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10 Successful Businesses That Were Started in Retirement
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According to the Small Business Administration, 20% of the country's 2012 workforce is 55 or older, and the Federal Department of Labor estimates that percentage will continue to rise. With more people being laid off before retirement age, and the value of homes and 401(k)s plummeting, many retirees are continuing to work to supplement their incomes. While some retirees have no choice in this matter, some older and senior-aged entrepreneurs are starting for-profit and nonprofit ventures simply because they enjoy and want to keep working. Here are 10 individuals who created successful businesses after retirement.
1. Marketing For Mavericks
After taking a buyout after 24 years as a marketing manager for Coors, Cinde J. Dolphin discovered she missed working. At age 55, she began applying for positions in her field, but wasn't getting any calls. She decided to use her years of experience, as well as some of the money from the buyout, to create the firm Marketing For Mavericks, which helps California winemakers utilize social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms, in their marketing and public relations.
2. Aging in Place Technology Watch
Laurie M. Orlov founded the market research firm Aging in Place Technology Watch to help enable seniors, as they grow older and develop health-related issues, to remain in the home of their choice. Orlov, a long-time veteran of the tech industry, was inspired to create her firm after the passing of her mother in 2006. She is also active as a speaker, blogger, and advocate for quality elder care.
3. Pie Derecho
Time Out New York is an incredibly popular weekly entertainment guide, but for a long time, a similarly styled guide for the city's Spanish speaking population did not exist. After losing his job as a reporter for the Spanish-language financial news program Bloomberg News broadcast in Latin America, Norberto Bogard created the publication Pie Derecho to fill this niche. “I knocked on the doors of many investors, but nobody wanted to support it," says Bogard. "So I used money from my severance package. It was scary." Pie Derecho is now successful as both a print and online magazine.
Mary Tennyson created the StashAll line of specially designed tote bags after seeing how much difficulty her mother was having maintaining her balance carrying a purse while using a walker. Tennyson reached out to SCORE, which partners with the Small Business Administration, for mentoring and start-up business advice, and to WomenSage, a members group for women in the second half of life, for additional support and encouragement.
5. Certified Humane
Retirees are also moving into the nonprofit sector, starting their own nonprofits as a way of giving something back to their communities. Adele Douglass left her job at 57, raided her retirement account, and created her now successful nonprofit Certified Humane, which certifies that livestock for meat, poultry, and dairy products are treated humanely. Douglass' love for animals and concern for their well-being pushed her to create her nonprofit. "Of course, I didn't talk to a financial advisor first before I tapped my retirement money," she says. "I forged on ahead."
When the recent economic downturn impacted his work as a self-employed architect and general contractor, Wayne Miller shifted gears and created Earthwise, which develops "green-business" ventures and supports existing businesses to provide goods and services for a sustainable economy and future. Miller credits the uncertainty of the times for pushing him to reconsider his priorities as an architect. "The recession, oddly, has been very liberating," says Miller.
7. More Than Wheels (formerly Bonnie CLAC)
Frustrated by the predatory practices of banks and auto dealers toward customers, Robert Chambers quit his job at a large dealership and, along with business partner Leo Miller, founded the nonprofit company More Than Wheels. More Than Wheels helps low-income people obtain fair deals on reliable, fuel-efficient automobiles. Since 2001, the nonprofit has helped more than 1,500 families finance more than $15 million in loans, allowing them to buy a car and build up good credit history.
8. Executive Coach for the health care industry
In order to acquire new skills, some retirees are going back to school. Philip "Bill" W. Smith Jr. spent several years working in hospital administration before considering a new career in the field of executive coaching. Taking the plunge, he invested in a certification course that included 80 hours in the classroom and a 12-week practicum. Smith now offers executive coaching services to those in the health care industry, a field he was already very familiar with.
9. From Where I Sit
Formerly a project manager at a major bank, Dorothy Atkins used her severance package to help launch her greeting card company From Where I Sit. The company's unique cards are based on Atkins' own "doodles" and "pearls of wisdom" she gathers from friends and family. She is also a successful painter, with works in private collections in the United States, Canada, and China. On her blog, Dorothy Paints, Atkins sums up her philosophy: "Do as much as you can for as long as you can."
10. The Doctor Marion Foundation
Marion Somers owned a private geriatric-care management practice before starting Doctor Marion Inc., a foundation and clearing house providing advocacy, data, and resources for elder-care givers. The Doctor Marion website provides tools and information for anyone with questions about elder-health care. Somers has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and several other morning television shows. Her public service announcement, "Dr. Marion Minute," airs on more than 300 radio outlets across the country.
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