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Over 50 and Ready to Start a Business? Free Resources To Inspire You to Make it Happen

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Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 07:38
Created: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 07:36

Over 50 and thinking of starting your own business? Looking for real-world, actionable information to start your own business?Image of encore entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs over the age of 50 are one of the fastest growing groups of new business owners. Perhaps you are looking to turn a hobby into a business and finally have the resources to do so. Or you want the flexibility or supplemental income that running a business or being your own boss affords. With a lifetime of experience, skills and connections under your belt, why not?

Making it Happen

Take, for example, Portland-based husband-and-wife team Dave Faul and Sandra Yates, who started Wash n’ Roll Pet Grooming business after more than 25 years of employment in the women’s apparel and real estate industries respectively. Both Faul and Yates were animal lovers, but when Faul suggested that they start a business washing dogs and cats in a van parked a client’s curbs, Yates said, “Thinking he was nuts was an understatement.” However, after three years in business, Wash n’ Roll has expanded to two vans and serves the entire Portland metropolitan area.

Faul began research for a new business when he realized his job could evaporate in a corporate merger or store closure. He learned that the U.S. has a $30 billion pet industry. He also looked at who spends a lot of those dollars. “The baby boomers, whose children are getting older or who are empty-nesters, are willing to spend money on keeping their fur kids happy,” he said.

Sounds a common enough business venture, but mobile pet groomers weren’t prevalent in the Northwest at the time. Faul attended a pet grooming school in Albany for six months, and Yates wrote a business plan.

In need of funding, they approached local bankers who said the business had to operate for two or three years before they could get a business loan; instead, the couple paid their own startup costs. They also received assistance from SCORE. SCORE members volunteer as counselors for small entrepreneurs. “They were really helpful,” Yates said, “and it was surprising that it was all free.”

Growing mostly by word of mouth, the business now has three part-time and three full-time employees.

More Nuggets of Wisdom

Other entrepreneurs who have found success at 50+ talked to AARP and offered the following useful tips for aspiring encore entrepreneurs:

"Find a business mentor. I went to SCORE. Having a good mentor helps you cut through the BS. They will tell you like it is. Do you have a good idea? Will your concept work? Once you're 50, you don't want to waste your time." Annemarie du LeBohn, 51, launched a motivational speaking business after a former career in corporate marketing.

"Develop your team, people who will help you take your business where you want it to go. For me, it's my business coach, website support and others. Take the risk and have fun. Unlike during my younger years when I wanted to prove myself and was driven to 'be successful,' this time around it's about leaving a legacy and pursuing dreams. It's about incorporating my business and retirement goals with my personal values." Barbara Hyatte Boustead, 61, a licensed clinical social worker for 37 years, runs Mary's Daughter to provide daily money management services to older adults and veterans.

"Know your product and know how to sell it. If you are familiar with the saying, 'selling ice to Eskimos,' you will be aware of the necessity as an entrepreneur to develop good salesmanship. You must develop the ability to sell, or better put, to convince people to buy. Also, think carefully about how to market your product, and be 100-percent confident about the merit of your product or service. My long career in the arts taught me one important lesson: if the main door is shut, look for the side or back door. They always exist and are much less guarded." Yuval Zaliouk, 74, a former orchestral conductor, who at age 50, (while still conducting) started Almondina Cookies, an online cookie business.

Inspired? – Free Resources that Can Help You Start your Encore Business

Check out SBA’s 50+ Entrepreneurs web guide for tools, resources and training that can help you assess your readiness to get started and walk you through the steps involved in starting a business – including connecting you with a free mentor, finding the right business type (home-based, online, etc.), as well as the legal and regulatory steps involved such as incorporating your business, getting the right permits and so on.

Type: Community Blog