Older Workers Find New Opportunities In Entrepreneurship

By Kim Lyons
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

After more than 20 years in the insurance industry, John Tubridy took a buyout package and went to work for a career transition firm, where he was tasked with helping companies downsize.

“I was like George Clooney in that movie ‘Up in the Air,’ ” Tubridy said. “I was helping people plan their navigation out of the corporate world.”

And he said most of the people he talked to were all too glad to be making the change: Sick of the corporate environment, they looked forward to being in more control of their own destinies.

Tubridy decided that appealed to him, as well.

So ten years ago, at age 50, he became a franchise specialist for FranNet, a consulting firm that matches entrepreneurs with franchise options.

“What I’m doing has always been my dream: to run my own business,” he said. “I realized I loved the planning aspect of it, and now I’m able to help others plan their businesses, too.” He used to have an office on Pittsburgh’s North Side, but found that being mobile worked better for him.

While the word “entrepreneur” usually evokes an image of a fresh-out-of-college idealist with an idea for the next big thing, entrepreneurs who have a little more mileage on their odometers have taken the wheel and are becoming a driving force.

A recent report from the Kauffman Foundation shows an uptick in the past decade in older entrepreneurs. In 2003, people between the ages of 55 and 64 accounted for 18 percent of new entrepreneurs. By 2013, that number rose to 23 percent. The number of new entrepreneurs between 45 and 54 also increased over that time period from 25 percent in 2003 to 30 percent last year.

“I think a lot of older entrepreneurs have done that corporate journey and are ready for a change,” Tubridy said. “But this isn’t something you can just kick the tires and try it out. You have to have a burning desire to do it.”

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