January 8, 2018
BIZ BOOKS

Eight principles for starting a business after age 40

"Late-Blooming Entrepreneurs: 8 Principles for Starting a Business After Age 40" by Lynne Beverly Strang (White Chimney Press, $14.99).

It's never too late to start your own business. Strang's dozens of interviews with Boomer entrepreneurs identified eight common threads:

1. "Go out on the right limb." Rory Kelly (Prestige Limousine) spent nearly two years learning the nuts and bolts of the limousine industry before leaving his day job. He found a niche (providing backup services to other limo companies) and exploited it. The companies see him as a solution to their short-term problems, and not as a competitor.

2. "SWOT yourself." Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. No one knows everything they need to know to start and grow a business. Franny Martin (Cookies on Call) did what she knew best — marketing — and hired others whose strengths she relies upon to run operations.

3. "Make it a family affair." This isn't about getting seed money for launch. It's about getting the family to understand that starting a business will create a "new normal" in family dynamics. Without family buy-in, an entrepreneur will only add more stress to his/her life.

4. "Know who you need to know." Donna Herrie (Drawing Conclusions) belongs to five networking groups and does her best to find out who would be attending meetings. With a little online research, she develops a must-meet list for the meetings. Bob Littell (Littell Consulting Services) uses networking to "pay it forward" by connecting the dots of others; he collects IOUs.

5. "Be neighborly." This comes in two flavors: 1. Customers — Practice the Golden Rule. 2. Community — Support local initiatives by volunteering.

6. "Stay on the tiger." Barbara Cosgrove (Barbara Cosgrove Lamps) knows that it's tough to stay pumped every day — especially when problems arise. Grit, in the form of sustained effort, gets you out of the valleys every business encounters.

7. "Watch the money." Do you track expenses? Are you adhering to your budget? What's your credit score?

8. "Keep it simple." Jerry and Janey Murrell (Five Guys Burgers and Fries) offer a limited menu and avoid fancy décor. This enables them (and their numerous franchisees) to focus on quality and service.

Key takeaway: There's no perfect way to run a business. Learn from mistakes; forge ahead.

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