Business: Roni Deutch Tax Center
Edward Ritter says he doesn't understand the meaning of retirement. Relax in a rocking chair? Forget it. Two years ago, at age 75, Ritter opened one of the charter franchisees for the Roni Deutch Tax Center in Knoxville, Tenn. Today, his business continues to grow with five employees—nearly all are seniors. "If you're positive and forward thinking, the age disappears," Ritter says. "I don't know when the grim reaper is going to come, but he's not going to find me sitting in a rocking chair."
Ritter's advice: "Don't dwell on self pity, it will kill you. Be grateful for what you have, and when things change you have to move on.'"
Business: Weddings by Carolyn
When Carolyn Brown was laid off from her position as human resources director for a health-care company three years ago, she decided to turn her passion for planning weddings into a business.
Brown's advice: "Figure out what you learned in the corporate world that you can transfer into a business. Forget the woe-is-me mentality. Reevaluate your lifestyle and start that business, even if it's in the corner of the bedroom."
Business: Women’s Automotive Connection
After 15 years in the auto industry, Gail Dunn saw countless women being taken advantage of when they brought in cars for repairs. She also saw an untapped market. "You have to find people with the knowledge you never had and understand that a business takes time to build. When I was younger I didn't have the patience that I have now."
Dunn's advice: "If you're really passionate about your business idea, people will recognize that. So, go ahead and jump off that cliff. It's fear that keeps most people from doing it, and that will keep you from succeeding."
Business: CertaPro Painters
(From L to R - Brett Nakagawa, Todd Nakagawa, Ted Nakagawa, Kris Nakagawa)
"I have been loyal all my life, and I still am, but you learn not to look at life through rose-colored glasses," Nakagawa says. In April 2009, he went into business with his son, Todd, as franchisees for CertaPro Painters. "My age has helped me [as an entrepreneur] because I have maturity and I've been around the block a few times." Nakagawa says.
Nakagawa's advice: "You have to have a strong work ethic and stick to it. You're not going to get the job done [lying] in bed or watching TV."
Business: Newco Enterprises
During her decades-long career in the real estate business, Jean Newell's stumble into entrepreneurship started four years ago with a pen and a napkin at a Denny's restaurant in Melbourne, Fla. That's where she sketched the design of a personal utility pouch [PUP] that would help real estate agents, like herself, carry supplies. The idea was to make the bag look tasteful, not like a bulky tool belt. It worked. "I started with nothing, but I just kept plugging away."
Business: Newco Enterprises
Newell's advice: "If you have a dream, an idea, and some common sense, it will start coming together what you need to do."
Business: Incredibly Edible Cookie Co.
When Bob, 61, was let go from his corporate job, he partnered with his wife, 59 — and the Incredibly Edible Cookie Co. was born. "It's a different life. I focus on my wife more," he says.
"You get closer to your family and your roots, and that takes over the corporate job you had before."
Millers’ advice: "Put enough money away, right-size the house to your income, stay close to your family, and be humble."
Think you're too old to run your own business? "Think again," say these six entrepreneurs