In 2009, Michele (Mickie) Muirhead, now 50, decided she wanted to start her own business, launching HireTheHelp.com in Jamestown New York.
HireTheHelp.com offers house cleaning , elderly care, vehicle detail services (pick-up and delivery), and assistance with computers, pet sitting, landscaping, painting, handyman services, snow removal and almost anything you can imagine in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Warren counties.
Muirhead says she was looking for something different. After rupturing a disk in her back she was physically unable to perform at her cleaning business. So out of a desire to help individuals, and use her degree in social work, Muirhead sought business startup advice from the SBA’s Small Business Development Center at Jamestown Community College.
“Jamestown SBDC Business Advisor Curt Anderson was extremely helpful. He has so much energy and motivation. His entrepreneurial advice and concern for my business helped me to use my years of experience and connection to start a business to finally pursuing my venture.”
After the experience, Muirhead was determined to get the word out about her business and the services she was able to offer. She focused on hiring and interviewing independent contractors, preparing her business plan and launching the only referral service in town.
“I consider myself blessed,” Muirhead said. “At the very conception of HireTheHelp.com I met Mike Montes, a graphic designer, artist and web designer; he saw a budding entrepreneur with a great idea, gave me a multitude of business advice and assisted me in the design of my brochure and logo. The wisdom and confidence he gave me is immeasurable.”
Today, HireThehelp.com is thriving with over 100 contractors providing services to individuals in Jamestown and the surrounding area. Muirhead has returned several of the unemployed back into the workforce.
One in four individuals ages 44 to 70 is interested in becoming an entrepreneur and 63 percent of Americans plan to work during retirement. SBA and AARP joined forces last year to reach out to baby boomers and provide training and mentoring services for older entrepreneurs to start or grow their small businesses and create jobs. To date, the SBA/AARP alliance has reached almost 50,000 current and aspiring 50+ entrepreneurs with counseling and training programs.
As a referral business, Muirhead was experiencing difficulties in obtaining insurance. When she heard about the SBA’s Encore Entrepreneur event in Jamestown, New York, she knew she was ready to reach out again and obtain the business advice needed to keep her business running.
Business advisor Curt Anderson who previously worked with Muirhead came to the rescue once more. “Working with Curt at the SBA and AARP Encore Entrepreneur Event, I was able to develop my contracts and policies with Curt and learned how to provide excellent customer service. The event allowed me to meet with the mentors and resources needed to continue to grow my business.”
Muirhead’s advice to other 50+ year old entrepreneurs is “feed off your passion, your passion is what drives you to completion. Make sure you feel good about what you are doing and that it’s useful to others.” Muirhead is very proud of the difference she makes in people’s lives.
Throughout September, the SBA Buffalo District office will host three Encore Entrepreneur events on September 12 (Canandaigua), 13 (Albion) and 17 (Ontario). For more information on these events, please visit Aarp.cvent.com/NYEntrepreneur.
SBA developed a 50+ toolkit, at www.sba.gov/encore, that includes an online self-assessment and other free online courses targeted at helping encore entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses.
The training courses include profiles of successful entrepreneurs, recommended action steps, and information on licensing and financing. AARP resources can be found at www.aarp.org/startabusiness.