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By Need or Choice: The Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs

Updated on October 11, 2013
A time when one thought old age would never come
A time when one thought old age would never come

Not all baby boomers are created equal. Sure, most grew up in the same era, experienced the cultural and social changes, long hair, bell bottom jeans, peace signs, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, the Mod look,wide belts, drugs, sex and so on BUT not all of them bought "into" that scene. Those on the West and East Coasts determined how many carried on as the "youth culture" spread across America like an insidious communist plan. Those living in more conservative areas clung to the Elvis look and the 50's teen way of life but the dam broke in 1964 with The Beatles and British invasion.

Now, all these wild and crazy youths are, well, graying, if not already there. Many are retired and with grand-kids (some of them still feel too young for that!), some planned for the retirement well as their work years rolled by. Others, well, felt that the day would never come, the day when they will be THAT old. So, they did not plan for the future much but lived for moment because one never knows if tomorrow will come. Yet, it did and did and did.

Soon, years turned into decades and some started to realize they WILL make it to the "golden years" so they were late in the game when it came to retirement planning. According to stats, there are many of them between age 55-65+. Of course, during their work years, wages were lower and retirement planning was new along with IRA and Roth accounts. Not all of them were interested or savvy about such things because it is boring stuff. But, the overriding philosophy among them was, "live for today, not tomorrow". One could be killed at any moment. Some lost their nest egg for these years to ponzi schemes or stock market crashes, were talking hundreds of thousands in bad investments. At their height, had 130 employees under them, had a house in Florida and flew to NYC and London three times a month.

But now, the same person works for $9 hr. taking inventory just to make ends meet and augments it with savings that did survive. One never knows what the future will hold.

So, many aging boomers try to get a job. Sending out hundreds of resumes with no response. Many experts but because of their age and younger competition and how younger managers think of elder workers, they are not employed, even though they can do the job. After awhile, the boomers are forced to start a business of some sort, usually something they loved as a young person. One 64 yr.-old was in this dire situation and needing money. So, out of his garage, he started a business that deals with vintage drum sets. He set up a website and while the business has not made him rich, it does bring in money he would not otherwise have.

Other boomers did retire but are bored. This has drove some to start their own small pizza business after they took out a second mortgage from the home they live in. It is risk that should it fail, the money situation will be far worse. In this case, the 60 yr-old man was lucky. It did work out and the business does provide income.

But, for all the success stories, just know the odds of success are not in your favor according to statistics, where almost 50% of them fail. Most boomers only try this as a Plan B, a backup plan for the years of not investing in retirement or when their financials are in the red and no job is on the horizon. Most of these people want to start a business costing less than $10K. So, franchises are generally not happening.

The key is to love what you are doing at this stage. Make all the time spent getting the business to be a success seem like fun, not work.


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