The difficulty people 55 and older have had in finding their footing in our downsized economy is well chronicled. According to the Small Business Administration, more than five million Americans age 55 or older run their own businesses or are otherwise self-employed. The number of self-employed people ages 55 to 64 rose to 52 percent from 2000 to 2007.
Two stories from The New York Times demonstrate that midlife career changes are not always the train wreck following a career course correction.
So, I'm happy to share the success stories of Cindy Dolphin, Deborah Russell, Bob Mellow, who've made midlife career changes, and a company called Communispace, which has been hiring Baby Boomers since the company's inception.
There are two types of midlife career changers: those who have an idea (entrepreneurial-minded) and those who can't find a job and become "consultants," which has become code for "can't find a job."
Having been on both sides, as an employee and employer, it's important for you to take an honest appraisal of your motivations before starting your own business. I can tell you from experience, it's a lot easier when you're younger. I was too ignorant to be afraid and so approached new business with a fearlessness that my older counterparts could only shake their head and wonder.
I'm made a midlife career adjustment recently: my husband and I are venturing to work together again after 10 years. Over that time we've tried working for other companies, but once you've run your own business, it's very difficult to fit the 8-5 cube culture, especially since my work is in the Web Marketing arena.
At the end of the day, it's all about doing the work that engages you, regardless of age.