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Why an empty nest is a new opportunity

In tough times, it pays to take matters into your own hands. Mature women, often looking to return to the work force after time away to raise their families, are one group who often find it particularly tough to find a job. That’s why they are leading the way in setting up their own businesses. They have been quick to realise the potential for making a good living from a home-based business and business start-ups among the over 40s, continue to grow year on year.

If you want to develop your entrepreneurial skills, or want to turn your empty nest into a thriving hub of industry, here are some tips on where to start and how to put your ideas into action.

Grasp the nettle

So the kids are grown and are now off to the next stage of their lives, whether that’s studying or working. You finally have time on your hands to think about the next stage of your life. Your first thought might be to return to your previous career or industry, but there are several drawbacks to that move. You might need to retrain to get up to speed on any changes and your CV may not stand up against competitors who have much more recent experience.

It’s time to be radical and bold. Grasp the nettle and take control of your working life by creating a new role as an entrepreneur and businesswoman. Forget your age and stop panicking about your recent inactivity in the workplace – none of that is any barrier to you getting on with the next stage of your life. The only limits are your imagination. And of course, financing too, but we’ll talk about that a bit later in this article.

Find your inspiration

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and become your own boss, the next step is to decide exactly what you’re going to do. You may have a simple transferable skill that will easily translate to working from home, (such as bookkeeping, accountancy or writing), which would make the transition much less stressful. You can also use your skills and experience to become a consultant in your field. The biggest drawback to this route is that you may need a refresher course to master any new techniques or advances, but this outlay would be a more than worthwhile investment in you and your new business.

Chances are you might already have an idea of what you want to do and you only need time and financing to put it into operation. Perhaps you can turn your hobby into a money-making enterprise. If you’re a keen collector, you could buy and sell products online or maybe you’ve got a talent for design that could lead to greater things. But what do you do if you need some inspiration for a business idea? All you know right now is that you don’t want to get back onto the corporate ladder or to return to the 9 to 5 work day, where someone else benefits from the fruits of your labour. If you’re not sure what you want to do, consider franchising. It requires an investment upfront to buy the franchise, but you get the benefit of a tried and tested business model and the backing of the franchiser with the day-to-day running of the business.

If you’re still stuck, list your skills, knowledge and attributes and then match them to your business ideas. Consider practical careers that won’t require expensive start-up fees and are relatively risk-free. Do your homework thoroughly. Depending on what you plan to do, check to make certain you’re not flouting any local regulations, particularly for any businesses involving food, childcare or pets. Check the small print of your home insurance policy to ensure you’re still covered if you run a business from home and where necessary, amend your policy to include the necessary coverage.

Getting ahead and staying ahead

Check out the Internet for online support geared towards small businesses and start-ups. You’ll find a wealth of information and links to potential grants through government sites, as well as local business organizations and associations. Consider either brushing up on the skills you already have or studying for qualifications and certifications that will help you in the long-term. You can learn online at your own pace and in your own home, giving you added flexibility in your studies.

Sign up for free seminars with like-minded individuals where you can tap into other people’s experiences and get suggestions to improve and move your own ideas forward. Get a mentor – look for business associations that run mentoring schemes in which established entrepreneurs and business people volunteer their time to work with new businesses. Mentoring is one of the most successful ways to help a new business grow, as learned individuals are happy to pass on the wisdom of their experience to new business owners and startups.

Take a leap of faith

For more mature women, becoming their own boss is a route to greater freedom and an intoxicating, exciting opportunity to take charge of their lives and finances. It requires a leap of faith and a hefty dose of courage, but those who take the plunge will testify that it’s a risk that was well worth taking.

There are many success stories to draw inspiration from, including Lynne Terry who after working in the “boring” corporate world for the beginning of her career, ditched it all to start her own business online. She quickly worked her way in front of her own big wig clients and helped consult a range of businesses from start-ups to big wigs, such as Intuit and eBay. After winning awards for her entrepreneurial efforts, such as Best of Success Award at Total Life Success, she went on to focus her efforts on professional blogging and affiliate services.

Another exciting example of a successful older business woman who bears mentioning is Barbara Cocran, real estate mogul. She started out receiving poor grades and jumped from one job to another. Then, she found her passion in real estate. After getting a $1000 loan to start her own business she quickly grew her own business called The Cocran Group which focuses on real estate. She recently sold her business for an admirable $5 Billion and now works as a consultant and investor for other startups; living out her passion for the entrepreneurial spirit by helping others grow.

So, at this next stage of your life, you can attain your biggest goals and brightest dreams as a successful business woman. The support and information to help you is there for the taking – you just have to know where to find it. By taking the time to decide what you really want to do by finding your passion, success will naturally follow. All you have to do is work hard and believe in yourself.

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About Sarah Rawson

Sarah Rawson is an avid researcher and freelance writer. Most recently, she has been busy researching various MBA specializations, such as the MBA online no GMAT required course and then reporting her findings to various entrepreneurial sites.

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