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  • ngaireblankenberg

The 50-year old entrepreneur. Part 2.

Am I crazy to think of starting a social enterprise at this stage in my life?

My new (ad)venture is to start a not-for-profit connecting schools and ‘lifelong learners’ to museums through technology. I’m doing this mainly because I think museum content is undervalued and underutilized with too many gatekeepers, and I want to change that.

And also because I am exhausted from the hustling and the dream-building of being a freelance museum consultant- a business I suspect is drying up anyway. Too many consultants, not enough demand… And because at almost fifty years old, I can’t really imagine re-entering the job market in which most jobs advertised seem to be at salary levels I was making 20 years ago, and probably wouldn’t hire me anyway. And because my kids are now off to university, and getting jobs and loans, and for the first time in 20 years, I can take on more risk and earn less. So I am learning new words- like EdTech. And Start-Up. And Venture Capital, Angel Investors, and Incubators. I am trying my best to apply them in context. I am so far out of my comfort zone, I don’t think I’ll ever find my way back.

I see all these young(er) confident successful people- who have seized the day, followed a hunch, and have managed to at least make enough money to hire people and have an office. They all seem to be so good at networking and pitching and positioning themselves. How will I ever get from where I am to where they are? I have a handwritten note taped to my computer: Be Humble, Don’t Quit. That’s my strategy. You won’t get anywhere unless you try. Learn from your mistakes. Etc.

Right now, I am talking to as many people as possible who have anything to do with Museum Education. Educational Technology. Apps. Start-ups. I am swallowing my pride, and the confident ‘I know what I am doing’ persona I needed to wear to convince people to hire me as a consultant, and asking for advice. I am asking stupid questions. I am putting my idea and my app wireframes out there and inviting comments and critiques.

I’ve talked to a couple of people who were kind of judge-y after which I definitely felt stupid and inadequate and thought ‘I can’t do this. This will not work.’ But I’ve talked to far more people- friends, relatives, friends of friends- who I’ve called out of the blue, whose time I feel extremely guilty for taking, but who have generously given thoughtful, encouraging, astute advice that is helping me inch forward.

And so I am. Soon I hope to put something out there for testing by strangers, but I’m not quite ready or confident yet.

In the meantime- if you have advice on... well anything really... I’m all ears.

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