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Encore Careers: Becoming Your Own Boss

These days, retiring from one career doesn't necessarily mean quitting work altogether. In fact, entrepreneurs in their 50s and 60s have launched more new businesses over the past decade than any other demographic. Drawing on the knowledge and professional networks they've developed over the years, these older entrepreneurs are proving that, when it comes to starting a business, the adage "the older, the wiser" often rings true.

Why the business boom among older Americans?
For older business owners, entrepreneurship offers a number of benefits, such as:

  • The chance to pursue a lifelong passion
  • A more flexible lifestyle
  • Supplemental income
  • New challenges
  • The satisfaction of being their own boss

Of course, starting a business isn't a decision to be taken lightly. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, nearly half of new ventures fail within the first five years. Yet, despite these grim statistics, older entrepreneurs are often better equipped than their younger counterparts to withstand the hardships of business ownership. On the other hand, they may have greater family responsibilities and living expenses to consider.

Is entrepreneurship for you?
If you're thinking about going into business for yourself, keep these tips in mind:

  • Maximize your skills. What's your area of expertise? Take advantage of your experience and existing network.
  • Do what you love. Now's your chance to be genuinely, 100-percent passionate about your work.
  • Conduct a self-assessment. Be sure to consider your risk tolerance and acknowledge your limits. How driven are you to succeed?
  • Test the waters. Before you take the plunge, do your research and find a mentor in the industry you're looking to join.
  • Choose the right business model. Franchise, sole proprietorship, online business? The model you select can have a big impact on your success.
  • Take advantage of your resources. Work with your financial planner to determine how starting a business will affect your overall financial situation.

Launching a business comes with significant risks, as well as the potential for significant rewards. To increase your chances of success, it's important to plan ahead and weigh all aspects of the decision with your financial advisor. For more information and tips on becoming an entrepreneur after 50, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration's website at

2012 Commonwealth Financial Network