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Over 50 and looking for a business mentor? The Small Business Administration and AARP Can Help

Over 50 and looking for a business mentor?  The Small Business Administration and AARP Can Help

By Natalia Olson-Urtecho

SBA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator


Our country has always been proud of our entrepreneurial spirit.  But, great business ideas don’t just come out of college dorm rooms.  In fact, “encore entrepreneurs” - people age 44 to 70 - are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States.  A 2010 survey by the Kauffman Foundation found Americans age 55 to 64 start new business ventures more often than any other age group, and newer research shows one in four people age 44 to 70 are interested in starting their own business or nonprofit in the next five to ten years. 


This is an exciting area, especially considering there are 76 million people over the age of 50 in the United States.  That’s why this April, as part of our efforts to make sure small business owners and entrepreneurs have the skills and training they need to succeed, the U.S. Small Business Administration and AARP are teaming up to host National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Month.  With a special focus on entrepreneurs over the age of 50, we’ll be matching “encore entrepreneurs” with successful business owners and community leaders for advice and assistance.


Mentor Month provides a range of resources and online tools to entrepreneurs and small business owners over the age of 50.  The events connect encore entrepreneurs with mentors, such as those from SBA’s network of Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and SCORE chapters who help with strategies to grow an entrepreneur’s business. 


We know this kind of training can be critical for the success of a small business.  It can help folks bring their experience, knowledge and skills to a new venture, which creates exciting new opportunities and job creation.


According to a recent AARP survey, 15 percent of workers 45-74 are self-employed.  Additionally, 13 percent of those who are current wage and salary workers say they plan to start a business once they retire.  Small business ownership is a good option for many baby boomers.  Small business owners who get long-term counseling may see increased sales and hire more workers.


Throughout April, SBA district offices, state AARP offices and SBA resource partners will host events around the country.  Events include speed mentoring where experienced mentors share information during one-on-one counseling sessions, and workshops with entrepreneurs to discuss best practices from successful small business owners.  To find more events near you, visit www.sba.gov/mentormonth


SBA’s free online courses at www.sba.gov/encore help encore entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses.  And two SBA-hosted webinars in April are for current and potential entrepreneurs.  For more information, and to register, visit SBA/AARP Encore Entrepreneurship Webinar Series.


There’s no better time to start a business than today.  For Americans, especially those over 50, why not make April the start of the next chapter of your career.