Magazine article USA TODAY

An Entrepreneurial Retirement

Magazine article USA TODAY

An Entrepreneurial Retirement

Article excerpt

FOR MILLIONS of Americans who were sold the promise of committed loyalty to their careers and subsequent cozy retirement, the statistics are sobering: 59% of people 65 or older have no retirement savings. Reliable company pension plans virtually are a thing of the past. The average savings for those 55 to 64 is around $120,000 and, according to retirement specialists, only returns about $4,800 per year based on conservative investments--not nearly enough to live on, especially when you consider that people are living, on average, 20 years or more into retirement.

As a result, more and more Americans have to give up their dream of riding off into the sunset and labor several more years just to get by. There has been a 67% increase from a decade ago in the number of individuals 65 or older who still are working.

Who is to blame? It is easy to point fingers at the government, corporate culture, the education system, poor investments, the recession, or even the big banks but, like most of us know already, blaming someone else will not get you any better results--and, as much as it feels good to point fingers and relinquish yourself of responsibility, there is an alternative.

A number of people are turning to entrepreneurship. Statistically speaking, 320,000 new businesses are started every month in the U.S. and, not surprisingly, the fastest-growing sector of entrepreneurial growth is individuals 45 to 54 years of age. Whether that simply reflects the aging population, the outright need to earn more money, or even midlife crises, the fact is, for many, entrepreneurship represents the promise of adventure, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, and, more importantly, the allure of success.

However, eight out of 10 people who start a business will fail within the first 18 months, and nine out of 10 within the first five years. Given these rather dire statistics, is it possible to escape the overwhelming trend of business failure and, if so, how? Just like anything else that is worth doing, it is a good idea to get some training and education. The vast majority of businesses that fail are started by people with no experience in business.

Anyone who ever has had a job for any length of time likely has participated in the mandatory corporate training provided by his or her company. Approximately $130,000,000,000 a year is spent on training employees, which represents about .7% of annual revenues. The problem is, for most of those same employees, if and when they decide to start a business, they are not willing to pay for their own training.

Somehow, and this is a disturbing thought, many people believe that the success of the company they worked for was due mostly to the knowledge, expertise, and hard work put in by themselves and their fellow employees. They rarely factor in the company owner in their thought processes and how that owner might have anything to do with the company's profits.

Therefore, when they start their own businesses, often with nothing more than a good idea, they believe they have enough expertise to do it themselves--and that is a near infallible recipe for failure. Successful entrepreneurship requires, more than any other career, critical skills in a multitude of areas: finance, accounting, sales, marketing, distribution, leadership, human resources, information technology, and even risk management. …

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