A growing number of us can now expect to live close to or past 100 years, so 50 has become midlife. Today instead of approaching midlife with the obligations of work and family, baby boomers are looking to a second half they pretty much design as they wish. For many of them, the results don’t look much like what their parents and grandparents called retirement.
Whether because of layoffs or because they’re weary of their jobs, many are considering new possibilities for their post-50 years and that includes starting a business of their own. Many of these business endeavors combine their passions and talents into a revenue-producing career. This marriage fits their goals in ways a salaried job rarely could. Some work full-time, but some work part of a day, week, month, or year. Many are pursuing work similar to what they did when employed, while others are staking out entirely new careers.
The obstacles that post-50s face in starting a business are not substantially different from those anyone else faces when becoming self-employed. Without exception, most consider their age as an advantage in communicating credibility to clients and customers.
What a difference from the ageism experienced by so many on the job! No wonder the U.S. Small Business Administration is finding the ages of start-up entrepreneurs is trending older.
I know of a friend who after a 30-year career as a journalist found his work shifting from working on articles to working with administrators. The bureaucratic and political hassles that came with the job of editor of a consumer magazine were no longer what he wanted.
Figuring there was a good chance he’d live to 90 or beyond, he started thinking about what he wanted to do with the next third of his life. Luckily he’d developed a passion for pottery in his 40’s and the more he did it, the more he liked it. So when offered a chance to retire early at 63, he jumped at the chance to turn his hobby into a second career.
His biggest challenge was to find ways to market his work, and he found doing studio sales several times a year worked for him. He and his wife purchased a 20-acre home in Virginia, and remodeled a four-stall barn into a studio workshop and living quarters. Three years later, between the studio sales, galleries that carry his work, annual crafts shows, his Web site and some great publicity his business is growing well.
Best of all he loves what he does and envisions doing it until they carry him out. He sees no reason for not having another 30-year career after his first. More and more “old gray mares” are following the same path. So if you’re nearing or are 50, you are coming up to bat in the second inning of your life. Why not hit it out of the park!