Back to School – for Entrepreneurs

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Covid-19 greatly accelerated retirees’ moves to return to work and try entrepreneurship…only to find they need to add to their ‘toolbox” with adult education.

“The pandemic forced more than two million premature retirements, but many of those retirees are now returning to work,” said the Joblist second quarter 2022 jobs report. That report said 27% of retired job seekers are re-entering the workforce for financial reasons, but the majority are primarily “looking for something to do.”

“One of the major trends coming out of the pandemic is entrepreneurship for that over 50 set”

The National Bureau of Economic Research says a quarter of workers between 50 and 59 are self-employed. Those numbers increase to 46 percent of those aged 65 to 69 and to 68 percent of those between 75 and 79.

“One of the major trends coming out of the pandemic is entrepreneurship for that over 50 set,” says Kerry Hannon, author of “In Control at 50+.” “It had started pre-pandemic, but it just lit up. And because people had that time to do that soul searching and that inner MRI and say ‘what do I really want to be doing with this part of my life?’ And so, entrepreneurship has just taken off.”

“One client retired from a company and is forming her own consulting firm with three fellow employees (three women) who are also retiring,” says Sandra E. McPeak, Managing Director – Investments at Wells Fargo Advisors. “They started by offering their service for free to a small business to test/refine their model.   Now they have their first paying customer, who found them by word of mouth.”

Back to School!

Those retirees who are starting new businesses might find it useful to return to school to learn new skills.

“Another major trend that has emerged is virtual learning and lifelong learning, and the number of virtual opportunities to learn during the pandemic, just accelerated,” says Hannon. “Today it’s absolutely critical.”

“It doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money to add a certificate or ramp up one piece of your business ‘Mojo’ that you’re a little weaker in. Not all of us can be a jack of all trades and do everything.”

How to Choose?

There are literally dozens of options, many at low or no-cost, to gain new skills that will be useful in your new business.

Senior Planet Digital Skills Ready@50+™  Senior Planet is proud to work with AARP Foundation on the Digital Skills Ready@50+™ initiative. The resources are focused on digital essentials to help older adults find and secure jobs, change careers, or explore entrepreneurship. Visit here to learn more and register  – registration is required.

Getsetup, an online platform that is all virtual, and it’s for people over 50 taught by people over 50.  “They have a whole entrepreneurship incubator now where they offer a variety of classes writing a business plan even and getting up to speed with Excel sheets or just some real nitty gritty basics that that you may be missing.”

Community colleges. A lot of community colleges have great offerings as well aimed at entrepreneurs that would cover everything from these basics.

Small Business Administration. The SBA has business development centers around the country, where they offer advice and courses.

SCORE. The nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, offers mentoring for small businesses as well as webinars and on-demand courses. “Hooking up with an individual who might be able to coach you a bit and help you see where you can ramp up your education,” says Hannon.

MOOCs. Hannon says Coursera, edX and some of the other online universities that combine courses from many colleges and universities are a great way for older entrepreneur to gain necessary skills.

Do a Skills Audit

“It’s important to know what skills you’re lacking and what skills your new business demands,” Hannon says. “If you’re starting a business as a chocolatier, for example, it’s really good to go back and get some certificates in baking and cooking.  Or if you want to do consulting, there’s a lot of things that you want to hang your hat on.”

“Look at Linked-In for people who are doing the businesses that you’re interested or that you’re launched, and what kind of degrees and certificates they have that you should also have?”

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Rodney A. Brooks is the former deputy managing editor/Money at USA TODAY. His retirement columns appear in U.S. News & World Report and Senior He has written for National Geographic, The Washington Post and USA TODAY. The author of “Fixing the Racial Wealth Gap,” Brooks has testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. His website is

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