Starting A Business At 40
I started a business after being in the working world almost twenty years. While I always nurtured ideas, had a few side-hustle starts and stops, and had a file in my home desk drawer labeled “Start Your Own Business,” I did not go for it until I was 40 years old and unemployed!
Let me provide some context. At the time I started my first business, I had a 5,000-square-foot house with a healthy mortgage, a stay-at-home spouse, twins in high school (with college around the corner), and another child in fifth grade. Let’s just say there was a healthy amount of responsibility (financial, family, spiritual, and emotional) on our shoulders.
I went for it because I was downsized (fired!) from a struggling company that cut out a layer of management to survive. It took getting fired and having some savings and a severance package to actually go for it. I would probably call this “forced bravery.”
In starting a business, I had a modest idea of better ways to do things, having learned from some of the finest companies in the world: Pepsi Cola, Schering Plough Pharmaceuticals (now Merck Pharmaceuticals), IMS Health (now IQVIA), and SimStar Internet Solutions (now part of the Publicis Groupe). I also got a sense of what types of things and methods I did not want to employ from observing some poor practices in some of those same companies as well as other companies I came in contact with.
Here’s my twenty years of work experience in a paragraph. I came up the ranks (1984–1990) through accounting and finance, so I had a good discipline and foundation in numbers. This is/was particularly useful in doing projections, pricing, and managing the day-to-day operations of businesses. I moved into sales and marketing areas for a dozen or so years, and had the ability to apply my analytical skills in areas that were more art than science. As I moved up the corporate ladder, I was provided the opportunity to manage all sorts of great (and some not-so-great) employees in disciplines like technology, consulting, sales, marketing, and service. Being able to lead and manage these varied skills and personality types enabled me to round out my career in general management-type roles. All in all, it was a perfect 20 year ride in corporate America.
It was only after being in the business world for almost 20 years and being downsized that I was really able to contemplate becoming a real entrepreneur. Faced with having been employed by three different internet-based companies in three years and out of work, I could not contemplate the idea of going on more interviews and explaining the twists and turns and stumbles of the past three years. While I considered myself eminently employable, I was coming off three jobs in three years—so I did not look that employable.
So I decided that now was my time to try something. Fortunately I had that folder in my desk drawer at home, in which I was compiling ideas should the day (and guts) ever come to start my own business. It was in that folder that the idea for TGaS Advisors was born. Scribbled on a torn piece of paper was, “How do other pharmaceutical companies do it?” with some scribble about finding a “way” to answer this question for pharmaceutical companies.
In this series of articles, I will get into what it took to turn this piece of paper into a successful business.
Check out some of my other work here.
Originally posted on Forbes.