Here’s a number that might surprise you: 49 percent of people who are self-employed in the U.S. are Baby Boomers.
Doug Freeman says he’s seeing more people start companies and try working on their own later in their careers. “A growing number see solopreneurship as their only choice or the best choice because they’ll be taking control of their careers,” says the author of “Workarounds: 50+ Insider Tactics for Age 50+ Entrepreneurs.”
Independent workers over 50 have a lot to offer. If you’re thinking about striking out on your own late in your career, Freeman has tips for emphasizing your strengths and getting a competitive edge.
Highlight Your Expertise
Showcase your years of experience. Make sure your social media profiles, website, resume and marketing pitches emphasize your current work in the industry, your recent training and anything else that reflects your relevance in the marketplace.
You might try using terminology associated with your projects and with hot areas in your field. For example, if you’ve worked on projects related to blockchain, cybersecurity, data analytics, artificial intelligence/AI, mobile technology or the Internet of Things (IoT), include those keywords.
Other general business terms that show you’re in touch with current trends and strategies include “change management,” “disruptive,” “innovation,” and “agile.” Freeman suggests thoughtfully including these types of terms in marketing content. If you promote more dated work, make sure it shows your depth of knowledge and past successes.
“If solopreneurs don’t have many current projects to describe, one solution is to write about hot industry issues. Showcase your knowledge or expertise,” he says.
Emphasize the Value You Bring
If you’re a highly experienced, skilled and knowledgeable solopreneur, you offer a lot of value to your clients, and you should price your services to reflect that. “Many potential clients assume they cannot afford experienced contractors, but you can shift the focus to the benefits of working with a senior-level professional,” Freeman says.
When a client has high-profile projects or tight time constraints, they need experienced talent. Freeman suggests focusing conversations on your expertise and experience. When you shine a light on the value you bring, cost is less likely to be an issue.
Show How You’ll Fit into the Culture
Clients want to know that you’ll work well with their existing team, which likely includes workers of all ages. Freeman suggests explaining exactly how you’ll do that. For example, you might say “Cultural fit is an important factor for teams working on projects like this and that’s why I’ve had great success with contracts similar to yours, because… .”
He suggests giving examples of past occasions where you successfully worked with younger managers and teams — but notes that you should emphasize processes and activities instead of emphasizing age.
“This is an opportunity to speak about collaboration skills and familiarity with the tools your client uses,” Freeman says.
Get on the Radar
Freeman recommends senior solopreneurs use their network of contacts to market their services directly to project managers and team members. “A high percentage of contracting opportunities aren’t advertised, so visibility — being on prospects’ radar — is an effective way to secure work.”
Even when projects are advertised, knowing someone connected with the project can give you a competitive edge, he says.
“I want to encourage senior solopreneurs to take the plunge and launch their own businesses,” Freeman says. “There’s an incredible amount of older talent out there that is equipped to help solve many problems businesses face.”