Writing for business in the third-age: old? No, new.

People in the “third-age” who are running businesses are not old f*rts. In fact many of them are new entrepreneurs.

When I go home to Canada every summer I work a lot with my good friend and colleague Trudy Van Buskirk – a stalwart women-in-business coach and networker, founder of a number of online and offline business networking groups in Toronto. And just to make the challenge a bit more interesting she also a) is the wrong side of 60 and b) has disabilities.

Writing for business for third-age entrepreneurs on HTWB

Thanks to the internet it’s very easy for anyone of any age to keep bang up to date with their chosen business or industry.

What has struck me over the last few years of leading blogging and business writing workshops for Trudy and her clients are the high levels of energy, enthusiasm, business acumen, hunger for further learning and downright grit that all of these people pour into their businesses.

Why is such enthusiasm for business a surprise here?

Most of these Toronto networkers are not thrusting, testosterone-driven millennials in sharp suits. Most are the wrong side of at least 40 – some much older.

Many have retired after 30 years in the public sector, like teachers, nurses, police, military, civil service, etc. Others have done similar stretches in the major corporates and left through redundancy or taken early retirement to get off the hamster wheel.

But rather than take their pensions and spend their winters as Snowbirds in Florida or California, they dive right in and start businesses.

There’s none of this namby-pamby volunteering to make the tea at church fêtes for the rest of their days, either. These are ambitious, sharp-toothed, third-age entrepreneurs.

This third-age rebirth of new entrepreneurs is spreading

I can only speak from my experience of workshops in Canada and the UK. Increasingly now, I see more and more third-agers starting new businesses in England, too.

In the UK, despite the retirement age rising, even people in their late 60s and into their 70s are far too bright and energetic to be put out to pasture when the time does come.

Younger people in their 50s, say, are often either made redundant or offered early retirement because they have become too expensive and are presumed to be over the hill, anyway. Rather than seek new jobs in the corporate world – a tough call when you’re over 45 or so – they start a business of their own.

One of my cousins was made redundant from his job as an HR director when he was 41, used the redundancy money to start his own HR company and has never looked back. His is an increasingly common story.

Learning to write for business – all over again

Running your own business after a long spell of regular paychecks can be scary and lonely, as we all know. But hey-ho; that’s all part of the excitement and the learning curve.

What can be a huge challenge is coping with the difference in culture between the big corporate/public sector machine, and the freewheeling world of small business entrepreneurism. 

Wisely (OK, I’m biased), these people realise that writing for business and marketing in the SME sector is a whole new ballgame. When you have spent 30 years writing and reading well-regulated institutional jargon, the unexpected freedom of being able to write directly to customers can be unnerving.

Many people in this bracket come to my business writing workshops and first have to be “de-brainwashed” of the usually subjective, “royal we” approach they’ve been used to. Only then can they grasp that now it’s just them and their customers – no hundreds of minions in between.

And to write successfully for business, they need to focus on their customers’ needs, problems, wants, and how the  business is going to make the customers’ lives better. There’s no public service or big brand to hide behind, because THEY are now the service – and the brand.

What about the old argument that older people can’t be in touch with what’s going on?

There are two important points to mention here. One, is that thanks to the internet it’s very easy for anyone of any age to keep bang up to date with their chosen business or industry. There aren’t many people in their 50s, 60s, or 70s who don’t know how to do this, whatever platform they use.

The second point is that among the many benefits older entrepreneurs can bring to their customers, probably the most important (and one which the millennials can’t do so well) is to provide very good customer service.

People of this age have had several decades of being consumers/customers and know only too well how p*ssed off customers are when a small business lets them down.

And that’s one thing that I suggest to any third-age entrepreneurs in my business writing workshops: use your own experience of bad customer service to write about how your experience will benefit your customers in your new enterprise.

Finally, older people seem to have more empathy with their fellow humans, and so quickly become good at writing blogs, web text and even advertisements that focus on benefits for their customers.

What do you think? Are third-age entrepreneurs opening up a whole new future to benefit our ageing population?

Please share your views!

Comments

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Thoughts

  1. Of course they can!!!!!!!!! (BTW Thanks for mentioning me.) As you know Suzan, I had my last women solopreneurs’ network in May and am starting a new one in August called Savvy Older Chicks Exploring Entrepreneurship (SOCEE pronounced “saucy”) for the very reason you talked about above.

    • LOL Trudy – hope I can crash into one of your sessions: should be over from around Aug 4-5 to September 9-10 or thereabouts. Also let me know if you want to do a workshop / mentoring sesssion.

  2. Of course they can and should !!!!!!!!! (BTW Thanks for mentioning me.) As you know Suzan, I had my last women solopreneurs’ network in May and am starting a new one in August called Savvy Older Chicks Exploring Entrepreneurship (SOCEE pronounced “saucy”) for the very reason you talked about above.
    Several years ago I wrote a post called “Boomers: Stay young. Start a business – http://www.boomerbizbuilder.com/2012/06/14/boomers-stay-young-start-a-business/ about that issue.

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