Califonia, USA – Being 50 and older, it seems important to be in charge even with the knowledge that it is not everything it seems to be.
Like Tony Uzzi for example, after 30 years of daily grind in other traditional jobs, he accepted a buyout from a pharmaceutical company and ventured into the world of business.
As a pharmaceutical salesman, instead of having a fairly predictable schedule, work can interrupt just about anything.
Uzzi was sitting in a restaurant with his wife; their bottle of wine was still being opened. The next thing he knew he dashed off to an elderly client of his Nurse Next Door senior care franchise to make sure he was okay.
Uzzi comments about his business, “it is 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Uzzi adds, “it’s a challenge.”
It is always just a passing thought when it comes leaving their jobs to startup a new business. But as time passes and their age get higher they learn to let go and entertain the thought.
During the Great Recession, there were a lot of people over 50 that took a chance in starting their own businesses, and the companies that they have started grew. It was often because of the stiff job market. And sometimes family or any other personal situations trigger the need for change of something more flexible. Most of the time, like any other new beginnings, running everything and calling the shots for the company takes a lot of adjustment.
Uzzi initially launched an executive coaching business that made use of his experience as a manager. But he was bored and the money that came in was not enough. He began looking around for a franchise and decided on the Nurse Next Door, this drew on his background in health care. He started the Nurse Next Door franchise after taking the buyout in 2010.
The adjustments he experienced were the interruptions he encounters, running the franchise comes with myriad of duties, drumming up sales and hiring.
Uzzi runs his franchise in Orange County says, “The constant drive to get clients, the constant sales calls. It’s finding good caregivers.” He continues to look for new contacts like local attorneys and churches can refer him to clients or refer clients to him. He now has 15 clients and he is trying to look for more.
Kauffman Foundation made research about the trends in entrepreneurship and it shows that more people ages 55 – 64 turned to business ownership during and after the Great Recession. People in that age group’ entrepreneurial activity rose from 2007 – 2009 according to the foundation’s index and logged a scant decline in 2010.
A big confidence booster for Lori Ames when she started her public relations company in 2010, The PR Freelancer. Some of the older entrepreneurs stick with the industry they are ever so familiar with and make use with the experience they got over the years.
Ames says, “Being 53 and having enough work and life experience made me go into this in a smart way.” She launched her business after her 22-year-old son was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. The change of direction for Ames lean towards the need for flexibility of her schedule so she can take care of her son and this allows her to work near her Babylon, New York home.
She has been doing a lot of book publicity and other public relations in Manhattan for more than 20 years, so getting clients is not much of a worry for her. But what’s chilling about the whole thing is the idea of becoming the employer for the first time. Ames was able to hire the first 2 staffers, because her business grew so much after 9 months. But what’s stressful is being the one responsible for someone else’s salary.
According to Ames, “that was more nerve-wrecking than starting a business.”
Other older entrepreneur ventured to franchises because it is easier than building a company from the ground up, also the money rolls in sooner. Franchises also come with a ready-made business and marketing plan. The Next Door Nurse franchisee, Uzzi, spent $100,000 to buy and set up his franchise, a far cry from what it would take to establish a new business.
Uzzi says, “I didn’t have $20 million to dump into establishing a brand.”
In the last 6-9 months, the average age of new Nurse Next Door franchisees is 56, up from 45 years old. The Nurse Next Door franchise seems to attract older franchisees. John DeHart, CEO of the company says he is getting more inquiries from older prospective franchisees than in the past.
When the job market for accountants looked dicey and looked like it was going to stay that way, Mark Whitworth who lost his job 2 years ago at age 50, had to think about another direction on his career, even if he didn’t plan to become a business owner.
Whitworth then opened a carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise last September. He isn’t turning a profit yet but he enjoys the autonomy that comes with running a company even if it means working 6 days a week.
According to Whitworth, “It really does feel good to be the one to make the decisions and deciding the direction your business goes in.” His business is a Neighborhood Chem-Dry franchise in Dallas.
He is optimistic that his business will start making money soon as he gets more clients.
Whitworth says, “You have to be patient and build up a reputation.”
Starting a company while still working for someone else is another story. William Ryan is a salesman for a consumer products company in Boston area. But last month he became a franchisee at age 52. He opened a Lapels dry cleaning business. This is fueled by the goal to help pay for college of his 2 children. But he also worries about the job market.
Ryan says, “I have a friend who’s worked for a company for 30 years and just got a layoff notice”, he adds “I’m doing this as a safety net and as a financial security blanket.”
Ryan is in the store on weekends, which has 2 part-time workers. Ryan still works on his regular job.
Among other franchisees and business owners, Ryan deals with payroll, insurance and other aspects of running a business. Even with just opening the store it required a lot of paperwork.
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