Starting a new business can be pretty scary, especially if you’ve already built your brand in a totally different career field. For a lot of seniors, the standard 9 to 5 job isn’t as appealing as it once was. In fact, an AARP survey finds that 15 percent of workers between the ages of 45 and 74 are self-employed, and another 13 percent are planning to start a business upon retirement.
However, making the transition from full-time employee to entrepreneur in a rapidly changing economy isn’t always easy. That’s why AARP has partnered with the Small Business Administration to help 50-plus age groups take that first step with as little road bumps as possible.
“It helps them a great deal,” said Charee Gillins of AARP Southern California. “For people looking to start their own businesses or looking to re-career or fulfill a passion, you need some direction, some support…it’s all about connecting seniors to resources, support and training to help them build a business and maintain and grow the ones that they have.”
Gillins added that baby boomers are in the best position to start a business because they’ve gained a lot of knowledge over the years and have built a wide contact list from their careers and lives. “That’s a plus,” she said. “…You’re getting off to a pretty good start.”
But it takes a little more than experience to start a business, especially if you’ve never done it before. Mentors help answer a lot of questions senior business owners have about the marketplace, such as how to get started, how to create marketing plans, how to gain capital and how much money is needed, said Gillins.
“That’s why it’s so important to connect them with mentors who can guide them to do that,” added Gillins.
For the past three years, AARP and the SBA have hosted a number of in person events where seniors can attend and get more information. This past weekend, AARP hosted an event in Whittier where almost 200 people attended.
“One of the things that they heard about and were most interested in is how to use technology to grow their business if they’re currently an entrepreneur,” said Gillins. “What types of technology should they be thinking about if they decide to open a restaurant or a flower shop?”
Gillins added that iPads, Square technology for transactions, and social media were among the most talked about items at the event, which was a big eye opener for some of the attendees.
In addition to hosting events and pairing seniors with mentors, the SBA website also provides boomers with a number of how-to resources, such as the process of applying for a loan.
“Just knowing that AARP and the SBA are here to help is a big motivation for people who want to give this some serious consideration,” said Gillins. “You’ve got two large organizations who are rooting for you and are wanting you to succeed. That’s why we’re targeting all of the resources that we have and working together for people in this demographic.”