The Not So Grand Entrance
Have you enjoyed a performance so much that you clapped for more? This encore is quite common when you have enjoyed something and want it to continue.
Encore – “when performers in a live show give an additional performance after the planned show has ended.”
In recent years, the term encore is used in another context: to identify the mindset of the more than 80% of Americans who say they will work after retirement.
As early as 2008, statistics were showing that more and more Americans were choosing a second career at a time they could have chosen retirement. In a New York Times article, “Geezers doing good”, the geezers were the over 50 crowd who were using the second half of their lives to work on issues they identified as important. The author of the article wrote:
“If more people take on encore careers… the boomers who arrived on the scene by igniting a sexual revolution could leave by staging a give-back revolution. Boomers may just be remembered more for what they did in their 60s than for what they did in the Sixties.”
All humor aside, acting on the decision to seek one’s encore, is not like planning for a vacation and then taking off. Let me explain my experience. In business we would mention ‘barriers to entry’ in reference to the obstacles that make it difficult for a business to enter an industry. Two types of barriers to entry are those deliberately constructed by the incumbents in the market, or those which exist as a condition of the market. The barriers to entry as a baby boomer recreating a new career as an entrepreneur can be understood in the same way, as both structural and strategic.
When choosing entrepreneurship as my next career, in the latter third of my life, I have had to consider the issues that seemed like barriers to me because I knew nothing about them, like:
- Will I be eligible for a loan, a grant, an investment to grow my business? Can I find the like-minded nascent entrepreneurs, who are also over 50?
- Marketing and public relations are completely different today than they were even 10 years ago.
- I need to understand SEO, market funnel, backlinks, landing page, sales page, ecommerce, social media, tweeting…even if I chose a brick and mortar business.
- I can’t just go hand out fliers and wait until the customer shows up.
For example, I have a new BFF (yeah, I even earned text messaging jargon, though OMG is really the only one I use): Neil Patel for learning SEO, Brian Dean for backlinks, Hubspot for landing and sales pages. I don’t personally know these gurus, but I read their material that comes in my email all the time, because I need to know these things. I signed up for so many newsletters that my inbox looks like I haven’t deleted old mail for years!
The strategic barriers have been much subtler, but none the less, they are as real as though a wall was erected at my front door, and I was the one who erected it. These strategic barriers come from within. I don’t take chances like I used to when I was 20 or 40 or even 50. (At 50 I received my Ph.D.) I don’t worry about being too old, I am concerned about the need for perseverance and stamina. I HAVE to be concerned about having enough money for retirement, though if I were like some of the young entrepreneurs I read about, then I could say I will MAKE a lot of money from my business. I say to that: WHATEVER!
Making money should not be the driver behind any business, though certainly plays a major role. I read the young marketers online who say: “Make a six-figure income using our sales model.” Or “You can make over $20,000 a month by using our formula for sales.” I pretty much don’t have the approach of starting with how much money I want to make, and then working backwards.
I don’t use money as the target for my decisions. I am in business to provide a solution to a need I have identified, and yes, I hope I make money doing so. The Stakeholders’ Theory that a business exists to provide profit to the stakeholders may still exist in some companies. But I have always believed that John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, is on target when he says that entrepreneurs — though they want to make money — start businesses out of passion.
One more obstacle that has gotten in my way: mental barriers!
Let me explain.
Have you ever been somewhere and suddenly something happened you weren’t expecting, and had you not been there you would have missed it, but boy are you happy you were there?
I just heard Seth Godin’s first podcast Akimbo. I just happened upon it. Now Godin has a great reputation, of offering good advice when you weren’t expecting it.
So I tuned in to his first podcast called “Grand Opening”. And that is what he spoke about: making a grand opening, making a grand entrance, exploiting through marketing so that there is this huge happening so we all better be there, or we will miss it.
But he says:
“No this is not how I am going to start this new series. I’m not making a grand entrance. I’m sending an evite to people who have already signed up for some of my other things.”
And then he proceeds to ask the question: Why do we all assume there even needs to be a grand opening for something new?”
I agreed with him. And this is what I needed to hear. I think I’m doing ok with my progress of developing my business. I think I’m developing some good content. And I thought (notice the past tense here) I needed some good marketing before launching. I needed Facebook Ads, Google Ads, a marketing campaign to introduce my stuff to the world.
The last couple of days I’ve been on this negative talk that “I’m not ready.” “No one will like this, I’m a failure.” “Why did I quit my job to start this?” I had been feeling my passion and the full steam ahead I had been feeling, slowly start oozing out, through the cracks in the plan. And boy do I see the cracks.
And then a grand entrance occurred: I received an email to listen to Seth Godin’s podcast. That’s his grand entrance, an email. An email?
That podcast should have started with the words: Hi Anita, I’m glad you are listening because I wrote this segment just for you (and all the other fools who think everything has to be perfect to be presented.)
This was his explanation, that the minimum viable product, the sample, you might say, that is just good enough to show people what the rest could look like, should be the grand entrance.
You know what? My stuff may not be ready for the world. It is ready for some people to review, comment, suggest, and maybe share. It’s ready for me to just slip it out, invite a few friends to join me, and then go from there.
In my encore, I don’t expect anyone to clap and yell, “More, More!” In this case, the audience is ME. I cannot allow myself to spend time on what ifs. What if I don’t have a good idea? What if I don’t know enough? What if the product is not perfect? What if this is not what my ‘audience’ (the customers) want?
I have a plan b in mind anyway. The plan b? Pivot.
(Photo credit: Tim Mossholder)