Top Five Tips for Encore Entrepreneurs

By Tameka Montgomery | July 7, 2016

Last month, the SBA and AARP launched the “Summer of Encore Mentoring” aimed at entrepreneurs over the age of 50. Did you know that encore entrepreneurs are one of the fastest growing groups of small business owners? If you are an individual age 50+, entrepreneurship can offer an opportunity for you to use your knowledge, passion, life and professional experience toward creating a small business.

Building on the success of last year’s “Summer of Encore Mentoring,” the SBA and AARP are matching encore entrepreneurs with successful business owners, community leaders and advisers for counseling and training assistance during June, July and August 2016. The joint partnership, which began in 2012, has educated and trained over 475,000 existing and promising encore entrepreneurs.

To find a free event near you, visit the “Summer of Encore Mentoring.”

Here are five useful tips if you are an encore entrepreneur considering business startup:

1. Find a Mentor

When starting a business, advice from SBA partner organizations such as SCORE mentors, Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers can help you avoid common pitfalls.

In the first months of opening your business, you’ll need to make many important decisions. But you don’t have to make every decision on your own. Ultimately, you’re responsible for your business, but you can always consult an SBA mentor for advice.

Why a mentor? A mentor is someone who has been down the same path you’re taking. He or she is experienced, successful and willing to provide advice and guidance.

The SBA offers free resources and services to support small business owners, both online and in person.

2. Write a Business Plan

First, it’s vitally important that you have a business plan. Why? Writing a business plan will not only help you succeed, but it will open your eyes to what it’s going to take to get there. A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues.

To simplify the process, SBA has a “Build a Business Plan” online tool that guides small business owners through the process of creating a basic, downloadable business plan. The great thing about this tool is you can build a plan in smaller bites, save it as you go, and return at your leisure.  Another great resource is SBA’s Learning Center, which hosts a variety of self-paced online training courses to help encore entrepreneurs explore and learn about the many aspects of business ownership.

3. Understand Your Financing Options

Financing your business or raising capital is the most basic of all business activities.  It is important to explore all sources before making a decision.  The primary source of funding for most new businesses comes from the owner’s savings and other personal resources.  In addition, many entrepreneurs look to private sources such as friends and family when starting a business venture. Often, money is loaned interest-free or at a low interest rate, which can be beneficial when getting started.

However, funding for business growth or expansion most commonly comes from banks and non-traditional lenders. They will provide financing if you can demonstrate an ability to remain in business, repay the loan and meet the firm’s other obligations. Another source of capital, but one that can be more difficult for new small businesses, comes from angel investors and venture capital firms. These individuals and firms help expanding companies grow in exchange for equity or partial ownership.

The SBA offers a variety of loan programs for very specific purposes. You can explore the various types of loans that may be available to help you purchase equipment, inventory, real estate, recover after a disaster and even finance exporting.

4. Take Advantage of Social Media

Knowing where to start is perhaps the number one obstacle holding many small business owners back from using social media. Knowing what to do when you get there is next. For example, should you use social media to generate leads? For branding? Customer service? Marketing?

There are numerous blogs on the SBA Community that offer tips for getting started in social media. One consistent piece of advice runs through them all: find out where your customers are, start small, and, as you learn, grow from there.

5. Let’s Get Started

SBA has many resources and programs to assist start-ups and micro businesses. With a special focus on entrepreneurs over the age of 50, the SBA and AARP are matching up “encore entrepreneurs” with successful business mentors and business experts for advice and assistance.

You can learn more about becoming an encore entrepreneur at a local event near you. The SBA has free online courses targeted at helping encore entrepreneurs to start and grow. You can go online to access the trainings and other available resources for entrepreneurs over the age of 50.

AARP also has related webinars for encore entrepreneurs that can be readily accessed.

There’s no better time to start a business than today, especially if you’re over 50, so why not use this summer to get a fresh start on the next chapter of your career?

Originally posted at https://www.sba.gov/blogs/top-five-tips-encore-entrepreneurs by Tameka Montgomery in SBA Blogs, “Top Five Tips for Encore Entrepreneurs”. Published on July 7, 2016, Accessed on July 18, 2016.

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