started my first business at the age of 24 – a public relations boutique in Los Angeles focused on commercial production. I built it into a six-figure business with clients on both coasts.   By 28 I had sold it to a multi-national PR agency, relocated back to New York and worked for that agency for several years.  Working for a corporation was great but I realized that in my heart I was an entrepreneur.  So, by 35 I started my next business as a corporate spokesperson, blogger, and nationally recognized child safety expert. Once again I built that company into a multi-six figure company that I ran for the next twelve years.  During this time, I gave birth to my four children, experienced the death of my first son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the diagnosis of my second son with Intellectual Disabilities and the end of my marriage.  It was an emotional and chaotic time in my life filled with incredible personal tragedy, but I absolutely loved my business and it’s most likely what kept me sane.

When my kids got older and I remarried my current husband my business no longer fit me.  Now that my kids were grown I was no longer in the child safety space.  My life experiences – the death of my child, the overwhelm of my divorce and the challenges of being a caregiver for my son and now my current husband with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis – and how I overcame them led me to my next business.  I now have my third successful business as a coach/strategist for women in midlife ready to overcome fear and obstacles to live a kick-ass life of personal happiness and professional success.

Each of my businesses grew out my life experiences at that time and I can honestly say now, in midlife, I feel the most comfortable and joyful in my business.  Women in general are starting businesses at a record pace.  Over the past several years, the number of women-owned businesses climbed to nearly 13 million — 42% of all U.S. businesses — and grew at double the rate of all U.S. businesses, according to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Business Report, which is based on U.S. census data.

But women who start businesses in midlife are actually the most successful, with 45 years of age being the mean age among the 1,700 founders of the fastest-growing new ventures according to a study by researchers at MIT Sloan School of Management. And they found the “batting average” for creating successful firms rises dramatically with age. “A 50-year-old founder is 1.8 times more likely to achieve upper-tail growth than a 30-year-old founder,” they wrote.

Here are some of the reasons why women starting businesses in midlife are most successful:

We’ve built up a wealth of experience. Unlike our younger sisters, we have the battle scars as well as the triumphs of years of experiences.  We’ve dealt with the fall-out of bad deals, difficult clients, and misguided loyalties but we’ve also learned how to effectively negotiate, efficiently delegate, and create strong teams. All of this life experience allows us to better manage the struggles of a new business.

We have more time to focus on our business. I’ll never forget one of the first mastermind groups I joined.  It was comprised of about fifteen women business owners.  About half of us had younger kids and we all were exhausted trying to manage our company and the demands of motherhood.  The women in the group who were empty-nesters or had older kids seemed so much calmer.  They assured us that it gets easier but to enjoy the time with our children.  They were right.  With one of my girls off to college and the other a junior in high school I finally have time to focus more fully on my business without guilt or the exhaustion of trying to do everything.

We’ve tried out different roles and have refined what we want. By the time we’re in our late 40’s and beyond we’ve been employees, consultants, bosses and sole-practitioners in various industries. Your desire in your 20’s to work in finance and make millions may have been what you wanted at that time but now maybe your dream is to open a B&B in Vermont or a small clothing boutique. Following your passion, waking up every morning loving what you do is a gift that comes with experience and leads to incredible abundance not just financially but spiritually.

We’ve dialed down the drama. I look at my daughters and women in their 20’s who spend hours re-hashing an argument or some slight on social media and can’t believe how much energy they waste.  One of the beautiful things about being a woman in midlife is we realize that it’s simply not worth our time to deal with haters.  And those narcissistic bosses or clients? Well, we realize that they’re just angry little boys stomping their feet and can roll our eyes and move forward with our day.  Starting a business takes the steady calm of a pilot or surgeon who knows how to deal with problems when they arise.  Women in midlife have learned to not sweat the small stuff.

We’re not afraid to ask for help. Yes, maybe our millennial counterparts have greater knowledge of technology and adapt more quickly to change but we’re not afraid to defer to someone else or ask for help when we need it.  We know that building a successful business requires a strong team that compliments our talents.  And we understand that delegating responsibilities allows us to focus on strategy and networking, the most important tasks for an entrepreneur.  As a coach/strategist for women in midlife who want to grow or start their business I focus on working with my clients and generating content. I allow my business partner and my virtual assistants to manage tasks that, quite frankly, I’m not good at.

Do you have a business idea or are you ready to scale your existing company?  Share in the comments some of your life lessons that have helped you become a better entrepreneur in midlife.

Also, come on over to my Facebook Group Midlife Mavericks: Fabulous, Fierce, Females! to get inspired and supported by other kick-ass women.

Let’s face it – most women are pleasers. We grew up playing with baby dolls and being “mommy.”  We are taught to be caregivers for everyone. Our parents wanted us to “dress appropriately” and “act like a lady.”  In school our grades reflected whether we got along well with others and followed instructions.

In short, the message we received was that our job was to be kind, take care of others and don’t make waves.

That’s still the message women receive and we are harshly labeled by the media and society when we don’t conform. At work if we advocate strongly for our idea we’re a bitch. If we get into a debate the adjective used to describe our interaction is “shrill.”  And of course, if we really go nuts then we must be on our period.

The adjectives used for men are completely different – confident, tough, a good negotiator.  And hormones are never a factor.

Several years ago a new phrase became popular – “disruptor.” Companies and products that are redefining a category or shaking up their industry with new ideas are disruptors.  The people who are disruptors are considered visionaries.

Women in midlife need to be disruptors as well.  We should be envisioning our future and living life on our terms as joyfully as possible. Doing so requires us to be laser-focused on what we do and don’t want in our lives and manifesting it, regardless of what the people around us think.  Here’s the thing, most people in our lives don’t want us to change. It either will inconvenience them or threaten their view of how life should be lived. And people looooovvveeee to tell us what we should be doing!

We need to change our mindset of what is acceptable behavior for us and the people in our tribe. By advocating for what you want and creating standards for what you will not allow you’re not a bitch your self-empowered. This is true in your professional and personal life.  It’s time to stop excusing rude, insensitive comments couched as advice and concern that leave you feeling badly about yourself.  Whether it’s your sister, friend or business colleague they need to hear from you in very confident language that you will no longer engage in conversations that you consider to be toxic or not supportive.

Recently on my You Tube Channel I did a video on establishing boundaries with family, friends and business colleagues who aren’t supportive.  We talked about having the right to say “No!” to relationships, situations and obligations and how to do it.

How often do you find yourself doing something because you think that’s what you “should” be doing? We don’t want to join the committee or go to the family party but we do it because at some point we were programmed to believe that’s what we’re supposed to do.

Stop and ask yourself the question – how would my life be positively or negatively impacted if I said “No” to these things?  Chances are, if you shut down the voice inside your head that tells you that you must do them, you’d not only feel happier but you’d have time to spend with a friend or work on your passion project or exercise or simply relax on the couch.  

There are positive outcomes from “No”

When you’re a mom and working long hours, it’s natural to want to give your kids as much of your time as you can.  There’s not a working mom alive who hasn’t heard the words “You never have time for me!”  Saying “no” to spending an afternoon with your son or daughter and instead exercising, reading a book or visiting a friend, seems incredibly selfish to most moms.  But not only is it important for your emotional and physical well-being, you’re also sending the message to your kids that caring for oneself is important.  Additionally, kids need to understand that your job is something you enjoy doing and their requests for you to stop working will also be met with a “no.

At work, “No” is extremely useful when a co-worker is trying to dump his/her share of a project on you or when your boss consistently asks you to stay late.  There’s a difference between being a team player and being taken advantage of.   The same holds true when you own your own business. Do you have a problem saying “No” to someone who isn’t willing to pay a fair price for your service or an employee who constantly shows up late or asks for time off?   These are just a few reasons your business might not be growing as you would like.

Do you say “No” enough?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How much time did I spend yesterday doing tasks/favors for other people?
  • How did I feel as I was doing them?
  • When was the last time I said “NO” to something I didn’t want to do?
  • How did that make me feel?

I’ve had my own struggle with boundary-setting and saying “No” lately.  Ever since the pandemic started I’ve been feeding my family of 6  Every. Single. Night. Before this, my daughters had afterschool activities and we rarely all ate together.  On many nights when either my husband, my mom or I were shuttling kids back and forth from activities dinner was “catch as catch can” meaning whatever you could find in the refrigerator or make yourself.

All of a sudden everyone was home and very quickly I found myself stressing as to what I was going to make for dinner.  I couldn’t focus on work past 4 o’clock as the thought of dinner loomed large. To be honest a great deal of this had to do with my mother (who lives with us) envisioning family dinners all together which rarely happened under normal circumstances. My daughters are great at making dinner for themselves and even my son with Intellectual Disabilities can whip up a mean plate of pasta and meatballs for himself.  I found myself very quickly becoming cranky and resentful.  If I wanted to go for a walk or exercise or have a social-distance cocktail with my friend I had to time it so I could still make dinner.

I discovered that I needed to say “No” to cooking dinner and eating together every night.  What I now do is state at the beginning of each day whether tonight would be everyone for themselves or dinner all together. By doing this I found I enjoyed mealtime much more and a ton of stress was lifted.

Please hear this:

It’s not your job to make anyone happy but yourself.

Think of something you consistently do that you would like to say “NO” to.  Practice stating to the person that you no longer will do that task.  When speaking to the person, even if it’s your child, be assertive and don’t apologize.

What would you rather be doing with that time you just saved? I’d love to hear from you!

Want to join a group of midlife women who are also deciding to live life to the fullest?  Join my Facebook Group – My Midlife Tribe: Fabulous, Fierce Females!