The winds of change are blowing. Over the last decade there has been a steady rise in the number of women who have moved away from the beaten track and started up. According to some of the leading accelerators, there has been an uptick in business pitches received from mid-age women-led ventures to 15 – 18 per cent from 2 – 3 per cent in 2007. As a startup nation, we still have a long way to go. As per a survey done by Washington-headquartered Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute (GEDI), of the 17 countries surveyed in a women’s entrepreneurship-focussed survey, India ranked 16, just above Uganda. This was in 2013. But even if such a survey were to happen today, India may have improved its ranking by a notch and that’s not enough.
It is heartening to see a section of educated and semi-skilled women taking the plunge, but what is more exciting is to see starting up is no more a youngsters’ game. In an entrepreneurship model, the number of women starting up in their 40s and 50s is a fast-growing segment.
Shalan Dere, Founder, Potter’s Place, started her pottery venture at 45. Prior to this, she was running a small scale-manufacturing unit for over three decades. Vishakha Singh, Founder, Red Polka, an online fashion discovery platform, also started up at 41. She is a shopper-behavior and a marketing expert, having worked in marketing and strategy roles for close to two decades. She thought of starting a venture where she could leverage her domain knowledge.
These two varied examples sum up the kind of ventures mid-age women entrepreneurs opt for – passion or domain. A small number of women switch gears from their forte and startup in an area they are passionate about, while a section of mid-age women entrepreneurs feel it is a logical step to startup in the segment where they have worked for decades and can leverage their network and relationship to grow the business faster.
Remember ladies, as clichéd as it may sound, ‘it is never too late to start up’. Don’t listen to those mentors and investors who say starting up is a 20s phenomenon. And investors should take note that a mid-age woman entrepreneur is any day a better bet than 20-something entrepreneurs because
Be it passion-led or a domain-expertise-led venture, mid-age women entrepreneurs face a unique set of challenges ranging from lack of confidence, and attracting talent to raising funds. Here are a few challenges that may come your way and possible solutions that will help you cross any hurdle to realise your dream:
So don’t hold back. It is never too late to follow your heart and chase your dreams. Remember age is just a number. I want to end with lyrics from a popular song by an Australian Band – AC/DC — ‘It’s a long way to the top, if you wanna rock n roll’
Lady do the hard sell
Know the reason why
Gettin’ ripped off
That’s how it goes…
It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you wanna be a star of stage and screen
Look out it’s rough and mean
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)