Tricia Cusden, founder of pro-age make up brand Look Fabulous Forever provides her top tips from her experience of starting a business in your 60s.
In January 2012 my granddaughter was born with a rare chromosomal disorder, meaning my role was to provide support to my family throughout this difficult year. By early 2013 my daughter had hired a special needs nanny to help care for the baby and I had gone back to work part time. After this emotionally challenging year, I felt I needed a new challenge and wanted this to be in a sector I was passionate about.
I have always loved make-up but as I got older, I saw this huge gap in the market for beauty brands that specifically catered for older women. I bought some expensive make-up that was meant to make me look fabulous but the opposite happened and I was extremely disappointed with how the products worked on my face. I realised that our skin and faces change as we age, so surely our make-up should reflect this? Thus, Look Fabulous Forever, my pro-age make-up brand was born when I was 65 years old.
When you reach your 60s, people assume you will be settling down for retirement. This, of course, is an appealing option for many, but it shouldn’t be an option for those who want to continue challenging themselves and their minds. Starting a business in your more mature years might be a daunting thought, but it should not hold you back, in fact all your previous work and life experience are hugely beneficial in business. Although there may be challenges starting a business at this juncture in your life it can be extremely exciting and give a purpose to your later years.
There have been relatively few challenges since I launched Look Fabulous Forever. Of course I wanted the business to be a success, but I thought of it as more of a hobby. I think the fact that I have been relatively relaxed about the speed of growth, this attitude has actually helped it to thrive. Ironically, the biggest challenge was actually born out of our biggest success! After appearing on BBC Breakfast on 31st December 2015, the volume of orders increased within minutes of the programme airing from an average of four an hour to four a minute! Watching the figures on Google Analytics was exciting and terrifying in equal measure! I thought the website might crash (it came close) and I also thought that we would run out of stock. After the New Year break, I drove to both our supplier and our delivery company and asked for their help. They both responded magnificently and within a week we had cleared the backlog of orders, were successfully able to meet the increased demand and had kept all our new customers very happy.
What I learned from the above can apply to any business – it’s important to have a contingency plan, keep your wits about you and prepare for any eventuality. It is also essential to build positive relationships with people who are key to your business like suppliers, the people delivering your goods and other agencies who can help to build the business. You need to trust them and they need to understand you and your brand. If they make mistakes, this is a reflection on your business – customers only see the brand, not what goes on behind the scenes.
I have been lucky in the fact that my age hasn’t been a barrier to the success of the business. However I know there are still many people who do not take older women seriously because of their age. You just need to remind yourself that you do have a great idea, you do have a wealth of experience and you do have business acumen. Being over 60 need not stop you from becoming an entrepreneur. You deserve to run a business just as much as a younger person with a great idea for a new business.
It is important to note, that at the age of 60 or older, you should only risk what you can afford to lose. I would recommend not putting your retirement funds in jeopardy and instead make calculated and considered risks. I invested a total of £100,000 in my business and then sought external investors (some from within my family) to fund the growth of the business.
My overarching advice is not to fear a new challenge. If you are confident in your abilities and prepared, starting a business in your 60s can be extremely rewarding, and undeniably fun!