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Be the boss: Senior entrepreneurs turn their passions into income

Some older adults turn their passions into income

Some older adults turn their passions into income with an at-home business that can be started inexpensively. "The Internet has made it a lot easier to start a business," says Paulette Nadel, a career coach and academic adviser at the Farmingdale State College School of Business. Credit: Farmingdale State College / Jennifer Wilbur

Who's the boss? Maybe it should be you.

About half the new small businesses created in the United States last year were started by people 45 or older, according to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focused on fostering entrepreneurship.

The reasons older adults start their own businesses vary. Some have been laid off from longtime jobs and can't find work in their field. But for others, being the boss has been a long-held dream. "Some have worked in a job their whole lives and they've been waiting for a time when they could start their own business," says Paulette Nadel, a career coach and academic adviser at the Farmingdale State College School of Business.

Nadel says some older adults turn their passions into income with an at-home business that can be started inexpensively. For example, Nadel says many creative people earn money from their hobbies by opening a "store" on Etsy (etsy.com), a Brooklyn-based online marketplace that specializes in selling handmade goods. "The Internet has made it a lot easier to start a business," Nadel says. "Basically, they can sit in their homes with their phone, with their email, with their computer and run an international business."

Others have found success by starting a "concierge" business that focuses on the needs of seniors, whether it's running errands or taking people to doctor appointments. "The younger baby boomers are helping out the older ones and getting paid for it," Nadel says. Some have gone the franchise route, which can get an entrepreneur up-and-running in an existing business relatively quickly. But Nadel notes franchises are not for everyone, and most have significant startup costs that could doom a business before it has a chance to succeed.

Need guidance on starting a startup? Nadel is presenting a free workshop sponsored by Farmingdale State's Institute for Learning in Retirement on Sept. 10 from 2 to 4 p.m. "Seniorpreneurship" will give you the basics on how to turn your germinating idea into an actual business. For would-be entrepreneurs who aren't sure what is right for them, Nadel will discuss types of businesses some older adults have successfully started.

To register for the workshop, call 631-420-2160 or send an email to ILR@farmingdale.edu. You also can get some tips and guidance on starting a business from the U.S. Small Business Administration at nwsdy.li/sba and the Kauffman Foundation at nwsdy.li/kauffman.

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