Image of a man not intimidated by tall barriers.

In the online world, age is an invisible barrier

blog opinion Sep 21, 2022

For years, we have heard how people have broken a glass ceiling by becoming the first person to do something. At the same time, seasoned citizens are often told there is a cement ceiling to their careers.

"It's time for you to step aside and make room for the younger generation," people over 50 are often told by their superiors, coworkers and even families. "You've had your shot. Now give someone else a chance."

What a ridiculous statement to make! It suggests we are only given one opportunity to make a difference with our lives. If we don't accomplish all we want to do before we get to 65, 60, 55 and now, at some companies, 50, then we don't deserve another chance. No way!

That may have been true 20 years ago when seasoned citizens either worked for companies or held minimum wage jobs in retail stores and restaurants. However, the internet has changed all that. In the online world, age is an invisible barrier.

You don't really know whether the person you are communicating with via email or an online chat is 20 years old or 70. Sure, there are telltale signs that you're communicating with a youngster based on a few notable cues:

  • The person can't write in full sentences without resorting to "text speech" to make a point. "Imma gonna get a gr8 job. U want 2 go w/ me?"
  • The person, male or female, can't talk or write without casually dropping an F-bomb into every third or fourth sentence.

Thanks to the internet, people over 50 can start and run successful online businesses very easily. In fact, their life experience and accumulated wisdom often gives them an advantage. Here are just a few businesses people over 50 can start:

  • Amazon arbitrage

  • Event and party planning

  • Freelance writing, editing and proofreading

  • Graphic design

  • Grocery shopping service in small towns

  • Pet sitting or house sitting

  • Producing audio books or doing voice over work

  • Real estate investing

  • Teaching online courses

  • Virtual bookkeeping

There are literally hundreds of things people over 50 can do online directly from home where they can set their own hours and charge whatever they want.

The internet is the great equalizer because big companies occupy the same amount of online real estate as a solopreneur -- a single domain name. Yes, big firms have more money to invest in advertising, but solopreneurs don't need huge audiences or customer bases to be successful.

Just serving 100 people who pay $50 for a product service brings in $5,000 every month. So, how much do you need?

People don't know the person behind the website is a 65-year-old with zero employees. As long as you can solve their problem or deliver the results they're looking for, you're hired.

Any service you might need to help get your business off the ground, from website design to filing government paperwork, as well as any marketing help can be contracted out -- even to other seasoned citizens who specialize in those services.

What problem did you struggle with in life that you overcame? Teach others how to do it, too. What service were you hired to provide to a company? Provide that same service to smaller firms, but part-time. Companies are shedding full-time workers in favor of independent contractors all the time.

The firms would rather pay a contractor than pay a salary, provide insurance and pay employment taxes as well as rent space for a desk, buy a computer, etc., to have someone sit in a cubicle. Don't forget about managing the employee to ensure the work is done correctly and on time, as well as wondering if the person will actually show up for work.

If you're over 50 and you think your choices for making money are limited to part-time jobs or even spending one more day in an office working with people you don't like, then think again.

I've been laid off several times in my life. When the job ended, so did my entire income. I was over 50 when I started a business doing essentially the same work a company hired me to perform, except I had full control of my schedule, income, co-workers and customers.

If I lost one customer, it could hurt. But, I had the income from 20 others to offset the loss. Best of all, there was now a slot open to serve a new customer or make even more money by adding others.

If you're stressed about not having enough income or by the idea you could lose your job and, because of your age, have difficulty finding a new one, rest assured you really do have options.

I'd welcome the opportunity to talk to you about it. If you're a member of the Forward From 50 Facebook group, I'm offering a complimentary brainstorming session to help you plan a course of action. You can contact me either on Facebook or through the Contact page of the Forward From 50 website.

Remember, in 2022, age really is an invisible barrier

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