Jody Reeves, 53, dreams of starting a neighborhood seafood shop in Atlanta.
Will she fulfill her dream?
Research shows that the number of Baby Boomers starting businesses is increasing, according to a report by David Markiewicz, a business writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His report was published Sunday, Dec. 9. 2012.
Mind you, most businesses are still being launched by 20-somethings or 30-somethings. But those in the older set, who decades ago looked forward putting their feet up, collecting a pension and relaxing, are launching businesses by increasing numbers. Markiewicz quotes figures from the Kauffman Foundation, which says the number of people 50 and older launching businesses has increased every year in each of the last 10 years.
Also, Markiewicz reports, the percentage of new entrepreneurs ages 55 to 64 has grown to 20.9 percent as of 2011, from 14.3 percent in 1996.
What’s behind this trend? There is a combination of dreams and realities at work here.
For some, starting a business has been a lifelong dream that had to be postponed for years because they needed a steady income to raise families. Back when the 50-somethings were in their 20s, starting a business was risky. Having a job was not nearly as risky. One tends to be risk-averse when security is there for the taking.
In this economy, however, there are new realities. Having a job is more risky than starting a business. Companies are outsourcing tasks to avoid hiring people. So, instead of doing a task for a company as an employee, the company can hire you as a contractor to accomplish the same thing. No guaranteed salary and benefits to pay. No sick pay. No pension contributions. No disability payments.
Some Baby Boomers have found themselves out of a job, but not ready, able or eligible to retire. They have had to start over at the back end of their careers. They are starting businesses out of necessity, and hoping they can succeed.
According to Markiewicz’s report, Reeves doesn’t know whether her seafood shop will ever become a reality. “ Some days, it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, I can do this.’ Other days, I think I might just be better off to go work at Target,” Markiewicz quotes her.
There are a few considerations for anyone of any age when thinking about starting a business. First, do you have what it takes to make it through the launch phase, which could take years, before you see anything resembling a steady profit? Rule of thumb: if you need a paycheck tomorrow, this might not be for you – at least not now.
Secondly, patience and perseverance are essential. If you are the type to try something that may not work initially, then give up on it, starting a business may not be for you.
Thirdly, if you’d love to ditch your boss – if you haven’t already been ditched — but don’t know what you would do instead, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. There are lots of ways to make money without having a job. This is one of the best. If you are intrigued, you might think about getting set up BEFORE you have to, so that when you are shown the door, or when you can’t take it anymore, you can walk out with a smile because you’ve prepared for it.
Putting one’s feet up in retirement is a nice thought. But, to paraphrase poet Robert Burns and novelist John Steinbeck, the best laid plans may not come to fruition, through no fault of yours. Speaking “Of Mice and Men,” getting out of the rat race before the rats win is the best thing anyone can do.
Don’t wait until you’ve lost the race. Take a little time now to prepare so that the rats can only THINK that they’ve won. You will know something the rats don’t know.