something a bit more fun than their former work."
Nationally, about 30 percent of self-employed workers in this country are 55 or older. Local statistics aren't broken down by age group, but according to the Census Bureau, 10.3 percent of Palm Beach County households were self-employed.
Economists say entrepreneurism typically rises during recessions, due in part to lower start-up costs and an abundance of available workers. What's new this time around is the number of people starting businesses at the age when their parents were eyeing retirement homes.
Roy Assad, a West Palm Beach executive coach (and new board chairman of the city's Downtown Development Authority), believes it's never too late to follow a dream.
"For anybody in their 50s, if they're ever going to launch something, this is the time. You have the experience, credibility, credit history, risk tolerance and patience to support an entrepreneurial venture," Assad said.
Assad said a large number of the more than a thousand clients he's coached have been older executives looking for a more fulfilling work life before it's too late.
"People hear of lay-offs and think, 'That could be me'," said Assad. "Those that have always wanted to start a business are thinking, 'If I don't do it now, when am I going to do it?'"
Some older entrepreneurs were pushed out of corporate life, others jumped.
Lenore Pinello of Jupiter was pushed, and will be forever grateful.
Down-sized from a publishing job at age 50, Lenore vowed never to return to the corporate world, but felt too young to retire. She still wanted a paycheck.
Her husband, Charlie, had a new business. Perhaps she could start one too?
"If I was going to succeed, it was going to be for me," she said.
Always a talented cook who loved hosting dinner parties, Pinello, now 55, leaned on those skills to open In the Kitchen, a Tequesta kitchen shop, cooking school and catering business.
In her shop is a sign that describes her new found pleasure in doing something she adores while being the "boss of me."
"My Happy Place," it reads.
Then, there are perks not found in the corporate world. This summer, she did a cooking demonstration on a European river barge in exchange for a free trip between Amsterdam and Paris.
At the end of the day, her work gives her satisfaction her publishing job never could. "When you put a meal in front of people and they applaud, well, I could do that every night of the week," she said.
By desire or need, working is becoming the new retirement.
In a 2010 survey, 27 percent of people turning 65 told the AARP that they would retire between 66 and 69. Even more -- 29 percent -- said they'd stay in the work place until 70 or older, preferably working for themselves.
As Americans' lifespans have increased nearly 20 years, people in their 50s, 60s and even 70s are healthier and more energetic than previous generations. Yet, since Social Security was enacted in 1935, the retirement age has crept up just one year, a marker Charlie Pinello is ignoring.
Now a "young 68," he found retirement isolating and boring.
"Everyone was ancient. I don't play golf and I can't drink all day, " said the former Long Island fireman, insurance salesman and gas station owner. "And I'm too antsy to sit around."
On a lark, he started selling boats, then bought the brokerage. He re-named it Jupiter Inlet Boats and moved the business to Tequesta. His brother started a companion boat rental business.
Sales are still slow in a moribund economy, but it gives him time to take lunch breaks at the beach with Sophia, his golden retriever.
"I work hard and I goof off hard," he said. "When I stop working, I'll probably drop dead."
Bill Zinke, of the Center for Productivity, who is 81, wants to see the workplace make room for older workers' experience and talent.
After all, he says, "When you're over the hill, you pick up speed going down the other side."
Baby boomer entrepreneurs can find help at:
Center for Productive Longevity at www.ctrpl.org
Small Business Adminstration's 50-Plus Entrepreneur at www.sba.gov/50plusentrepreneur
THE RISE OF THE 'BOOMERPRENEUR'
-- 49 percent of new businesses were started by Baby Boomers in 2011
-- 21 percent by 55-to-64-year olds.
-- 28 percent by 45-to-54-year olds.
Source: The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
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