It used to be that when someone turned 55, they were considered on the downhill slide into retirement. But today, 55 is the new 35. People in their 50s now realise they’ve got a lot left to offer and a wealth of experience, and they’re spending their time not thinking about retirement, but figuring out what they want to do with the second half of their adult life.
Many in this age bracket are empty nesters who have the time and energy to devote to a new calling. Many have also realised after years in the corporate world that they want more flexibility and the opportunity to be rewarded in a more direct manner for their work efforts.
Career and life goals
Whether their goal is to create wealth, to give back and help others, or to stay busy and creative, more and more people over 55 are pursuing entrepreneurship with a substantial number turning to franchise opportunities as an alternative to starting their own business from scratch.
It’s not uncommon for franchisors to seek franchisees over 55 because they know the experience, wisdom and capital resources these franchisees have accumulated can serve them well in their businesses.
Franchise needs change with age
If you’re wondering what franchises might be a good match for you as a mature franchisee, consider the following elements of franchise success:
- Understanding the franchisee role. It’s always important to know what you’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis. In a franchise, this may have very little to do with delivering the product or service to the customer, since your focus may be on other functions of the business. Also, remember that after years of having a boss, you’ll be in this role yourself, and you need to be comfortable with that responsibility.
- Being comfortable doing all levels of tasks. After spending years in the corporate world, you may be used to delegating many tasks. You need to carefully consider whether you’ll be okay serving as everything from the CEO to the cleaner, depending on what your business needs at the moment.
- Putting your personal assets at risk. Most people have accumulated substantial assets by the time they’re in their mid-50s and may be significantly less willing to risk those assets. Carefully consider what resources you’re willing to use in financing your business – especially retirement account assets – before setting out to find a franchise.
- Changing your lifestyle. Many reaching 55 have decided they want a more flexible lifestyle that allows for additional time off, travel opportunities or other priorities. When investigating potential franchise businesses, make sure to consider the franchisee role in relation to your lifestyle concerns.
- Preparing exit plans. Though this is a significant consideration for all prospective franchisees, it can be particularly important for someone older than 55.
Decide how much longer you want to work and what you’re going to do with the business when you reach the point where you don’t want to run it anymore. For example, whether you’ll want to sell or hand it over to your heirs.
Food for thought
You can experience tremendous joy and fulfilment during the process of ‘reinventing’ yourself later in life. You get a wonderful second chance to build a life that has more meaning for you and can be financially rewarding.
All you need to do is take the time to really think through what you want out of business ownership and then investigate all opportunities carefully to make sure you select one that provides what’s important to you.
Franchise companies will want you as a franchisee. You’re going to be very popular when you start contacting them because of your life experience, business acumen and financial stability.
You can help both sides of this transaction by communicating to yourself and the franchise company where you want to go with the business and what you hope to accomplish. With a little care and thought, the best years in life can all be ahead of you.
Four ways to succeed as a post-retired franchisee
Rely on your expertise. At the end of your work career you will have a wealth of experience to draw on. While you may want to strike out into something different for a change of scene, the knowledge you have can lend well to gaining credibility with customers.
Choose a franchise that fits your finances. You’re already taking a calculated risk by investing your retirement funds in buying a franchise, so ensure that it’s not one that’s going to break the bank. Check that you can afford the franchise fees and ongoing expenses in the long-term.
Identify and accept your weaknesses. This is an important exercise even for young prospective franchisees. Know your shortfalls — be it social media, public speaking, or giving sales pitches — then set to work hiring people who can fill your weak spots.
Find time to still enjoy retirement. For some die-hard entrepreneurs, ‘relax’ and ‘retirement’ are words that don’t exist in their vocabulary. For others, it’s time where they want to enjoy the best of both worlds.
It’s no sign of weakness that energy levels wane as one gets older, so define the number of work hours you wish to devote to the business upfront, see whether this will fly with your chosen brand, and hire staff that can work around this schedule and fill in where needed so you get the R&R you deserve.