Podcast Interview by Ceri Wheeldon
So many women in their 50s and 60s set up successful businesses. In this podcast episode I chat with business coach Karen Knott of Prime Time Business on how to set up a successful business over 50.
We talk about why women over 50 set up businesses
Why more businesses set up by women over 50 are more successful than those set up by younger counterparts.
How to overcome the fear of technology when setting up a business
The essential things to do when setting up a business
The fundamental steps to take when setting up a business
Three top tips to set up a successful business
For those who prefer to read, there is a full transcript below.
If you would rather listen on itunes, here’s the link
Full episode transcript:
[00:00:04] I’m Ceri Wheeldon. Welcome to the Fab after Fifty podcast. Leading the pro age conversation, talking about all things life after 50.
[00:00:17] Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Fab after Fifty podcast. And I have with me as my guest today, Karen Knott. Karen is a business coach working primarily with women in their 50s and 60s, setting up their own businesses. Hello, Karen, and welcome to Fab after Fifty.
[00:00:33] Hi there. Ceri, it’s lovely to be able to talk to you today.
[00:00:38] Now, I’m so looking forward to sharing this our listeners, Karen. I know you do so much work, don’t you, to encourage women to successfully set up businesses when they reach midlife and beyond?Yes,
[00:00:48] it’s my mission and my passion, Ceri.
[00:00:54] And I know that always come through in our conversations. Why do you think it is that so many women choose to set up businesses once they reach their 50s?
[00:01:04] Well, I guess there’s a variety of reasons. I mean, for some women, Ceri, there’s a catalyst of some sort taht will have occurred.
[00:01:15] I’m thinking here about things like possibly a redundancy, maybe sort of empty nest or sometimes it’s even like, you know, a big birthday like fiftieth or sixtieth. And it’s just that sort of thing which makes them sort of think, OK, right. That’s it. You know, I need to do this now, you know, not in five or 10 years time. The time is now, you know. And but for a lot of people, it’s just sort of a phase of life, you know, that it’s like they’re moving into their next evolution, if you like, if that doesn’t sound a bit to woo woo. And it’s just like they’re just saying that they want to explore new possibilities, you know, and up for just sort of doing something different. Sometimes it’s actually as simple as that. It’s sort of pull towards I want to do something different. And the women that you work with.
[00:02:16] I mean, when they come to you do they have a fully fledged idea of what they want their business to look like or is it still very much in the conceptual stage?
[00:02:26] I guess, you know, for some it’s in these sort of let’s say there’s two there’s two different parts to it, really. First to some, it’s like I just have this feeling, if you like, you know, of this wanting to do something different, but they haven’t yet been able to shape what that thing looks like. So that’s sort of like, you know, one group of women, it’s like they don’t know the what of what it is they want to do. It’s like, you know, what is this thing? You know, what can I do? So there is one group and the other group is they know very well the what and they’re their sort of challenge is you know, how do I make this into a business? So if you like, they come from two different sorts of fall into two different camps.
[00:03:13] If we take the second camp that these are the people that know what it is they want to do, what are the first steps that people should really, I guess, take when they are thinking of setting up a new business?
[00:03:25] Okay. So I always say that the first things that we need to get really, really is a clarity thing that we have to do first. And that clarity, piece is first of all, starting with them because, you know, it’s their business. So it makes sense to start from that point. And. Believe it or not, that is actually far more challenging than it sounds because probably for the first time in their professional life, professional careers, they are in a position where they can shape this thing to suit them, you know, whereas they’ve been used to when they’ve been in employment, probably being sort of having to fit themselves into someone else’s job description, if you like. Does that make sense?
[00:04:21] Absolutely. I mean, I set up my first business in my thirties. And to go from being employed with your company car and set hours, suddenly being in your office at home. I think, okay, I can choose what time I start, I can choose how much travel I do. It’s all down to me. Yes it can be quite daunting.
[00:04:43] You have to be incredibly disciplined to stick to a routine of some sort.
[00:04:49] Yes. Yes, it is. It’s a change and it’s just a different perspective. I think as well. And that takes a little bit of getting used to as like, oh. Right. Okay. So this is you know, there’s a euphoric bit of yay, I can do what I want. And on the other end of the scale, there’s that sort of, oh, my God, I’m responsible forever. Yes. It’s sort of really starting off by getting to grips with. Right. So what does this business look like for you? Bearing in mind you can shape it in a way that is going to, you know, be right for you, because obviously, you know, if somebody wants to start a business whereby they’re working just three days a week, for example, and they you know, they want to be working from home, then the business they create is going to be very different to the person who wants to be working full time and wants travel to be part of their business, et cetera. So, yes, you know, you need to be very clear at the outset what this business is going to look like for you. And as I’ve said before, that can be quite challenging to sort of say, oh, I can do this. I can make this look in a way that I want it to look you know.
[00:06:16] So presumably have they already done the market research to make sure that there is demand for their product or service or is that something that you would work through with them when they come to you?
[00:06:28] Yes, it varies. Most I would say most people probably haven’t done much of that.
[00:06:35] Right. That’s essential isn’t it to make sure you don’t have a business that nobody is interested in.
[00:06:40] Exactly. Exactly.
[00:06:42] So, you know, so the first part, it’s really sort of putting you at the epicenter of this business and trying to really get clear on how she wants it to look. And the second part is really getting clarity on your ideal clients. And, you know, it’s just so essential to really know the people that you want to work with. And I think perhaps, you know, a lot of people try and skip that step. You know, maybe they haven’t done any research. And whenever people get stuck, did you know, nine times out of ten, the answer lies like going back to look at their ideal client. So, yes, I say the more you could do that upfront, you know, the easier it’s going to be. Because it is a step you can’t miss out and you can’t pay lip service to it.
[00:07:42] You know, it’s interesting that I mean that Fab after Fifty The website that I set up as I was turning 50. And to see if that’s actually something anybody had an interest in at the time, I took out a stand at a very big exhibition and we just asked people questions about what they wanted to see. And at that time, what people wanted was actually quite different to what they want now. I run similar exercises because things that moved on.
[00:08:12] I mean, 10 years ago, people were concerned that they couldn’t find the clothes they wanted on the high street now with changes in pension age and everything else. It’s how they’re going to support themselves. So I think you just have to keep up to speed with what what your customer wants .
[00:08:32] When I first started doing this, I’m thinking sort of over 10 years ago, I felt as though primepreneurs, as I call them. You know, I hate the phrase older preneurs We’re sort of at the cutting edge of of setting up business. It’s, you know, really not that many women were regarding this as a viable option, whereas 10 years down the line, I think a lot more people are thinking, actually, yes, do I? I don’t necessarily have to get another job. I can actually do my own thing now. And it’s not seen as something which is quite so avant garde as it was before.
[00:09:21] And I guess really with technology and social media it makes it a lot easier, doesn’t it, to set up a business now. It has certainly changed since I set up my first business in my 30s. Instead, just to get started it cost a fortune. Whereas now with a phone, laptop and the Internet, you can do so much more. Yeah.
[00:09:41] Absolutely. And again, that’s a bit of a double edged sword for some people because technology. I would say it’s still the one thing that people worry about when they’re setting up businesses. You know. That’s interesting. Technology, but I’m not that happy with and yet they’ll be happily using, you know, Facebook, et cetera. And it’s like, look, if you can do that, you can do that for your personal account. You can do that for business. So. But you’re absolutely right. I think it’s never been simpler and it’s never been less expensive than it is now to get yourself up online.
[00:10:28] Exactly. I mean, I know that now I can go back a long time. And we started a business. I had to have expensive phone lines installed. A printer was something like £4000.
[00:10:38] It’s ludicrous.
[00:10:38] Think about it now you had to get all kinds of printed materials because you posted things to people. You know,now you don’t have to really do any of that. You don’t need to have an expensive brochure as long as you have a great online presence video.
[00:10:53] You need a website because that’s your sense of shop window, if you like. You know, you need an e-mail account. You know, you need a Facebook account if you need to do social media, which most of us do. But other than that, you know, you don’t need to have all the whistles and bells certainly at the start. And that’s one of the things that I think is really important, is just to say. But look, you can start up your business by keeping things very simple. And it’s like once you’ve got the fundamentals in place, then you can, you know, add the bits on top if you want to. But it’s all about getting the fundamentals right. To begin with.
[00:11:36] And what would you say are the fundamentals when you’re working with people?
[00:11:42] Well, that’s guess I’ll put you on the spot there and start with fundamentals. Are they actually coming up? I do know what I would say to that question, because the fundamental thing is to know the people that you are serving so that, you know, you hear it said a lot. You know, your ideal client, because that is absolutely key. And when I say know them, I don’t mean just, you know, I want to work with. You know, women over 40 or men over 30 who don’t know how to dress properly or something. It’s not that, you know, that is just like the demographic you feel like. It’s about knowing them at a completely different level, you know, knowing the things that they worry about, the things that keep them awake at night. You know, the things that the conversations they’re having in their head, if you like, before they come to you, you know, what’s the what are the problems that they’re dealing with with which lead them to you? Because all information is essential, because, you know, that’s what you put in your website, actually. Yes.
[00:13:10] And I see that you’re saying, in essence, like every business needs to solve a problem. You have to understand what that problem is.
[00:13:17] Absolutely. Absolutely. Yes. And again, you know, this whole sort of ideal client thing is fundamental because you know what? I’ve seen people who’ve tried to sort of start their website so I can sort of circumvent it. I’m going to go straight in and I’m going to get my business cards. And then I’ve got a lovely website. And they sit there. They’re about to write their website. And it’s like, oh, we don’t know what to write. And, you know, of course, they don’t know who they’re actually talking to. And until they know who exactly who they’re talking to and the problems that they’re addressing, you know, they won’t be able to to write in a way that connects with that person. So it is absolutely, absolutely key.
[00:14:13] So if they get it right. I mean, are people realistic about how much money they are going to make and how long it’s going to take to make it? Cash flow is another essential element of me being able to run a successful business.
[00:14:27] Yes, it is. And I would say that, you know, that’s the bit that I certainly cover in that first piece. And I’m telling you about the first piece is to actually get feedback on the type of business you want to run because some people Ceri, especially when they’re especially, I would say my my market, you know, women in their 50s and 60s, Yes. They want to make money. But I would say that the majority of them, that is not the key motivator. But whether it is a motivator or not. I think it’s still essential for them to acknowledge that and to say, well, OK. But I do need to make X amount of money because again, you know, a business that wants to make fifty thousand pounds a year is going to be very different from a business that wants to make one hundred and fifty thousand. Well, you know, so it is important to get really clear on how much money you want to make because that will dictate so much about, you know, pricing. Well, the services you offer. And also pricing those services. So, you know, you’re not gonna make 150 thousand a year. You know, selling your services for 40 pounds an hour. That’s going to take an awful lot of work. But, you know, it’s just not viable. So, yes. So they need to get clear on that piece.
[00:16:07] Right? We hear, don’t we, that women set up businesses in their 50s typically are far more successful than the women setting up businesses or men as well in their 20s and 30s? Why do you think that is?
[00:16:22] Well, I think it’s because. For women, it’s like, you know, they get to this stage and they think, you know, I’ve got all this fantastic experience. And it’s about wanting to put that experience to good use. You know, it’s like. And so there’s there’s a real passion behind behind this. You know, it’s not just a game. It’s not fundamentally a money making venture. It’s far more than that. So they go in with this huge sort of personal commitment to make for a start. And, you know, of course, you know, experience is something which is, you know, a hard won commodity. Isn’t it? And it’s the thing that I see as an advantage that we have over our younger over young people setting up businesses. You know, we’ve been around the block a few times. Things don’t phases in the same way as perhaps they did when we were younger. You know, we’ve got these sort of internal resources to fall back on. You know, we’ve been there. We’ve done it. You know, we know the sky won’t fall in. Do you know what I mean?
[00:17:43] It’s fine. Yeah, absolutely. You know, we’ve got these moves.
[00:17:46] So let’s let’s put them to good use.
[00:17:49] And I think that you think we a that and we get older, we recognise our own failings as well. All the things we can’t do on our own.
[00:17:55] I mean, you mentioned technology earlier has been one of the factors, one of the things that women are perhaps apprehensive about. I know going back 10 years when, you know, it’s hard to believe that social media was relatively new then. People said to me you have to get onto Twitter to support the website. I did not understand it. I went onto Twitter and people were using it I thought with a different language. It was like a whole page full of hieroglyphics. I did not get it at all. It didn’t matter who I spoke to how I googled twitter. What do you do? It meant nothing to me until one day I went to a business networking event about whether I had a speaker and the speaker talked about social media and the very first time it made sense. I booked him to actually come to my house and set me up and explain to me what I should be doing. And it’s the best money I ever spent because I had the confidence just to start on one platform and I went to some other ones as well, which kind of went over my head, I understood that. I understood that Twitter was like sending text messages. So once I understood that, yeah, I thought I can send text messages until the cows come home. And he helped get me started. And that was the best one of the best investments I made because I recognised I was getting nowhere when I tried to do it on my own.
[00:19:16] Yeah, I mean, yes, its undoubtedly a learning curve. You know, somebody I was talking to, the other side, starting a business was like a self development program on speed. And, you know, you are going to be doing new things, you know, things you’ve never done before. So, yes, you’re going to come across some challenges.
[00:19:42] But, you know, the thing like technology is there are so many people out there that you can call upon to actually, you know, fill in that gap in your knowledge or confidence, like you just said, Ceri. And it’s again, it’s never been easier to outsource because you don’t have to be, you know, good at all this stuff. Other people will do that for you so that you can get on and do the bit that you are good, you know?
[00:20:10] Absolutely. And the other thing I have found when it comes to technology. YouTube has been a wonderful resource to you. There’s always some sort of tutorial on YouTube, that you can find.
[00:20:20] And what I tend to do is have it playing on my iPad or whatever and pausing it when I’m working on my laptop to get things done. And I’ve learned so much just by watching those tutorials.
[00:20:30] That’s amazing. I was doing exactly the same thing. I’ve just been putting a program up onto a platform called Thinkific. And in order to get it to do. And I just could not. You know, I just couldn’t get this bit to work. So, yes, like you on Google, you know, just typed in low and behold. There is a YouTube video. And I did exactly what you just said, played the video, paused it, went back, did what they said, played the next bit. Went back. It was like, oh, god, this is fantastic .
[00:21:05] And I think it’s awesome. I think I personally that by the time you’ve reached this stage of our lives, we’re used to solving problems, aren’t we? Yes. And like you said, it’s not that we get flummoxed by it. There must be a way round this. But let’s try. I try and find the answer myself first. And then, like you said, with YouTube tutorials and Googling things. And then if I can’t do it, I’ll go to a third party?
[00:21:28] Yes. Exactly. Yes.
[00:21:30] But at least I understand the nature of the problem and who I need the contact to help me. Yes, but I think we are pretty resourceful like that. We’re used to sorting problems in different aspects of our lives at this stage.
[00:21:44] Yeah. And all of those skills that we’ve amassed over the years, you know that we are pretty good. We are pretty resourceful beings, you know? Oh, you think so? You’ve had all this different work experiences, life experience and all of those things. I always say to my clients, none of those things. None of those things are wasted. You can bring all those things with you. I mean, you know me, for example, back in the day, I used to be a teacher and then I gave it up. I no longer wanted to teach. But here we are. You know, X number of years later, teaching is still part of what I do, but it’s in a different format. So it nothing’s wasted. Nothing’s wasted .
[00:22:34] Three top tips that you are going to give women today about how they should set up a business. What would those three tips be?
[00:22:43] Well, the first one, I don’t know, people might be a bit surprised by this because I think the first thing I would say is don’t underestimate the role that your mindset has in all this. When you’re setting up a business, you know, it’s not just about the the how and ways of doing it. It’s what goes on in your head that has a huge effect because, you know, let’s face it, it does take a bit of courage to embrace that sort of fear and uncertainty and to perhaps take the leap of faith to follow your passion. But sooner or later, and in most cases, Ceri, I’d say it’s sooner you will come up against something with the power to stop you dead in your tracks and that something is, believe it or not, your own resistance. And I’m talking about like, you know, the voices in your head that come up with all sorts of reasons why you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t, you mustn’t set off in this journey. So, you know, your mindset will play an enormous part in your business success. All right. You know that. So that’s the first thing. So just be aware of that so that you’re not going to be thrown off track the first time that you get one of these little internal wobbles. No, just stay with that one. I think the thing is to make sure that you, the best way to support your mindset is to actually, you know, surround yourself with other people who are living examples, if you like, of what you actually want to do, because, you know, if you’re in their company, seeing them doing the very thing that you aspire to do, then, you know, it makes you think, well, look, if they can do it, so can I.
[00:24:36] So that’s that was the first thing. And the second thing is.
[00:24:44] Get strategic with your dreams. You know, it’s it’s really not enough to just wait and see. It’s about actively starting to explore and discover what’s possible.
[00:25:01] So, you know, one of the things I keep saying is it’s you’ve got to make the decision to get intentional about this, because as soon as you get intentional, it sort of produces, if you like, a different energy, a focused energy. And that is something which you can really harness then to sort of accelerate things, because, you know, I always see setting up a business in your 50s or 60s as a really precious opportunity. But if you want to grasp this precious, precious opportunity, you’ve really got to give yourself the tools to create it. And no amount of wishful thinking can replace information, support, encouragement, accountability, all those things.
[00:25:49] So, you know, when you said that, I thought about the film field of dreams with Kevin Costner, build it and they will come.
[00:25:55] Yeah. Well, and so that last bit that I’ve just said actually brings me onto my third thing, which is get support because I’m speaking as someone who tried for many years to do this without support. And you know, it was hard. And as soon as I got myself a coach, that’s where it all started. For me, that was it all just changed because, you know, it’s as I said mentioned before, doing this setting up a business. It’s about growth and expansion. And part of the joy and the challenge of this is inevitably about doing things you haven’t done before and trying to sort of navigate your way by yourself through this completely new terrain is tough. I mean, you know. It is. Yeah. And also, nobody’s born knowing how to do this again. Nobody’s born knowing how to set up a business. But it is easy to learn. And, you know, like most things, it’s so much easier when someone’s showing you how . And not only is it easier, it’s actually you progressed so much faster.
[00:27:20] So, you know, is that because you feel that so you put a session in at the following week or in two weeks time? It’s almost like you have to have done your homework because you cant let the timescales slip.
[00:27:29] Absolutely. Absolutely. Accountability is, you know, part of the support that a coach will offer. And, you know, it’s as you say, it’s just it just makes all the difference. Knowing that you’ve got someone there that you have made a commitment to say, right, I’m going to do X, Y and Z. Well, without that support, you know, if X, Y and Z starts to get a bit tricky and challenging, you can sort of say, you know, suddenly unloading the dishwasher looks like a viable alternative.
[00:28:05] Oh, that looks that’s a crucial thing I should be doing at this moment in time, checking my inbox.
[00:28:10] Whereas someone else knowing just knowing that you can go back to someone, not in a way that they’re going to tell you off, then that isn’t what it’s like. It’s about saying, look, you know, I’m here to support you. So let’s get this done. Let’s do it. Know it. After all, it is the thing that you want more than anything else. So, you know, having support is just going to make it that much easier.
[00:28:37] And how would you go about choosing the right coach to work with you?
[00:28:42] Oh, that’s a very good question, because everybody’s different, you know. Coaches are unique individuals. I think you can tell a lot by the message on their website. And I would say never, ever do long term coaching with someone I haven’t met before, because there has to be a synergy between between you. You know, it just makes it so much easier.
[00:29:16] What about a physical meet or would that be like an online Zoom meeting or Skype call type of meet?
[00:29:22] Always. I love doing physical meets but a zoom call is the next best thing, isn’t it? It’s almost like you’re in the in the room. I mean, you know, for me I guess people come to me because, you know, I make quite a big thing about helping my clients navigate the internal blocks.
[00:29:44] You know, we talk about mindset again as well as the practical how to elements, because in my experience, Ceri. So those two are completely interconnected. All right.
[00:29:56] So if that sounds like something, you know, that will resonate with some people. The thing. Yes. You know, I know that that’s going to be something I need. Then obviously, you know, they’ll find me a more attractive proposition than somebody was. Just say, right. You know, you just need to. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
[00:30:17] You know that if I don’t come to me, because I’m boom, boom, boom one you know, it’s horses for courses.
[00:30:24] This not something you.
[00:30:26] I don’t offer coaching service, but so don’t come to me anyway. But, you know, I would be very much do X,Y,Z and out pops this.
[00:30:33] Yeah. Yeah. Funnily enough though, Ceri, I’ve done you know, as a coach, I think it’s important to have coaching. So I have, you know, over the years experienced lots of different approaches. And I know for me I can’t do the look, here’s my template. All you have to do is exactly what I tell you. And, you know, you’ll get this end, because what I found is, you know, what works for the coach is their 10 step process or whatever doesn’t necessarily work for me because I am not that person, you know. So I do think it is very important to find a coach that fits you. That’s all I’m saying.
[00:31:24] All right. And I guess to say, I mean, if there’s a 10 step process, it could well be as an individual that you’re already very comfortable with for the four steps or six of the steps And what you need is to help on the other the other four that you don’t have that strength in.
[00:31:40] Yes. Exactly. I just think it’s a bit more nuanced than, you know, step 1, 2 and three. You know, you have to take the the individual into account, far more than that. I mean, I actually just reminded me it wasn’t that long ago I wrote a blog post called Beware of the Blue Print just because I was talking about this exact thing about people offering you their blueprint, you know, and when there’s a lot of that online, isn’t there? You know, there is, you know, follow my seven step process and you, too, can earn twenty thousand pounds in three days. But you know the type of thing and I do I think they make that.
[00:32:28] I think they make their twenty thousand pounds by you buying their seven step process and not actually implementing it.
[00:32:32] Absolutely. Exactly. Exactly. You get to it and you think hang on. This isn’t you know what? I wouldn’t dream of doing that, you know, so. Horses for courses.
[00:32:45] So it seems somebody would like to work with you then and Karen or I know that you’ve got blog posts as well. How would they find you? How could they get in touch with you?
[00:32:54] Well, I have my online home. Ceri is at www.primetime business.co.uk And on that there’s this is everything, everything you need to know basically. So it’s got different ways of working together. You know, there’s one to ones, there’s an online course and more than that. I think you probably get a flavor of the you know, the way I approach working with people as well. So I say that’s your first port of call. And from there, there’s links to various social media channels as well.
[00:33:37] Great. Well, thank you so much for joining me today and for helping to inspire women sitting there thinking, should I shouldn’t I go for that? I think that’s a tremendous starting point for them. And then finally, you’d like to add before we sign off for the session.
[00:33:53] Yeah. There’s one thing. It’s never too late. And one of my favourite quotes. I don’t know that George Elliot, quote, It’s never too late to be what you might have been. I love you. I like that one. Yes. And it’s because, you know, because of all your lovely life experience, it’s like equips you to become the person you were born to be.
[00:34:20] I love that. I think that’s a great point to end on. Thank you so much, Karen. Karen Knott joining me today on Fab after Fifty. Thank you, Karen.
[00:34:28] Thanks so much, Carrie.
[00:34:34] Thank you for joining us today. Please do subscribe and also send the link to friends and be part of the pro age conversation. Life really is meant to be fabulous at every age, but especially after 50.