Karen Sands and I have a lot in common; in fact, as I’ve gotten to know her and her work over the past months, I’ve had the sense of encountering a kindred spirit. We both share the conviction that we are living at an important moment in history. We have both experienced the ways in which people—our clients, our friends, and ourselves included—are changing the ways we live, work, and grow older. Finally, we both understand that this is the perfect time to reinvent yourself by launching your own business—especially (NOT “even”) if you are part of the huge (and growing) group of Americans identifying as Boomers, Matures, or older adults.
You see, I’m an encore entrepreneur myself. Encores are business owners who are 50+ years old and launching their “next acts”…not slowing down. We are taking the expertise we have gained after decades in the workplace and using that expertise to identify our deep and narrow niche—that place where our passions and skills intersect, allowing us to make a living by doing the work we love.
I’ve worked with small businesses for over 30 years, so I’ve had some time to think about all this. As a CPA and, later, an adviser at Portland Community College’s Small Business Development Center, I was working a lot with solopreneurs. These were artists, counselors, bookkeepers, speakers, graphic designers, consultants—you name it—who needed to be the business and do the work they loved…not hire other people who do it for them. There are a lot more solo business owners than people think, but I discovered a huge problem: there was no business advice out there tailored specifically for them. Finally, I decided I needed to provide that advice myself. I wrote my book, Better, Smarter, Richer, and started my business so I could help this population succeed.
As I dove deeper and deeper into the world of solopreneurship, I discovered something else: it is the perfect business model for encores. Why? Well, for starters, there’s a relatively low cost of entry for most solo businesses—the “investment capital” is usually your intellectual capital (what you already know). Also, the growth of your business depends on how much time you want to spend on it; because you won’t have a huge overhead to support, expansion and contraction are relatively easy. Finally, the internet has made solo businesses scalable: geography no longer matters. You can sell your product or service anywhere, anytime.
There is tremendous power in the path of encore entrepreneurship, particularly when you decide to “go it alone” and work as a solo. I love what Karen says about redefining aging, retirement, and how you see yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That’s what Ageless Futures is all about…and it’s what Better, Smarter, Richer is all about too. It’s about taking charge of your future—into retirement and beyond—and deciding that it will be fulfilling, joyful, and financially stable. It’s about owning your power and reshaping “your life, your work, and the world,” in Karen’s lovely phrasing.
Above all, it’s about realizing that you—yes, you!–have something to offer.
Jackie B. Peterson is a coach, consultant, and speaker based in Portland, Ore. She is an adviser at the Portland Community College Small Business Development Center and is the author of Better, Smarter, Richer: 7 Business Principles for Encore, Creative, and Solo Entrepreneurs. She specializes in helping people make a living by doing what they love. You can visit her online at www.BetterSmarterRicher.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.