Last April I taught a three-week series on Women and Money. It consisted of two cohort groups taking the classes on three consecutive Wednesdays or Thursdays. The 50 women attendees varied in age and wealth, but mostly over 50 years old. They were all concerned about one thing: making in through retirement without running out of money. Becoming a Bag Lady is a very real and familiar fear for many women of maturity.

“Sixty is the new forty,” I told them, “because think about it ladies, its likely that everyone here will live another 40 or more years. That’s time to start a business, find a supplemental income stream and take your income stream to a level that is self-supporting.”

This is About Hope Not Fear

The squawk box is broken on so many levels when it comes to talking with women about money, saving and business. Much of what we read about investment time-frames and retirement is old and does not take into account women’s longer life spans and the productivity that can be had. Reading up on successful businesses and other people’s accomplishments can be very helpful in crafting a reinvention plan. The primary ingredient is Hope- so do what you can to find it! Add that to consistent and thoughtful work and you may have something more triumphant than you thought.

Remember, Julia Childs wrote her first cookbook when she was 50 years old. Vera Wang didn’t enter fashion until she was over 40 years old. Tim and Nina Zagat launched their restaurant reviews when they were 51 years old and Zagat is world-renowned mark of culinary authority. Even Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of my favorite childhood authors, published her first book at age 65.

And to top it off: Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses) began her prolific painting career at 78 and one of her paintings sold for $1.2 million in 2006.

Awaken and Dream

The average business takes about 7 years, according to research and statistics, to reach a point of real profitability. That doesn’t mean it is a total struggle up until that point, it just means enough time has passed for it to become established; for the business to have worked through issues, for people and other companies to become aware of it and for it to enough clients, customers, and contacts to become profitable and stable.  Many businesses turn the corner faster, with owners making their full salary after the second or third years. Naturally picking a business with upward growth trend vs a shrinking or outdated business model is important. But sometimes, an old business just needs a new idea or direction to be reintroduced to a younger generation.

If you are 50 years old, it’s likely you could start, develop and maybe even sell a business by the time you are 65. Many women start small businesses that end up turning into very successful endeavors right out of their homes. If you are 65, it’s likely you will live to 90 or more with at least 15 powerful years left to create and grow an income stream that will support you later in life. Remember the one thing you have that every 30-year old does not have is wisdom and experience. Draw on this, while adopting new ideas and technology to solve age-old problems.

I am writing this because our social fabric has been communicating that all is not well for women over 55. A woman over the age of 55 is often economically undesirable in the workforce so earning capability working for someone else is much lower.  As Barbara Jaworski so eloquently puts it in this article “Ageism is the last bastion of prejudice in the North American workforce.”

So take a stand and debunk the myth that all ends with the latest asset allocation report. Some resources you might like to inspire you are the Harvard Business Review Article and understanding you DO have enough time. Inflict Radical Self esteem on yourself. Rebrand yourself using these tips. Take a chance and reinvent yourself by adapting and awakening your new 40 by becoming an Encore Entrepreneur!