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Starting a business over the age of 40 with Lisa Taylor

Need Some Inspiration?

It’s never too late…

A summary of Pedddle Founder Nicki’s IG Live chat with business owner Lisa Taylor.

Age is just a number! We often hear this phrase, but it’s one thing dreaming of starting your own business, but entirely another when it comes to setting it up. Once you’re a little older, you’re more likely to have a bigger mortgage, kids, a traditional career, and many other responsibilities. Aside from this, once you reach the age of 30, there is a complete lack of funding to start your own business or change career path and be an entrepreneur.

The number of jobs the average person in the UK has is between 7 and 12 over their lifetime… but it could be much more!

Sticking to a single job is not what we do now – we make career changes and leaps. We want more from our jobs, we place more importance on family life and home time, wellbeing, flexible working and feeling fulfilled and happy with our job direction – more than we (as a nation) used to. Nowadays, we do discuss these issues far more, but growing up, for many of us it was a discussion over ‘which job you were going into’, not ‘which business you were going to start’.

As people who have experienced the world a little, had ‘traditional’ career paths and worked for others, we see the gaps in the market once we’re over a certain age. We have a great work ethic – we know responsibility, we have ‘lived’. Surely we should be receiving more funding, as a ‘less risky’ option than younger people who don’t have these life experiences?

Lisa Taylor has had an amazing career in the fashion industry, yet has still experienced the ups and downs of setting up her own business. Her business, Lisa Taylor Design, offers the most gorgeous dresses, but she started up the highly successful brand completely on her own, after the age of 40. Pedddle Founder Nicki’s IG Live with Lisa was certainly an eye-opener, and may hold some motivation for you if you’ve ever questioned whether it’s ‘too late’ for a life change…

Let’s get to know Lisa!

Lisa has had an incredible career in Fashion – she worked as a Design Director at Oasis, a Brand Director at Karen Millen, a Buying Director at Warehouse and has also worked with top brands such as M&S, Miss Selfridge, French Connection, Jane Norman and more. She trained as a designer but always worked in buying, becoming an expert in sourcing and getting collections made all over the world. Lisa started her own business after the age of 40, so we thought she was ideal to talk to about her experiences.

What were your initial worries about starting up your own business?

Not knowing about being on the ‘other side’ of a business, and my lack of knowledge around the digital world, social media and marketing were my main concerns. Getting the collection together was the easy bit!

My routes to market and how to sell became my big focus, and so began a journey of discovery!

What were your biggest hurdles, both mentally and financially?

Setting up a website and mastering social media was tough. Being alone was really hard for me, as in the past I had a HUGE team who did all the general work and I just focused on the final vision and the creative ideas side. It’s about learning to wear every hat in your business – you have to be every single member of the team to start with.

Building a network is absolutely KEY for business – you can find your tribe on social media quite easily these days, and the support from fellow creative businesses will become invaluable to you.

What skills do we have (that may come with age!), that help when starting out?

General common sense! Wisdom and experience definitely come with age, you know how to handle people better in general. You’ll also have had experience of running budgets and working within a monthly budget for your bills, and having that experience of budgeting for a home really helps when you’re looking at the running costs of your business.

How is your mindset different around selling online, compared to in-person selling?

Selling online can feel detached and it therefore can feel like hard work when you’re having to create conversation. When I introduced myself to my audience, I created a real connection, and it make the world of social media ten times easier. Be brave and get ready to reveal yourself! It’s tough for many of us to get the courage to put ourselves out there and show our face and feel vulnerable, and in the end your audience will thank you with lots of online sales!

What have been your biggest points of business acceleration?

I trialled wholesale – then dumped it! It didn’t work for me at all. It just wasn’t right for my business model, so I launched selling events on IGTV and Instagram Stories instead.

Failure is just an experience – it’s all part of learning about the business journey so there are no wrong steps, just experiences that you learn from.

Scaling is difficult – it’s knowing that you can’t possibly create every single thing yourself once you start to grow, but deciding where you invest your time and deciding if and when to employ others. This is where funding can help, but it’s all about finding balance.

Do you set goals for yourself, and how has your business vision changed over time?

I set goals in terms of monthly and yearly turnover, but I also review how the business will look in 6 or 12 months’ time. I think it’s important to decide what your own long-term goals, how you want your business to work and how you want your lifestyle to look. For example, if you want to be a millionaire, you need to accept there may be levels of stress and hard work that come with that, but if you want to work less you need to work smarter and think about how you business can serve your goals.

What is your favourite thing about being self employed?

I’m an early riser, so I’ll be up for 5am, start work at 7am, then finish at 3pm – so in summer I can hit the beach! It’s about deciding the lifestyle that you want and working out your business goals from there.

I also have some freelance irons in the fire; I offer holistic therapies and coaching, and I work with different brands. When you’re a certain age there’s a lack of funding and it’s important to have back-up income sources. Don’t feel you have to focus solely on your one brand, you can also do different things and create cashflow from different places.

If you spoke to your younger self about your career, what would you say?

“You should have done it earlier!”. I went down the corporate route, which I was successful with, but it wasn’t necessarily the right path for me. I think lots of people identify with this. I was very wedded to the corporate life, and got too used to the big money, buying things I didn’t really need and falling into the money trap, thinking you need a certain security blanket. It’s easy to say to yourself ‘I just need to pay a bit more of my mortgage off’, but sometimes you just need to take the leap. It can stop you jumping in and being brave – just feel the fear and do it anyway!!

The main thing is to define your goals, so that you can set your intentions. You can’t achieve your goals unless you know what you’re aiming for! Envisage the life you want to lead – you may be able to sacrifice a pay cut but want to spend more time doing what you love. Decide what your ‘must haves’ are and work from there.

Watch the full IG Live chat here:

Where can we look for resources and funding?

Chambers of Commerce – this is a great resource and they have FREE courses too! The Chambers of Commerce is a network of businesses all over the UK, so this is a great source of inspiration as well.

Lottery Funding – if you’re working on a specific project this can be great – ideal for charities and not-for-profit companies.

The Princes Trust – Provides business support and funding, but only if you’re aged 11-30!