Sunday, 10 February 2013
What are you going to do when you grow up?
good things about being over 50. I recently found another one.
Everyone's heard of the Prince's Trust. Hardly anyone's heard of the Prince's Initiative, aka the Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise aka PRIME. Yes, I think it's one of those things where they chose the acronym first and then worked backwards.
At any rate, it's start-up support for over-50s. Which means that a few days ago I was in London with a dozen or so other people of around my own age all wanting help with starting their own business. It was the first day of a two-month course, three training days with lots of homework in between. And here's the best bit: it is all free.
OK, the course workbook has a photo of Prince Charles on the inside cover, but I'm not proud. I quite liked the idea of taking money from the royals for a change.
As it turns out, the money isn't coming out of Charles' pocket after all. Before we could get started, we had to fill in some forms in order to get some EU funding for the course. Cue grumbles from people too old to remember what was the last exam they took.
Then we had to work on defining the vision for our business. This is the hard bit: I struggled when I got made redundant and people asked what I was going to do next. Because all the books I've read (and I've read a lot) say you have to think very carefully about your 'elevator pitch'. And I'm still thinking.
Like most of my fellow students, I want do do something that uses what I already know about from previous jobs. After thirty-odd years at work, that's a lot of stuff: writing, editing, journalism, PR, managing websites, social media, plain English. I don't want to spread myself too thin, and I want to do something that will pay. And find people who will pay for it. So I need a plan.
This is something new for me: there was never a plan before. I fell into freelance writing after a bruising and inconclusive meeting with a university careers adviser, and followed my nose ever since. After a while that led to actual jobs. But I've never done the 'career ladder' thing: the only reason for doing anything was a) to earn and b) to learn.
So here I am: it's ten days since I left my job and I'm thinking now it was definitely a case of 'be careful what you wish for'. I was ready for a change, and excited about the chance, but I forgot I'd have to deal with The Fear.
Well, I'm motivated (because there is no alternative). And I'm determined. And I know that The Fear has never stopped me doing anything in the past.
It helps that there is support out there, too. I'm really glad I found it. But I just have one regret about starting on this programme: I wish they would not call us 'senior entrepreneurs'.