Stafford: Prepare to become own boss

September 3, 2013 

How many older-than-50 job hunters have told me they're not getting interviews or are being told they're overqualified?

Too many to count.

Maybe they are overqualified. Maybe they're underqualified because their skills are outdated. Maybe they're victims of age discrimination, which, of course, is nearly impossible to prove. Maybe they're not plugged into the right professional networks.

Maybe the employer wrongly assumes they would cost more than budgeted ... or their mind-set is poor ... or they wouldn't like working for younger bosses ... or their health is suspect.

Reasons why mature job applicants have trouble also are too many to count.

It's understandable why many say they're done with trying to get hired. They're going to go into business for themselves!

Fine. But prepare carefully. I also hear from many whose entrepreneurial efforts failed.

Some people are naturals at the creativity, the risk comfort, the self-motivation it takes to run one's own enterprise. Other people are more natural employees, better at following through on plans and duties laid out for them. It can be hard to change nature.

Fortunately, multiple education programs are available for would-be entrepreneurs, especially those in the latter decades of their work lives. The U.S. Small Business Administration, AARP, FastTrac (a Kauffman Foundation program), as well as for-profit schools and community colleges, all offer relevant training.

A good entrepreneurship program can help you see if you have what it takes to be self-employed. The lure to be your own boss is only the start. You need expert advice about the marketability of your idea, the competition, the need for and access to financing, the income potential and the time constraints.

It's age-old advice: Know yourself. And look carefully before you leap.

Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. She can be reached at stafford@kcstar.com.

 

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