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SBA connects business mentors with those over 50

Our nation always has been proud of our entrepreneurial spirit. But great business ideas don’t just come out of college dorm rooms.

In fact, “encore entrepreneurs” – people 44-70 – are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States.

A 2010 survey by the Kauffman Foundation found Americans 55-64 start new business ventures more often than any other age group, and newer research shows one in four people 44-70 are interested in starting their own business or nonprofit in the next five to 10 years.

This is an exciting area, especially considering there are 76 million people older than 50 in the U.S.

That’s why this April, as part of our efforts to ensure small-business owners and entrepreneurs have the skills and training they need to succeed, the U.S. Small Business Administration and AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) are teaming up to host National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Month.

With a special focus on entrepreneurs over the age of 50, we’ll be matching encore entrepreneurs with successful business-owners and community leaders for advice and assistance.

Mentor Month provides a range of resources and online tools to entrepreneurs and small business-owners older than 50. The events connect encore entrepreneurs with mentors, such as those from SBA’s network of Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE chapters who help with strategies to grow an entrepreneur’s business. (SCORE is formerly the Service Corps of Retired Executives.)

We know this kind of training can be critical for the success of a small business. It can help folks bring their experience, knowledge and skills to a new venture, which creates exciting new opportunities and job creation.

According to a recent AARP survey, 15 percent of workers 45-74 are self-employed. Additionally, 13 percent of those who are wage and salary workers say they plan to start a business once they retire.

Small-business ownership is a good option for many baby boomers. Small-business owners who get long-term counseling may see increased sales and hire more workers.

Throughout April, SBA district offices, state AARP offices and SBA resource partners are hosting events around the nation. Events include speed mentoring, where experienced mentors share information during one-on-one counseling sessions, and workshops with entrepreneurs to discuss best practices from successful small-business owners.

In eastern Pennsylvania, two events are scheduled.

The first is a free workshop on pursuing entrepreneurship after 50 from 3-4 p.m. April 29 at Pennsylvania CareerLink Bucks County, 1260 Veterans Highway in Bristol. SCORE Bucks County counselors and mentors will present what you need to know to start a business.

Also, there will be a panel discussion and question-and-answer session with guest entrepreneurs and a networking opportunity to meet the speakers and schedule an appointment with SCORE counselors and mentors.

For information, visit http://tinyurl.com/nyaafq7.

The second event is an encore entrepreneur brown bag lunch-and-learn from noon-1 p.m. May 1 at Liberty Place, 313 W. Liberty St., Lancaster. Scheduled to speak are representatives from the SBA, Lancaster SCORE, Community First Fund, Assets Lancaster and Kutztown University Small Business Development Center.

For information, visit http://encoreentrepreneur.eventbrite.com.

There’s no better time to start a business than today. For Americans, especially those over 50, why not make April the start of the next chapter of your career?

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