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Her First Business Flopped. Now She’s Back — and Thriving

Deborah Lofton is building a successful business on her second try, thanks to what she learned through Work for Yourself@50+

spinner image Photo of business owner Deborah Lofton posing in a yellow dress

Deborah Lofton, 67, likes exploring new opportunities. It’s an attitude that in 2005 led her to take what she calls “a leap of faith.”

“I was a registered nurse at a hospital, and I’d have patients who hadn’t understood what the doctors told them,” she says. That gave her an idea: to write and publish a consumer-focused health magazine with articles about different diseases and how to prevent or treat them.

Deborah left her job and got to work on the magazine, pitching it to hospitals and pharmacies. But while there was plenty of interest in stocking it, no one wanted to pay for it.

“I didn't know how to sell myself. I gave free advertising to nonprofits like the March of Dimes. I gave it to churches, libraries. But I couldn’t make any money,” she says. “There was so much I didn’t know about how to run a business.”

Deborah, who has lived in Birmingham, Alabama, her entire life, didn’t want to go back to working at the hospital. She went into home health instead, first as a field nurse and then as a supervisor. But when she was asked to take on a role that involved auditing records, she soon learned that “auditing was not my cup of tea. I wanted to do something more rewarding and enjoyable.” So she retired, six months earlier than she’d planned.

She hadn't planned to start another business, either — but without full-time work, she couldn’t make ends meet. “When my income went down to just Social Security, I knew I had to get another job,” she says.

Eventually, Deborah came to AARP’s website. “It's a wealth of information! The job board was so encouraging, because there were companies that want to hire people who have experience, regardless of age.”

The website led her to AARP Foundation’s Work for Yourself@50+ program, where she learned how to market herself to potential clients, use social media to advertise, and apply for a 501(c)(3) exemption to establish a nonprofit.

Explore Your Self-Employment Options

Curious about starting your own business or making extra cash with a side hustle? Find helpful support and resources you can trust from Work for Yourself@50+.



“The program teaches that you’ve gained skills and experience in your life, and you can use them to do something new,” she says. She liked that the program was tailored to her needs at this stage of life. “This is not targeting the younger folks; it’s for people my age, who have the grey hair, who are trying to start over and do something.”

Using what she learned from Work for Yourself@50+, Deborah is charting her own course once again — this time with a for-profit business and a nonprofit. “I've always had an entrepreneur's spirit,” she says. “Retiring wasn't the end … it was a new beginning for me.”

Her company, Envision Safety and Retention Consultants, helps patients stay on track with their heath goals, medications, and annual screenings. Deborah also conducts safety trainings for companies that hire caregivers who provide in-home care.

Meanwhile, her nonprofit, Abundant Grace Health Ministries, offers incontinence supplies to patients who have low income. Deborah often takes her grandchildren with her to deliver supplies to her clients. “I like them to see that Grandma is making a difference,” she explains. “I want them to follow my example and know they can do it, too.”

Deborah currently works part-time and brings in between $2,000 and $2,500 a month. She was recently granted a 501(c)(3) exemption from the IRS, which will allow her to apply for grants and serve more people. “I want to help people all over the state. Right now, I can only take so many because I don't have the funding,” she says.

As she continues to make the most of her opportunities, her mother is never far from her thoughts.

“I feel her presence,” Deborah says. “She had 12 children. She had a lot inside of her, but she never got to use it. I'm walking steps that she couldn't.”

Learn more about Work for Yourself@50+ and how to explore self-employment.

Read more stories about how our programs have helped people find hope, and about the volunteers who give so much of themselves to help others. 

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Explore Your Self-Employment Options

Curious about starting your own business or making extra cash with a side hustle? Find helpful support and resources you can trust from Work for Yourself@50+.