Prior to the 1980's people began retiring earlier and earlier. It wasn't until the economic downturn in 2000 that the trend began to reverse. People were working longer, not because they wanted to, but because they had too. Now that Americans are not eligible for full retirement benefits until the age of 67, the entrepreneurial activity of those aged 55-64 is at the highest it's been in 10 years.
According to a study published by Irish Life Insurance, 1 in 3 new businesses are started by an entrepreneur age 50 or older. Of these business owners many were victims of corporate downsizing, finding themselves left without job options or a steady paycheck far before their expected retirement. Others were simply not mentally or financially ready to stop working, but looking for new business ventures that they could be passionate about.
In 2009 there were almost 22 million self-employed people between the ages of 55-64 and an estimated 939,000 that were 65 and older. K.E Cahill, a research economist with Boston College Sloan Center on Aging and Work stated, "Those who are self-employed stay in the workforce longer and later in life, more people switch into self-employment than into salaried jobs." Cahill goes on to explain that older Americans tend to have more flexibility with their finances to fund new business opportunities and have the years of experience to help make it a success.
As people are continuing to challenge the traditional sense of retirement more opportunities for the older business generation are beginning to arise. One of these which is franchising.
Did you know that the founders of the ever-famous franchises McDonalds, Coca Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken were established by entrepreneurs over 50? Now, this is not to say you have to invent a whole new food chain in order to be successful. Instead though, you can stay within the franchise system by joining an already prevalent franchise. With proven systems, strategies and corporate teams it will be quicker and easier to turn a profit than by starting out on your own.
Franchises come in all shapes and sizes. From food to gyms, cleaning to automobile there are plenty of opportunities to fit your personal passions, experience and budget. Many, like the fast food chains, are very hands-on and can take longer to turn a profit. Their profit margins have the ability to become quite large but may take more time to do so. Others like MaidPro and similar cleaning franchises tend to be less physical work with quicker ROI. Their business model is scaled to fit your needs and where you want to take your business. These sorts of industries can be better for those looking for annuity and a supplemental income in the later days. All in all, depending on your immediate financial needs and your business goals there is virtually an option for everyone...young AND old.
So the answer is "no". You are not too old to start a business. After years spent working for "The Man" you've learned your strengths and weaknesses, how to evaluate the risk and reward as well as how to make informed business decisions. It is never too late to begin your dreams...and your retirement.