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4 Steps to Starting a Great Boomer Business

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Startup How tos | 0 comments

If you’re 50 or older, the thought of launching a new venture may seem overwhelming, especially in the current economy. While time are challenging, there are tools to help you succeed. The good news is that you already possess most of them, says Jeff Williams, CEO of Bizstarters.com and a nationally-recognized expert in starting and growing a business after 50. “Many baby boomers are electively choosing to become entrepreneurs or are becoming reluctant entrepreneur because of downsizing or other circumstances,” explains Williams, whose Bizstarters.com was selected by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine as “The Best Entrepreneurial Guide for People over 50”. “By cultivating contacts, skills and resources they have built over the years, they can turn a good business idea into a great business,” says Williams. He calls his planning approach the “Ultimate Boomer Business Start-Up” with four essential steps for boomers to boost an existing business or build a new one. Step 1 – Start with what you know. “The vast majority of small businesses today primarily sell a combination of two things – knowledge and experience,” says Williams. “If you want to launch a new business, start with something that is a demonstrated ability. It is so demanding to succeed in business. If you are weak in the skill level, you almost have no chance of survival.” Step 2 – Think of ways to sell what you know. Williams instructs boomer business owners to think about the knowledge they have and create a list of ways to repackage and repurpose that knowledge to generate revenue. “Instead of getting discouraged,” he says, “take that knowledge and spin if off in dozen different ways, such as a Web site, book, workbook, newspaper column of blog, or as a consultant or expert speaker. Imagine a wagon wheel where the hub is your original knowledge and the spokes are your revenue streams.” Step 3 – Identify the resources you need to bring your ideas to life. While writing a column for a local business weekly many take only time, creating a workbook or Web site requires investment and staff. Think creatively about finding resources. For example, instead of hiring additional full-time employees, Jeff advises building a more cost-effective virtual support team. “There are people in your community who have left the corporate world, but still have the same skills. Some are full-time freelancers; some only want to work 15 hours a week. Others are virtual assistants who used to work in top administrative positions, but now run businesses where they work from a distance. My virtual assistant is in Texas while I am in Illinois. I have never met her face to face.” Step 4 – Spread the word. “There is not a better way to build a business than word-of-mouth advertising, and the way to get word of mouth is publicity,” Williams adds. “Be committed to getting at least one publicity mention per month, every month of the year.” Williams believes that the easiest way to generate word-of-mouth promotion is through client referrals. He explains, “Some of us are so bound up in what we are delivering that we forget to do one simple thing: ask for a referral from each satisfied client. There are two things that really get you maximum profitability in a small business – the two R’s:...

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How to Turn a Specialty Into a Great 50+ Business

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Startup How tos | 0 comments

It seems that every time there is a reduction in the number of 50+ managers at a large corporate employer, a rash of new “consultancies” spring up. This makes sense, because many individuals can start successful consulting companies with just a Rolodex or Blackberry address file and a set of business cards. The time and cost to start are low. More and more often today, we also see situations where the individual loses her job, but her old corporate responsibility, and the projects she was working on, don’t go away. These projects are often being completed by the same individual who was given the pink slip…acting now as an independent contractor. Consultants make money from selling what they know. But unlike the somewhat passive form of a book or guide, they add advice and recommended future action to their knowledge to increase their value in the marketplace so as to justify fees of $75 per hour and up. In many cases, what consulting clients are really paying for is the consultant’s connections in a specific industry; his past acknowledgement as an “industry expert”; and his effectiveness at staying up-to-date with the latest inside information and techniques in the industry. TEN KEYS TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL CONSULTING BUSINESS 1. If you haven’t left your employer yet, talk to your boss about the chances of returning part-time as a paid consultant. Find out what your company’s policy is regarding the use of former employees as consultants, the general fee level they pay and what your boss sees as the probability of you landing work in your specialty in the next 3-6 months. 2. Renew old acquaintances and refresh recent contacts at as many key players in your chosen industry as possible, for example: divisional managers at the larger companies; executive directors of trade associations; marketing companies for industry trade shows; peers at former (or soon to be former) competitors. 3. Write out a 25 word or less mission statement of what you intend to help your customers achieve with your consulting help. 4. Decide upon a business name and get a professionally designed logo to bring the name to life. Also have your business card, letterhead and envelope designed at the same time. You can often save money by ordering your identity material printing online, at sites such as www.vistaprint.com. 5. Examine any special insurance, bonding, etc. you need in your chosen field of consulting, such as errors and omissions insurance. Find vendors for the type of policy you need and get a cost quote (you may be a bit shocked by what you find!). 6. Go through your files and look for letters of commendation, awards, etc. you earned in your industry. Contact friendly outsiders who’ve expressed a willingness to offer a testimonial of your ability. Request said testimonials by e-mail. 7. Create a website that is simple in construction and professional in appearance. You have three basic ways to do this: (a) Use software to design your own site (such as Adobe Go Live); (b) Set up an account at one of the large web hosting sites (such as Web.com) and use one of their pre-designed (template) websites, which you then customize to your needs, and (c) find a local web developer and work with them to build a...

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How to Turn Your Knowledge Into a Great 50+ Business

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Startup How tos | 0 comments

Often when I meet with groups of my 50+ peers to talk about the next steps in their lives, they mention that they’d love to try running their own business…but they aren’t confident that they have a good grasp of a business idea that can make money. I’m pleased to tell them that virtually everyone walking around has the potential for at least one good business idea locked away in the knowledge they’ve stored in their brains. It may not surprise you to find out that one of the five most popular categories purchased on the Web is “information products”. These range from 5-page printed reports, to CD collections of information, to transcripts of live and telephone workshops, to digital books and guides, popularly known as “ebooks”. Americans love to improve their current circumstances. The multi-billion dollar “self improvement” industry is built around the yearning to take ourselves to a better place in our lives via the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. THE PROCESS OF TURNING KNOWLEDGE INTO DOLLARS Here are the key steps in turning your knowledge into a profit stream of revenue. 1. Define in writing a single, identifiable group of knowledge, such as to landscaping your yard. 2. Create a step-by-step outline of the topics you wish to present. Each major topic will become a chapter or section in your finished product. 3. Consider and record every group of people you can think of who may wish to obtain this knowledge, for example: new homeowners who need landscaping but who are on tight budgets; retired homeowners with time now to re-landscape their yards; neighborhood groups who want to beautify public parks, etc. 4. Go to your local bookstore and visit online book-selling sites, such as Amazon.com, and locate every book you can find on your knowledge topic. Make a chart of the books’ titles, their length, their physical size and any other features they offer, such as pullout charts. Record the retail-selling price (or discounted online price) of each competitive book title you find. 5. Make a decision on which format you will use to bring your knowledge to market, such as: short guidebook (under 50 pages); extensive “picture book”; information CD; workbook and CD combination, etc. 6. Once you decide on your production format, return to your competitors chart and see which of their products are the most similar to your chosen publishing style. Next, review the selling prices of each item to arrive at what you feel will be an attractive selling price for your knowledge product. Remember, in this new Web-powered generation, it is very possible to offer both a printed product and pay-to-view access to additional related information on your website. This way, you can get two or more revenue sources from one set of knowledge! 7. Work on a title. It is critical to the success of your knowledge product that it has a “hook” in its title. Commonly used title “hooks” include: “Ten Tips…”, “How To…”, “The Proven Way To…”, and “Low Cost…”. 8. Now for the hard part: Sitting down on a regular schedule and writing the content for your product. I’ve written eleven books and workbooks and I spent on average 50 hours on each to write them. And then, of course, there is additional time to...

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How to Turn a Product Idea Into a Great 50+ Business

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Startup How tos | 0 comments

The vast majority of the companies in the Fortune 500 started out as small business enterprises, many created to bring one specific new product idea or design to life. In fact, one of the areas where American business is most respected around the world is our dynamic and fearless pool of product inventors and perfectionists. We have people in this country who hold a dozen or more individual product patents. Some hold hundreds of patents. This is the land of Thomas Edison, who by his own admission failed a hundred times more often than he succeeded. But when he succeeded – oh boy! He hit the bull’s eye with such ideas as the phonograph and the electric light bulb. Not a day goes by in the U.S. that a new consumer product is not introduced – often hundreds are announced in one day…more than 50,000 new products are introduced each year. And although many new products never realize their projected sales volume, there is nothing to prevent your great business idea from making you a fortune. TEN KEYS TO TURNING A PRODUCT IDEA INTO A FORTUNE 1. Determine the demand for your type of product. Market demand to a large extent determines whether a new product lives or dies. So, your first step after the next greatest idea pops into your head is to carefully consider and write down every group of potential customers you believe will find a benefit in buying your product idea. 2. Understand how your type of product is distributed to customers. Once you have identified one, two or three large groups of potential customers, you must ask and answer one key question: How does each of these groups of customers now buy products similar to mine? For example, do they most likely go to a large discount chain store to find the product category? Or a catalog? Or an online purchase? Or, do they use more than one way to buy? This is known as identifying the “distribution channel”, i.e. how the product category gets from the factory into the customer’s hands. Why do you need to know the distribution channel? Because then you can figure out which specific product distributors are interested in pushing your new product into the market. For example, trying to convince a paint store chain to carry an automotive accessory is probably foolhardy. 3. Determine how many might be purchased. Find out what potential unit volume a product like yours might sell the first year (you may only have a year or two to the only one with your product). This will help you research the manufacturing, packaging and distribution costs per unit, which are all highly influenced by unit production volume. 4. Find out who makes the product. Identify at least one existing company that makes a product category similar to yours. Why? Because it is usually too costly for a new entrepreneurial company to be able afford to buy and furnish its own factory. The alternative is to use what is known as “contract manufacturing”. For example, the Dove ice cream bar was first mass-produced in a Vienna Sausage plant! 5. Be honest in your answers. You’ll notice that I haven’t talked about patents yet. Why is this? Patent research and filing is expensive, often to the...

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How to Turn Your Hobby Into a Great 50+ Business

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Startup How tos | 0 comments

The number one ground rule that I advise my 50+ clients to set is: pick an activity for your business that you love doing. The way some 50+ folks assure that they will doing a business that they love is to convert a hobby into a profit-producing enterprise. This can be an intelligent way to get started, but first you should answer some key questions. KEY QUESTIONS TO ANSWER It is very advisable for anyone thinking of turning a hobby into a paying business that they carefully research and consider the key skills, activities and techniques necessary to earn an attractive income from sharing their beloved past time with others. Some key questions to ask and answer include: – Will you still enjoy your hobby activity if you find yourself having to work at it eight hours per day, five or more days per week? Or do you derive joy from your hobby because you use it as an escape from your work life? – Do you have a clear idea of approximately how many other people enjoy your hobby? A round number will do, such as “more than 100,000 people”. If you don’t already have a sense of the size of your hobby-users group, visit your library’s reference room and ask to see the Encyclopedia of Associations. Look under the alphabetical category that contains your hobby, such as “F for flying”. See if there is a trade association that serves individuals who participate in your hobby. If there is, use the phone number in the Encyclopedia to contact the association. Ask for some general information on the number and characteristics of your fellow hobbyists, such as the approximate number of participants. – Do you know everything you need to know about how to replicate the hobby for others, such as where to buy supplies at wholesale cost, how much money it takes to start the business full-time, whether licenses or permits are required to run such a business, etc.? – You know what you pay to enjoy your hobby. Are your costs typical of other users? If so, how much do you think you can charge per hour, per trip, per unit of product, etc.? – At your proposed price per use, how much profit (dollars or %) do you think you can make? – How many users will you have to sell in a year to cover your expected business expenses…and pay yourself your desired salary? – Can you find at least one other person in the U.S. (or overseas) who has successfully turned your hobby into a profitable business? If yes, try contacting them to see if they will chat. Some questions you can ask them include: * How long did it take you to make a regular profit? * What were your most effective sources of customers? * What was the most unexpected challenge you faced? THERE ARE PEOPLE COVERTING HOBBIES INTO BUSINESSES ALL AROUND YOU I’ve worked with dozens of 50+ people who have found their inspiration for starting a business in their hobbies. For example: Tom, who started a fishing expedition company after retirement near his favorite vacation spot. Or, Sue, who turned her experience redecorating her condo on a budget into a profitable home rehab business. The key to success is to...

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True Entrepreneurs or Just Desperate Job Seekers?

Posted by on Dec 14, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Not only are these employed Americans starting to buy the more traditional trappings of modern society such as fancy electronics and new cars, but they are also on their way back to buying what I used to describe as “an orgy of personal services”. This fall three of my immediate neighbors who for three previous years raked           their leaves themselves called in landscaping services – so I see this uptick in buying confidence right on my block – close to home! Now, here’s the confounding reality regarding work right now. .. Although major downsizings have largely stopped, few employers of any size are aggressively hiring right now – remember more than 9 million Americans have either been on furlough or reduced hours and they usually get called back first. So, robust job growth is still a long ways off, but… Increased consumer buying is leading to more purchases from small businesses        in their local communities, and guess who owns these businesses? People like    you that’s who! If you’re finally ready to open your eyes to the entrepreneurial side of working, you don’t need to look any further than close to your home to find attractive opportunities. While satisfying my daily online news fix, I came across a thoughtful article  written by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor for President Bill Clinton,    and a commentator whose point of view I always take note of. Mr Reich talks in his column how a recent survey by the Kaufmann Foundation (entrepreneurial development and support) indicates that new business launches in 2009 were the highest in the past 14 years, higher even than during the peak of the dot.com boom. To what does Mr. Reich attribute this explosion in start-ups? He describes how more and more downsized Americans, particularly those over 50, are finding a dead end in replacing their corporate jobs and so are launching small, one-person business ventures in an attempt to get some family income going once again. He then goes on to question whether many of these newly minted small business owners are truly entrepreneurial or whether they are just self-employed people who are struggling to get some personal cash flow going once again. I say that it doesn’t make much difference what you call these new self-directed individuals. All are reflecting a new reality in America that is characterized by each of us acting much more like what has been described as “You, Inc.” where we sell our experiences and skills in the open marketing to a succession of customers instead to a single corporate employer. This entrepreneurial phenomenon will only grow as we move forward, for many reasons. Here are a few of them: 1. Over 3 million Americans turn age 60 each year. Many will either be   downizized or pushed into retirement by the time they hit 60…but most are nowhere near ready to “hang up their spurs”. 2. Corporations are permanently building into their personnel plans the use of temporary and contract workers, at all levels not just administrative. When you work on this basis you are legally an “independent contractor” which is a form of being entrepreneurial. 3. The past ten years have been a real grind for corporate managers, who’ve    ...

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