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Launch a Business After 60: Get Over Your Fears

Startup advice from a man who has done this twice


Is there an age that is too old to become an entrepreneur?

According to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation report, The Coming Entrepreneurship Boom, people age 55 to 64 comprised the highest rate of entrepreneurship over the past decade. I was among them and think that if you’re over 60 and considering starting a business, you should get over any fears and join in. Below, I’ll show you how.

Back in 2007, at 61, I decided to forego retirement and pursue ownership of my own business. To do it, I ended a 35-year-long career as a Macy’s Operations Specialist and opened a Batteries Plus Bulbs franchise in San Rafael, Calif. Last year, at age 68, I opened my second store in Santa Rosa.

(MORE: Open a Franchise in Unretirement?)

The idea of opening a business at an age when most people are winding down can seem tremendously daunting. “Can I do this by myself at my age?” and “How will this impact my family?” are just a couple of questions that may come to mind when thinking about pursuing entrepreneurship later in life.
However, as I’ve discovered, becoming your own boss can be extremely gratifying when you’re not ready to fully retire.

4 Questions I Asked Myself

Below are four of the questions I asked myself when deciding whether to pursue entrepreneurship. I hope they’ll help you in your decision-making process.

Will I be able to find the support I may need?

Although entrepreneurship has all of the perks of independence, it’s never a journey taken alone. There are countless networking opportunities you can take advantage of in locally as well as within the industry you choose.

A good place to start is the local Chamber of Commerce. (I wish I had done that before I made my leap.) It hosts regular events that business owners can attend to network with others and learn about community involvement, marketing opportunities and team development. Also, nearly every industry has a trade group providing resources to help keep your network large, strong and beneficial.

(MORE: Low-Risk Way to Start a Business in Retirement)

Franchising has proven to be a viable way to pursue business ownership as an alternative to launching a startup, since it can require fewer resources and less time and energy; the investment to open a Batteries Plus Bulbs store, for instance, is roughly $220,000 to $250,000. Franchising allows you to be in business for yourself but not by yourself.

If you’re contemplating becoming a franchisee, do your due diligence on the company by speaking with current franchisees. I developed great confidence in franchising with Batteries Plus Bulbs after some owners gave me a better understanding of the business model and the amount of training and support provided.

As part of its continued training and support, franchisors often hold periodic conventions for franchise owners to gather and collaborate on ideas, review best practices and learn about new tools and strategies to improve their business. Knowing that there was a group of franchise owners I could bounce ideas off of greatly eliminated my fear of starting a business.

Will the time and energy I invest in my business impact my personal relationships?

Opening a business takes a lot of work, energy and dedication. Often, at the beginning stages, that can mean longer hours and time away from family (unless they are your business partners). After opening my first store, I worked around 10 hours per day, six days a week. While that may seem arduous, and it is, it wasn’t a stretch for me. I worked the same amount of hours and days at Macy’s.

(MORE: ‘Shark Tank’ Winners Over 50)

As your business matures, however, you will develop a strong support system to help you operate more efficiently, reducing the amount of time you put into store operations. These days, I work about half the time I used to because I have a smart, talented group of people employed at my stores.

That said, I’ve found that some of the greatest benefits to being an entrepreneur are determining your own pace and schedule, along with the financial independence and lifestyle it can afford you. For me, the positive rewards of business ownership far outweigh any costs.

How do I determine if my business will be a success?

It’s crucial to extensively research your local market to gauge your prospective customer base, potential locations, traffic patterns and the competition. My 35 years of retail experience played a key role in helping me pick the right market for my first franchise store, since I’d been heavily involved in opening Macy’s stores and witnessed how the locations were selected and performed.

You should also seriously consider the industry you’re planning to invest in and its potential for long-term sustainability and growth. I was also looking for a business with multiple revenue streams and one that would let me call on business customers so I wouldn’t have to depend solely on retail traffic coming into my store.

How do I manage the demands of a new business?

Understanding the importance of establishing a professional and capable team to help execute your business objectives is a critical element when managing the demands of a new business. By delegating responsibilities to capable team members, you can serve in the role that most suits your desired lifestyle and skillset. For example, I focus on hiring and developing employees.

Doing your research, surrounding yourself with a strong network, learning about opportunities in your market and exploring different industries will help reduce your hesitations and let you pursue your dream of entrepreneurship and independence.

William Perin owns and operates two Batteries Plus Bulbs locations in San Rafael, Calif. As a franchisee, his locations are part of the nation’s first, largest and fastest growing national battery and light bulb franchise. Prior to joining Batteries Plus Bulbs, Perin spent 30 years with Macy’s corporate team, most recently as the Maintenance Director for Northern California and Hawaii. He also served in the U.S. Navy as a Plane Captain during the Vietnam War. For more information on Batteries Plus Bulbs and franchise opportunities, visit www.batteriesplus.com/franchising.

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