Jane Pauley: AARP's "Your Life Calling" Ambassador
Devin Dopp, Ed.D.: Chief Operating Officer, SCORE: Counselors to America's Small Business
Online visitors to AARP.org/jane
This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Jane Pauley: Welcome everyone! From the responses we got to our first live chat, it looks like we’ve struck a chord. I’m delighted you enjoyed our March 9 discussion and the debut of AARP's "Your Life Calling With Jane Pauley," which had its premiere that morning on NBC's Today show.
I’m delighted to introduce my guest for this chat, Dr. Devin Jopp, chief operating officer for SCORE, which is a national non-profit organization that provides free counseling and low-cost training to aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners. Dr. Jopp is joining me to take your questions and comments about how to go about starting your own business, particularly in mid-life.
This morning's Today show segment featured Thomas Betts, who at age 50 went from being a salesman to becoming an alpaca rancher. Maybe you’re thinking about making a similar leap yourself. If so, Dr. Jopp will tell you you’re not alone.
Comment from Linnea: How can you find the "thing" you want to do with your life when you are close to retirement. I don't want to retire from life. I want to stay busy and wouldn't mind my own business but I don't know where or how to start.
Pauley: Linnea's question is a good one to start with. From what I've read, experts often advise testing your assumptions before you start your business. They talk about the importance of identifying the category of business that might interest you, and checking it out by getting a job doing that type of work so you can see what it's like. Having said that, I'll now turn to my partner today, Dr. Devin Jopp, who is one of those experts.
Dr. Devin Jopp: Thank you Jane. When someone is thinking about starting a new business, they need to identify their personal goals and what they're passionate about. At SCORE we'll talk to a person about what they want to pursue and then explore those ideas. We explain that it's important that they gain some experience by working in the field they're choosing. They need to identify whether or not there's a market for their business idea, and they need to decide it it's something they can see themselves doing five years from now.
Comment from Arlene L.: Has the marketplace been receptive to new start-up businesses by people over age 50?
Pauley: I think the statistics would say an emphatic yes to that. People over age 55 represent the fastest growing segment of new businesses and, if I'm not mistaken, Dr. Jopp will correct me, most of these new businesses are businesses of one.
Jopp: Yes, Jane, exactly. In fact 90 percent of new businesses in the U.S. consist of people who employ only themselves. Our counselors at SCORE provide free business counseling and low-cost training to aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners. The skills range from basic business planning all the way to bringing a business online, especially concerning topics such as imports and exports.
Comment from Jini: Hi Jane and company. Must tell you that having started a floral art and landscaping business back in August 2009, things are going well. There is nothing like pursuing your dream when passion is your motivator!