“When I’m 30, I’ll have a beautiful, tidy house, a perfect husband, 2.4 kids and a stable job I love”, thought your 20-year-old self.
Fast forward 10 years and the reality is rather different.
The house is a mess, your husband leaves his dirty socks on the floor, you have 2.4 tornados instead of the neat, polite children you imagined, and to top it all off, you want to start a business.
Should you really be throwing your working life up into the air to start again? To begin something you have no idea what to do, you aren’t qualified for and which might fail?!
All these doubts are swirling around in your head:
- You should know what you want to do by now
- You are leaving a ‘stable’ job
- You’ll be throwing away years of training and knowledge to do something you aren’t qualified for
- To be successful you should have started in your 20s
- You need an original idea (and you should have thought of one by now)
- Once you leave your job you can never go back
- Everyone else knows what they want except you
But are these legitimate fears, or are they just myths that are stopping you from doing what you really want to do?
7 myths about starting a business in your 30s
You should know what you want to do by now
Why do we feel that we should ‘know what we want to do’ at any point in life?
Given the advances in modern medicine, we now live to a very ripe old age. The thought that we should be the same person or want the same thing for our entire lives is ludicrous.
If you think back to when you were 10, 15, 20, 25 years old, did you want the same things at all of these points in your life? Of course, you didn’t, because we grow and learn and change.
If, in your 30s, you feel like you are ready for a change in your career, then change it.
If you’ve spent 5, 10 or 15 years in one field, then it makes total sense that you might want to do something different.
We aren’t going to want to do the same thing for our whole entire lives. At no point will we find the ‘one thing’ that we want to do. It will keep evolving and growing, just like you.
You are leaving a stable job
The thought of leaving a steady paycheck can seem very daunting.
Business can take a long time to set up and turn a profit, so it seems like a huge risk to leave a regular salary for something completely known.
But is your job really that stable?
Everyone I know has either been in a company that has had redundancies or has been made redundant themselves.
The danger of being an employee is that you never really know what is going on, or what is being said in the boardroom (unless you are in it). So that ‘stable’ job you thought you had, could actually be quite precarious.
The second problem with being in a perceived ‘stable’ job, is that you may be spending all of your money each month, with the belief that you will keep receiving your paycheck each month. If you are made redundant and that paycheck disappears, you could be in real trouble.
Having a permanent job is a fallacy. No job is really permanent.
I’d argue, that if you have a good emergency fund saved to cover your expenses for 6-12 months while you start your business, you are actually at less risk.
You know you have your bills and rent/mortgage covered. You also know EXACTLY what is going on with your business cash flow, as you are in control of it, not a bunch of shareholders who value profit over people.
You’ll be throwing away years of training and knowledge
Ah, the ‘I’m not qualified for anything else’ worry.
After a decade in a career, you have built up a set of skills and knowledge, that serve you very well in your office environment.
But what about starting your own business? You have no idea what the hell you are doing and feel woefully underqualified.
You’ve spent years building up your career skills, maybe you should just stick where you are, otherwise, all that time spent learning will be wasted.
Truth number 1: No one knows what the hell they are doing when they start a business, they figure it out as they go along.
Truth number 2: Many of those skills that you think are ‘career’ specific will actually serve you very well in your business.
All of the resilience, adaptability, people skills, time management etc you learned in your job will be invaluable in your business.
And if you hated your job and thought the business you worked for was awful, well now you know what not to do!
You should have started in your 20s
There is an interesting article on CNBC about the myth of the 20-something start-up founder which you can read here.
It says that the stories of the billionaire founders who started their business in their 20s are not representative of the norm.
50% of founders surveyed by First Round (a seed stage venture capital firm) were in their 30s and a third were over 40.
It really doesn’t matter what age you start. As long as you start!
You need an original idea
You think that to start a business, you need to think of something that no one else has thought of. Something that will blow everyone away with your genius originality.
This is a fallacy. I spent so long trying to think of a business idea. In the end, I started this blog. There were 30 million bloggers in the US alone in 2017, but I decided to set one up anyway.
Why? Because no one else will write exactly like me or have the exact same opinions as me. I work hard, I know I have transferable skills, so I thought ‘screw it’, I’m going to give it a go.
There are so many successful businesses out there, cleaning companies, coaches, bookkeepers, graphic designers. Most of them are not original, but what makes them unique is the person who started them.
Each one will have different branding, different customer service, different tone of voice. And that is what makes them stand out, not the idea itself.
Once you leave your job you can never go back
Leaving your job to start a business feels like you are shutting the door to your corporate career, deadbolting it and then pouring 6 tonnes of concrete in front of the entrance.
It feels so final, and like your business HAS TO WORK or else the world will collapse. This is an enormous amount of pressure to put on yourself and makes starting a business feel even riskier.
The reality though is, you could start your business and then decide it isn’t for you.
Maybe you realise that what you want is to reduce your hours, so you become a consultant in your previous field instead. Or, you get a job working 3 days a week in another, less stressful company.
The point is that you aren’t happy with your current job which is why you want to make a change. Maybe that change isn’t starting a business, but until you try, how will you know?
You can always go back to your previous career, a 6-12 months gap in your CV can be explained as a sabbatical. No big deal.
Everyone knows what they want except you
Ha! This is the biggest myth of all.
Most people do not know what you want. But they continue plodding to their job every day because they don’t know what else to do or they are too scared to do it.
You are not alone and you are not abnormal.
I bet if you speak to your friends, most of them will feel exactly the same as you.
So how do you make the decision to leave your corporate career and start your business?
You just decided to do it. That’s it. No fanfare, no lightning strike. You just decide and then take the first step.
What that first step looks like is down to you, but here are some ideas to help you get started.
Start saving for your escape fund
Decide which business idea you are going to go for
Free up time to start working on your business
Research tools to help you get set up
Make peace with the fact that you have no idea what you are doing!
Understand that other women who have successful businesses, are down-to-earth people like you who just decided to start
I have interviewed a number of successful women who quit their corporate jobs to start their own businesses. These could be really helpful for you to read.
The interviews are packed with interesting information about how these women manage their time, how long it took to earn a full-time income etc.
You can read the published interviews below!
- Interview 1: Ellie Frost, Brand Strategist, and Business Coach
- Interview 2: Rachel Creeger. A comedian, writer, and director
- Interview 3: Laura Peli. Executive Career Coach
- Interview 4: Monika Wawrzyczek. Mystique Lash Salon, and Academy
- Interview 5: Louise Winter: A Modern Funeral Director
- Interview 6: Georgia Gallone. Digital Marketing Consultant and App Founder
- Interview 7: Ekua Kant Afterwork Drinks Service Founder
- Interview 8: Hannah Xu: Tax Consultancy Founder
- Interview 9: Emma Parker: Virtual Reality Company Founder
- Interview 10: Alexandra Taylor: Founder of a Cognitive Hypnotherapy, Coaching, and Wellbeing business.
- Interview 11: Camilla Ahwazian: Online Rug Store Owner
If you feel like you need a change, then you need to address it, as that feeling isn’t going to go away.
Don’t feel that because you are 30, it is too late.
Our working life is generally between the ages of 21 and 67. I can’t even eat the same breakfast for 5 days in a row, let alone do the same job for 46 years.
You could have four careers/businesses in your working life, that would still give you 11.5 years in each career or business.
So you could start a business in your 30s, run it for 10 years and then change careers again in your mid-40s.
So it isn’t age that is stopping you right now, it’s fear.
Once you recognise that, you can decide to feel the fear and take action anyway. You have the skills to do it, and any that you don’t have you will learn along the way.
Here are some more posts that will be useful for you!
- 35 motivational quotes for women who want to start a business
- The unconventional advice you need before you start your business
- 10 reasons you haven’t started your business yet
Are you thinking about starting a business in your 30s? Were any of the above myths stopping you?