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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Seasoned Executives Become Entrepreneurs
Ray Kroc started McDonald's at age 52 after years as a salesman. Colonel Harland Sanders franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC) at age 65.

"You're never too old" is the message in an Akron Beacon Journal article by business reporter Brian Charlton. The article points out that more and more seasoned executives are starting their own businesses.

The traditional thinking is that entrepreneurship is the domain of the young. Yet, the rate of entrepreneurship is greater among older individuals than you might guess.

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 40% of U.S. entrepeneurs are over 50. The 50 years-and-up age group actually has a higher percentage of self-employed workers than the population at large. Of workers 50 years and older, about 16.4% are self-employed, whereas only 10.2% of the workforce as a whole is self-employed. (See AARP report here.)

Expect this trend toward older entrepreneurs to continue, especially in the United States. Think most people nearing reitrement age are dreaming just about golf, travel and hobbies? Think again. The AARP report says that instead of settling into a quiet retirement, 80% of the Baby Boomer generation -- born from 1946 to 1964 -- plan to work after retirement.

This trend is especially prevalent among white collar workers. I anticipate that a notable portion of Baby Boomers who leave the Corporate world will join the ranks of entrepreneurs and small business owners over the coming decade. Why? As I pointed out recently in an earlier post, they will have the experience, business knowledge, confidence, and financial reserves to call their own shots.

That's what three of the entrepreneurs profiled in the Beacon Journal article did. I know, because they happen to be colleagues and friends. Ron Finklestein, who probably has had about a million dollars worth of training from Fortune 500 companies, now has his own business coaching other small business owners. Steve Rucinski, another seasoned executive with a blue chip background, and who also happens to be the brains behind the Small Business CEO blog, has started his own consulting business. And last but not least, is Dennis Adamkiewicz, a highly experienced engineering executive who now puts his expertise to work helping small businesses obtain SBIR grants, as this talk demonstrates.

Their stories are not unusual.

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