Encore Entrepreneurs 2019: The solo business hussle and pushing back against ageism. By Michelle Walch

What are the different reasons people continue working beyond the usual retirement? Some continue working out of necessity, others want to work doing something they’ve always wanted to do. Some of us simply need life experience to figure out what we want. Are businesses adjusting their hiring practices to work with encore entrepreneurs? Walch Communication investigates.

There is a retirement crisis ahead of us. It is a reality for many of us. Many have not been able to contribute to retirement simply because we can’t afford to. Bills come first, then debts, leaving a thin margin. Oregon now has Oregon Saves which is a great way to start a retirement fund, thanks to AARP’s work. Check out Over 55, Unemployed and Faking Normal by Elizabeth White for a coping guide.

An uneven performance in the economy over the past years, finding stable income to actually contribute to retirement has been difficult. Even if you have stable income, and the employer offers retirement, many times wages aren’t enough to put any money away. In some cases the employer doesn’t contribute. Some employers don’t fully vest their employees until after five or more years. That reason, according to some companies, is to encourage loyalty (never mind negative work environments, lousy pay, sickness or family issues that impact a person’s ability to work at one place continuously).

In the last decade workers aged 54 to 64 grew by 18 percent. Workers aged 65 and better represented 39 percent of the workforce. Soon the number of people aged 65 will outnumber those younger than that. There will be many older, poorer Americans. Some studies and articles say many of these older Americans will not be healthy, but I disagree that that will be entirely true (read my earlier blog, The New Age of Aging). That said, we need to figure out how to keep an older population from being poor. Former Senator Heidi Heitkamp says that Congress can provide incentives to encourage working families to save. There were bills getting bipartisan support. Continuing to get these bills passed takes some effort.

How do you make money when you wonder how a business or organization will react to gray hair? Who’s going to hire you? Luckily the encore entrepreneur , age-friendly , and anti-ageism movements are helping change the perception of older workers and business owners.

An article in Next Avenue calls it unintended entrepreneurship (which happens at any age, called the gig economy). Workers are let go and find themselves scrambling for work. It turns out that self-employment is the only option.

The greatest power an older solo business owner (or employee) has is in leveraging the wealth of skills and knowledge gained over the years. Much work can be done online or in a consultancy capacity, so not much overhead is needed. Still, cash flow is needed to to sustain yourself while getting things going.

Money is still needed for bills, and even online businesses need to pay for services such as websites and marketing. And if you have little to no income and little to no savings and no family support, that’s a tight spot. Public assistance such as food stamps are available but limited for many. Rental assistance? That’s another story. Plenty of loans are out there but that’s for capital, and those are usually reserved for large scale operations and banks want a return on their investment. That said, there are often scholarships that are available for valuable business classes, there are grants available for small start ups, and there are still other grants available for women-owned small business.

But while there are grants for small businesses out there, more financial support is needed to ensure success. That means rental assistance, childcare, transportation. Typically these fall under the purview of social services, but those services need to be widened to include more need.

Get a hold of self-employment coach Jackie B. Peterson’s book Better Smarter, Richer or sign up for Best Beginnings.

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