Starting a Business After 40 

Attorney LaConya Murray invites you to the Own Your Genius Podcast, where you can unlock your brilliance as an entrepreneur.

Listen to episode 142 and discover how starting a business after 40 can be a great move, and how to conquer obstacles to own your genius. Don’t miss an episode. Subscribe today.

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About the Own Your Genius Podcast

The Own Your Genius podcast is the perfect mix of business, law, and mindset to help black entrepreneurs succeed in business and life.

Join Attorney LaConya Murray each month as she and guest share their entrepreneurial journey, tricks of the trade, and their secrets to getting out of their own way to succeed.

Inspired by her grandmother, the community bootlegger Attorney Murray‘s passion for helping entrepreneurs started early. Today she helps entrepreneurs throughout the country protect their brand, content, and ideas through trademarks, copyrights, and business development.


Until next week, keep building your business, growing your brand, and owning your genius!


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Episode Transcript

Welcome to the On Your Genius podcast where we empower entrepreneurs to unleash their brilliance. I’m your host, Attorney LaConya Murray. And over the last few weeks, I’ve seen this meme that’s been shared repeatedly. I think it’s an old meme. It’s not anything that’s new, but it’s a meme about successful business owners who founded their businesses later in life. I mean, brands that we love. All of Toni Morrison’s books, except for one, were written by Toni Morrison while she was over the age of 40. Adobe, Costco, Intel, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Geico, and GoDaddy, all their founders were in ages of 40 and 50. They were in their 40s and 50s. And I think that resonates with me because many of our clients are starting their businesses later in life. So, for those of you who are considering doing the same, this episode is for you. Today we’re going to explore starting a business after 40. But before we get into this episode, make sure that you subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss any of the insights on how to own your genius.  

Welcome back to the Own Your Genius podcast where we discuss building businesses, growing brands and what else? Only your genius. I’m your host, Attorney LaConya Murray, owner of Off The Mark IP Solutions. Off the Mark is a boutique intellectual property firm representing innovative entrepreneurs aka geniuses who are looking to protect their brand and grow their business with ongoing legal support and business mentorship. We have a good one for you today, so let’s get started. 

Aliyah told us that age isn’t nothing but a number. Well, let’s talk about numbers for a minute. Let’s explore why launching a business in midlife can be a game changer. We’ve heard that most businesses don’t make it past year five. I’ve heard that. Have you heard that? Let me know in the comments if you’ve heard those statistics. However, we got some other news. According to the Harvard Business Review, 1% of those businesses that make it to year five have founders that are around the age of 45 years old. And further research shows that a 40-year-old founder is 2.1 times more likely to start a successful venture compared to a 25-year-old. And I don’t think this is a coincidence. The average 40-year-old has decades of experience. And don’t let that decade steal you all. But we do. We have decades of experience. And we also have our education that we lean on. And most people that age, they’ve learned the value of building and maintaining relationships. And they’re able to tap into their network for referrals, assistance and introductions when needed. And then you also must think about this. You don’t make it to this big age of 40 without some type of trial and tribulation. There are lessons in adversities and successful people. We embrace life lessons, and we recognize the maturity that we have as an asset. And when we say wisdom comes with age, we’re not just talking about knowledge. Wisdom also encompasses things like judgment, insight and compassion. 

 As we get older, we draw from our life experiences. We consider the long-term consequences and then we balance our emotions. This can lead to making wiser decisions. And I believe that another reason that people over the age of 40 are successful in business is that they’re pursuing a long-time dream. A dream that’s probably haunted them for years. They’re passionate. And while it takes more than passion to succeed, passion is nothing to sleep on. Passion is like the spark that ignites the engine of success. And I believe there are four reasons why passion is important. First of all, when you’re passionate, your perception of obstacles is just different. Passionate individuals, they don’t shy away from challenges. They see challenges as opportunities to learn and to grow. And when they’re faced with a setback, they exhibit grit, and they have the determination to keep on going even when they’re knocked down. The second reason I think that passion is important is because it’s fuel for motivation. Passion provides that self-confidence that keeps you motivated. It’s the enthusiasm that propels you forward, urging you to learn more and strive for success. And this is number four, right? When you’re passionate about something, others often gravitate towards you because they can feed off your energy. So, you’re creating something of value, right? Passion fuels creativity, which leads to innovation and the creation of new values. And then I think it’s important, and when we talk about passion, a lot of times your why is tied into your passion. And so you can remember why, you remember that passion. You’re able to weather storms because of that inner fire that keeps on burning. If you can go back and remember why you started this, why you’re passionate about this, when times get difficult, you won’t quit as easily. You’re going to be very persistent to pursue your goals, and you’re not going to be deterred by challenges or setbacks. So in essence, passion is not just a feeling. Ittcan be the driving force that propels us forward towards success. Now, with all that said, we talked about the advantages of starting a business over forward. We get to lean on our experience and our education. We get to depend on our network, and then we also feel passion. But starting a business at any age comes with hurdles, and that’s just the bottom line. So, let’s talk about three specific challenges faced by older entrepreneurs.

The first challenge I believe that entrepreneurs have when they start later is their aversion to risk and mainly the fear of financial instability. According to AARP, 6% of current and inspiring business owners have been pushed into entrepreneurship because they’ve lost their job, or they have other necessities and they’re trying to fill in that gap. And I get it. When you’re accustomed to receiving a paycheck every two weeks and having health insurance and a retirement account, leaving all that behind can be scary. Especially if you grew up with the mindset that you were supposed to graduate high school, go to college, get a good job, and stay there. If you had that drilled into your head over years, the thought of doing something different can be scary. So I’ll say this, while the risk of financial instability, it can’t be completely erased, there are some things that you can do to manage that risk while pursuing your dreams. Wanna hear about it? Let’s go. 

The first thing I would say if you wanted to manage that financial risk that it takes when you get started, or even when you’re in business altogether, is you need to maintain an emergency fund. You need to set aside emergency reserves to cover unforeseen expenses or turn downs. If you have that financial cushion, it can provide peace of mind and it can help you weather these challenges. Sometimes that will mean picking up a part-time job to build that fund. And that’s okay. When I first started off the market, you know I had my general practice and then we transitioned into this, we niche down to this. But when I did that, I didn’t have a database of clients. What I did was I still practice federal criminal law. I just didn’t market it, but I was on a list of appointed attorneys, and they would call me whenever there was a case. So that made sure that I had money and was able to have some security as I niche down. The second thing you can do to help you have some financial security or have a peace of mind as it comes to starting this business, is build an advisory team. A similar team of professionals that can advise you on your business. Attorneys for legal guidance, bankers who are often overlooked but are crucial in financial advice. CPAs, goodness please have an accountant or a CPA to help manage your tax and financial matters. If you have that part, if you have someone that’s going to help you, manage your money, someone’s going to help you make sure that you’re getting all the tax breaks and things that you can, you’ll be able to lower that financial risk. And you want to make sure you’re meeting with your advisory team regularly so you can make informed decisions.  


The third thing to help you manage financial risk is something that people don’t think about often and that is carrying adequate insurance. You can transfer financial risk by having the appropriate insurance coverage. Insurance helps protect your business against unexpected losses, and it’s going to preserve your company’s capital because you’re not paying for that out of your profit or out of your revenue, your insurance company is. Think about that. You also want to make sure you’re reading your contracts thoroughly. You have got to understand the fine print in the contracts and your agreements in your financial agreements. If you can do that, then you’re going to avoid surprises and you’re going to make sure that you don’t have any unfavorable terms that can impact your business in the short term or in the long term. And finally, what I would say is please, please, please reduce unnecessary debt, not just in your personal life, but in your business as well. I’ve seen way too many entrepreneurs have overheads that were unnecessarily high because they were hiring coaches before they knew where they needed help. They were buying software because someone suggested it, but it wasn’t the best fit for their business. It just, you know, and me personally, I remember one of the things that I did is I went out and got office space, which is silly because this practice off the market has always been a virtual practice. Like even before COVID, because I live in Montgomery, Alabama. I didn’t have any clients in Montgomery, Alabama. We’ve always been virtual, but an unnecessary debt that I took on was getting office space because lawyers are supposed to have office space. No one can’t. I had an office building, office space for over a year and I saw two clients there. That was a waste. Please minimize debt wherever possible because if you have high debt levels can increase your financial vulnerability during economic downturns and you don’t want to have that risk. 

If being risk averse is a challenge for people over the age of 40 starting a business, I would say that adapting to new technology is the second challenge that they have. Navigating digital tools and platforms can be overwhelming for older entrepreneurs, but it really doesn’t have to be. I would suggest that you start with what you have. Start with your smartphone, start with your tablet, start with your computer. And then that way you can explore technology at your own pace. And then as you’re learning, keep this in mind. Focus on one thing at a time. I don’t care if you’re trying to learn, you know, if you decide, hey, I’m going to start with social media. I’m going to learn what these platforms are. And if you choose social media, pick one platform to focus on, because remember, one thing at a time. Or it can be something like your CRM, for those of you who don’t know, a CRM is your customer relationship management software maybe that’s the thing you want to focus on, or maybe you want to learn something else. But whatever it is that you’re trying to do, whatever technology that you want to incorporate in your business, make sure you don’t try to learn it all at once. And then you can lean on resources like Google, YouTube, Udemy, and Udemy is a, they have courses, some are free, some are low cost, some are high cost, but they have all different types of people and they’re teaching you anything you want to know. And those resources can be a low-cost entryway into getting the knowledge that you need to embrace technology. But I will tell you this, and we kind of talked about it a little bit when we talk about the financial part. One of the most important things you need to do is determine what technology your business needs. And you need to make that determination because if you don’t, I guarantee you, you will get shiny object syndrome. Ooh, this new thing was released. 

Ooh, this new thing was released. And then you’re going to find yourself spending money on tools you don’t even use. If you go at the end of the year, one of my highest expenses is software. And I must make sure that I’m constantly going through there to make sure that I’m using the tools and software that I purchased because in the beginning, I’m like, wait a minute, why am I paying for this? I’m not even using this anymore. Stepping down off my soapbox to remind you to make sure you know how this technology will help your business before you fall into the trap of purchasing and learning it and all that stuff.  


The final thing that I will say when it comes to adapting technology is don’t be afraid to outsource. Don’t feel like you personally need to know everything. I heard it somewhere, I don’t know where I heard this from, I read it at Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, made a comment about not needing to know how to build a motor because he had people for that. Like he doesn’t have to know everything because that’s why he has a team. Outsource, baby. If you don’t have the time or the patience or the know-how, consider letting someone that does do it. If being risk averse and technology are challenging then people over 40 needs to need to overcome when starting a business, I would say that the final challenge, at least the final challenge that we’re going to talk about today that entrepreneurs over 40 have will be staying relevant. I believe that staying relevant is going to come with being adaptable. And being adaptable involves changing actions and behaviors based on the context. Adaptable individuals can switch roles, modify routines, and embrace change. And we’re going to have to be able to do that. 

If we’re going to be successful in business, especially over the age of 40, when we’ve learned so much, sometimes we can be set in our ways. So that’s where people don’t cling to always, but they adjust as needed. And I think that as needed part is very important. In the business world, markets, technologies, and consumer preferences change so quickly. Companies that adapt survive. And those that resist become obsolete. And we know of some companies that have become obsolete because they would not adapt. And the one that I’m thinking about right now is blockbusters. I remember, and that really wasn’t too long ago, when my husband and I first started dating, had this blockbuster car and they had a program where you can go in there and maybe like rent three or four movies a week and switch them out and stuff. And this is before streaming. And we would do that.  


And over time, what became popular was streaming. And if I recall correctly, Netflix maybe approached Blockbusters about teaming up and Blockbuster was like, no, and then next thing you know, streaming is in and going into a rental store, picking up DVDs or VHSs is out. Just imagine if Blockbuster was able to say, hey, I see people value convenience and being able to avoid leaving your house to watch a movie. How can we be a part of that? Because they should have been, right? But they wouldn’t adapt. They became obsolete. But you must be adaptable. Adaptability fosters teamwork and innovation. And there are a few ways to cultivate adaptability. I would say one way is to stay curious, be open to learning and exploring new things. You must embrace change. 

You must see change as a chance, not a threat. And don’t be afraid to seek feedback. Learn from others and adjust accordingly. And then the final way that you can work on being adaptable is to practice mindfulness, stay present and adaptable in the moment. You know, just don’t be so rigid, don’t be so stuck in your ways. Stay in this moment. Don’t cling so much to the past. And here’s the question I have, and you might have it too. Let me know in the comments if you have this question, because we talk about being adaptable, being open to change, but how do you become adaptable or how do you pivot without losing your core identity? And that’s important as a business owner. How do we stay true to ourselves while also being adaptable? It’s a good question. I would say that pivoting is a strategic move that allows businesses to adapt to changing circumstances. And here are a few strategies for business owners to pivot effectively without losing who they are. So the first thing I will say is to understand your core identity. Before you make any changes, you need to deeply understand your business core identity, what the values are, what the mission is, and the unique qualities that define your brand. You want to reflect on what makes your business special and what resonates with your customer. So understand what your core identity is. So how can you maintain that core identity if you don’t know what it is, right? The next thing is to evaluate market trends and customer needs. You have to stay attuned to market trends and shift in customer behavior. Regularly assess whether your current offerings meet your customer’s needs or if adjustments are necessary. And that’s not something that you just want to kind of figure out on your own. Get feedback, listen to your people, listen to your tribe, listen to the people who are spending their money with you.  


If you keep hearing the same comment, complaint, or concern repeatedly, that is a sign that you might need to adapt or pivot in a certain area of your business. We had to do it. So, oh my goodness, it’s been years now because that’s crazy. I just can’t believe how much time has passed. Like it’s been four years since COVID. In the 2019, we launched the Genius Insider, which is our legal subscription model. We provide ongoing legal support for businesses. But prior to that, it seems like every year or every few months, I was trying to create something digital or some type of product for my customers. And I had some people who would purchase it because they wanted support, but it never hit. It never hit. But almost every time I would launch something, people would say, hey, this is great. 


We love that you’re doing this, this is awesome. But how can we work with you? Like how can we get you on retainer? How can we, if I have a problem, how can I get it so all I must do is schedule something and review this document? Like how can you be my attorney outside of the one-on-one transactional work that we do? And that’s how Genius Insider was created. And since I created Genius Insider it’s become one of our staple services and I haven’t had to really go into creating, like trying to start over from scratch. What we’re doing now is we have this thing that our people love, and we just work on making it better. But all that came from listening to our clients. Listen to your people, listen. Another way that you can pivot without losing your core identity is to involve your team. Engage your team in the discussions about pivoting. Collect insights from employees who interact with customers often have valuable perspective. And then the other thing that I will say is the test. You need to test any changes like incremental changes rather than make like this huge shift. You want to make small changes first. For example, you might want to tweak your product features or your pricing or your marketing approach one thing at a time, but you not want to do all that altogether because if it succeeds, you don’t know what made it succeed and if it fails, you don’t know which one of those is the reason that it failed. After you make those tweaks, after you make those small changes and you introduce them to the market, you want to see what the customers’ reactions are and then adjust accordingly. And as you put those out there, you want to be transparent. You want to communicate with the stakeholders, the people in the business about what this pivot is and what it means and explain the reason why you’re making these changes so that everybody can be on board. And when you’re explaining why you’re making these changes, you must include how it aligns with your core identity. And then also address any concerns that anyone that has a stake in your company may have so that you can maintain that trust. If you must rebrand so that it aligns with the new direction that you’re going, the pivot that you’re making, you want to make sure that rebranding still has some of your existing identity with it. You want to maintain some of that so that it’s just like a not a totally new thing, like you’re not starting from scratch unless you’re starting a new business, right?  


And then finally, when you pivot and you’re staying and you want to stay true to your core identity, you want to monitor the metrics because your customers would tell you if you’re staying true to who you are and who they trust. You want to make sure that you’re continuously tracking your key performance indicators, which are KPIs, and make sure that you’re achieving the goals that you set for yourself while staying authentic. Can you do both? Are you doing both? What does that look like? That’s all I would say about adaptability and pivoting. So that’s the third thing is staying relevant. Sometimes to stay relevant, you do have to adapt, and you do have to pivot. But remember, successful pivots can enhance your business without really compromising the essence of it. So, thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Own Your Dreams podcast. Remember that it’s never too late to chase your dreams and Own Your Genius. 

 Geniuses, what are your takeaways from this week’s episode? And if you find this podcast insightful, share it with your fellow entrepreneurs and make sure that you subscribe, rate and leave a review.  

Let’s take this conversation over to the Markedlegal Community. I want you to share this episode with three people and have them meet you there. But you know what to do before you go. Make sure you hit that subscribe button and rate the podcast. Until next week, I want you to keep building your business, growing your brand, and owning your genius.