GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Business

June 1, 2013

What retirement? Boomers turn to new ventures

An encore career. The second act. The new retirement.

Whatever you call it, baby boomers and seniors have been bitten by the entrepreneurship bug.

Amid economic and social changes, the 55- to 64-year-old age group has had the largest increase in entrepreneurial activity in the past decade, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes entrepreneurship. This trend has continued in spite of the tepid economic recovery.

“It’s a whole movement of starting your own business, no matter how small,” said Elizabeth Isele, co-founder of the nonprofit Senior Entrepreneurship Works in Washington, D.C., and New York.

Consider Pat and Mary Sculley. They’re both 65, and they built successful careers, traveled around the world and raised two children in their more than 43 years together.

They had enough of a nest egg to retire. Instead, they took some of their savings to invest in a startup health and wellness franchise operation. They opened the Exercise Coach in two locations in Dallas in recent weeks. They plan to open a third in the next month. Two more are in the works.

At this point in their lives, they no longer wanted to work at a large corporation where other people were making decisions.

“We want to be in control,” said Pat, who spent 23 years at Electronic Data Systems, including a stint as president of the company’s operations in Japan.

The recession uprooted lives and forced many longtime workers out of their jobs. The unemployment rate among workers 55 and up is lower than the national average, but older employees also stay jobless longer.

“There are different ways to volunteer and help nonprofits and work part-time, but if you need more income than that, you’re up a creek,” Isele said. She works with lawmakers and nonprofit groups to help senior entrepreneurs build businesses.

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