The pros and cons of starting a business when you’re over 40

Last week we announced our partnership with Fifth Institute, an organisation focused on supporting small businesses seeking to grow. As a recipient of funding from LaunchVic, Fifth Institute co-founder Bambi Price was recently interviewed by the team at Business Victoria on her journey.

When you get to the bottom of the extract here, we hope you will click through and read the full article on the Business Victoria website.

Bambi Price Fifth Institute
Bambi Price, co-founder Fifth Institute

After running businesses for more than 20 years, Bambi Price decided to start something new.

That’s when the lessons really began.

“I learnt very quickly you need to surround yourself with a team with complementary skills. In my failed startup we had three people who were all very similar,” she says.

Bambi co-founded Fifth Institute, a LaunchVic funding recipient that works with people who have at least 10-15 years experience in the workforce and are looking to start their own business.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Briefly, what’s your background?

I’ve had various jobs in the IT industry, including running a  recruitment agency and, later, a consultancy firm. About four years ago I decided I needed another change so I looked at moving into the start up world. Eighteen months ago I met my business partner, Michelle Homa, and we co-founded Fifth Institute, which focuses on helping small, scale up and start up businesses connect, collaborate, understand and market their business, to promote their best chance for success.

One of your previous businesses folded. What did you learn from the experience?

My first venture as a start up was one of the biggest learning curves of my life. I learnt very quickly that you needed to surround yourself with a team with complementary skills. Often I find people tend to gravitate towards like individuals (people who have the same passions and traits) but to work well you need to find others that balance and complement, rather than mirror, your skills. In my failed start up we had three people who were all similar.

We didn’t understand that our offering was not a priority purchase for many organisations and when money or funding was cut we were often first on the chopping block. While our clients appreciated our services,  the companies did not see it as part of their essential offerings.

How did you go from having no business to starting again?

Once we got over the battering that our egos took, we regrouped and decided to split up the association. I went back to consulting for a while, but I knew this was not what I wanted to do. I started attending meetups on starting businesses. It was then that I realised most of the information was focused on technology start ups. While I love technology, I see it as a tool to be used in all businesses, not just something to base a business around.

How did you get the confidence to try again?

I don’t think it was confidence as much as determination. I had run a company and yet starting a company from scratch was entirely different. You don’t have staff to work with. You and your partners have to do everything – from accounts to websites to writing content to marketing. There is no one else in the earlier stage. I wanted to share my learnings with others and not have them suffer the same hurdles.

Click through to the complete interview on the Business Victoria website to read Bambi’s answers to:

  • Your business, Fifth Institute, works with people who have had at least 10 – 15 years’ experience in the workforce who are looking to branch out into something new. Why are you targeting this demographic?
  • How hard is it for people over 40 to start from scratch? Is it harder than if you’re in your mid-20s?
  • What are the pros and cons?
  • What advice do you have for someone who is, say 40-50, and looking to take a chance? Should they put it all on the line financially and back themselves?
  • What are the most common mistakes you see people make and how can they avoid them?
  • Are you ever too old to start a business?
  • What’s wrong with retirement?

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