Older business man

There’s a new type of entrepreneur on the business scene: Baby Boomers, also known as Boomerpreneurs. According to the website, Boomerpreneurs are leading economic recovery. Two US studies, one by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and one by the Small Business Administration support this idea. The first study found that it’s people over 55 that are starting the most businesses and the second report found that five million Americans are self-employed or own a business.
Longevity today means that many older people are changing careers late in life. Armed with knowledge of the working world, a lifetime of accumulating skills and a nest egg, many Boomers finally feel ready to discover their passions and find work that they love.
CNN Money’s Donna Rosato has interviewed many Boomerpreneurs to garner their advice for others and has published a series of articles on the topic. Research is the key to success. Research about trends, about finding a niche and about finances.

Jim Milligan, who formerly was a manager at 3M Company, enjoyed the oil and vinegar sampling shops that sprinkle Europe. He researched trends in America before opening such a shop here.

Jusak Yang Bernhard did his research to find a unique niche with an open market: he opened up a pet supply store that deals heavily in hypoallergenic products.

Marguerite Cole didn’t make such a leap. She went from sales training at Microsoft to opening up her own consulting service. She knew that her knowledge and skills could make her her own boss without taking her into unknown territory.

Sandi Bryant stretched her background. A former pharmacy manager, she thought of services she could offer that most pharmacies didn’t, assistance and aid for long-term care for the aging. Her company assists both patients and care-giving staff with a number of educational programs.

If you do go with an unfamiliar venture, get help from those that do know the industry. When Cindy Conde moved from banking to retail, she hired the former owner of a clothing boutique as an employee.

Many Boomers get impetus from combining their business interests with their personal passions. Ann-Marie Stephens switched gears from working as an executive at Circuit City to manufacturing products that help diabetics to eat in more healthy ways. Stephens was inspired because she has family members that suffer from the disease.

Personal passion is what helped GreenRide owners Bob Flynn and Ray Schofield weather the long days and low pay when they started their eco-friendly airport shuttle company.

Don’t neglect your social network when it comes to starting a new business. You’d be amazed at what support you may find among your old work and social contacts, in terms of advice, financial support and links to other helpful parties.

You can’t even do enough research when it comes to financing. You’ll have to be prepared for the costs of a start-up and weigh the risks realistically. Talk to other people in similar start-ups, figure out what you may have to invest and do without.

Cut back before you start, and see how you do at living much more frugally while saving up extra cash. How much are you willing to give up? How hard and long are you willing to work? What might your family have to give up?

Will your spouse’s income support you until things take off? Is working at your current job still an option while you save money for your venture?

If you’ll need to finance you may need to put your home up for collateral. This can be risky. Rosato offers some pointers. You can apply as a business with limited liability so banks can’t come after your personal assets. You may find websites that will pair you with banks and credit unions ready to finance you. Vendors you may be dealing with may also give you a loan if they’re excited about your idea.

Middle-age doesn’t have to be about decline – it can be the starting point of a new phase in your life. There is some risk-taking involved but older people are much better at calculating risk and they have much more to draw upon than younger entrepreneurs in terms of skills, contacts and savings. They’re also more likely to understand what their passions might truly be and be more ready to engage those passions when they understand how many working years they still have left. After a lifetime of working for others, Boomers can come to an informed opinion about what works and what doesn’t in terms of running a business and managing others. If you’ve thought about starting your own business, before or after you retire, there are plenty of resources you have to draw upon and much to be gained.

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