Sunday, December 9, 2012

Boomer Entrepreneurs Benefit From Financial Advice

Hello All,

I am pleased to share with you a brand new article that has just appeared on the investement advise website, Morningstar.

The article is entitled: " Financial Keys for Boomer Entrepreneurs" and is written my Mark Miller, my friend and boomer associate, who is also the author of the popular syndicated column: "Retire Smart".

What I particularly like about the tone of this article is the emphasis of how important taking a serious consideration of an entrepreneurial venture is in helping assure the best retirement security for yourself.

I was flattered to be quoted in the article in the section entitled: "Finance Yourself".

Particularly if you are just starting to take a serious look at becoming your own boss I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the complete article.

You can reach it at:

Financial Keys for Boomer Entrepreneurs

Till we speak again,

Jeff Williams
Chief Boomer Biz Coach

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

If Scranton Can Do It, Why Do You Think That There Is Any Job Security?

You may have heard or read the news this week, that during a budget dispute between the mayor and city council of Scranton, Pennsylvania (the fictional home of "The Office") the mayor has unilaterally lowered the wages of 300+ city employees to the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

To do what he did, he has violated contract terms with a number of unions and he will soon be sued for doing so.

Now, one would like to view this situation as a political "pissing match" with hope that an acceptable compromise will be worked out soon.

My intent in writing about this is to tell my 50+ boomer peers who are still grasping the intent of continued corporate work with both arms - you'd better wise up and realize that THERE IS NO JOB SECURITY in the U.S. anymore.

The closest we used to come to a lock on job tenure was in state and city jobs. But, over the past four years, more than 500,000 municipal workers have lost their there doesnt appear to be very much job security in government jobs anymore either.

Now, I don't want you think that my story today is all "gloom and doom".

Rather I'd like to drawn upon the age old philosophy that "necessity is the mother of invention".

Today when we are faced with the necessity of finding continued work income without a corporate or government job, then we need to re-invent our work lives as what is being called "an independent worker".

An independent worker identifies a skill, talent or experience that can be used to solve an important problem for a large enough group of people to promise attractive and continuous income. You create a compelling selling story, identify a group of prospective customers, and make your sales pitch, often through what you write on your business website with a bit of email marketing thrown in.

Now, I'm the first to tell you that running your own business is full of ups and downs. But, here's the key as I see it.

When you work a job, your continued employment may well ride with the opinion of one superior, sometimes one that doesnt know you real well.

But when you run your own business, your continued income production depends upon keeping a group of customers happy. To end up with no income at all (such as you do when downsized) you'd have to be "fired" by all of your customers at once. And I dont know any successful business owner who is stupid enough to let this happen.

So, the key difference between the "security of a job and the "security of selling yourself" is your level of control. Most corporate employees (and now government employees) have very little control over keeping their jobs. But, as the owner of several companies for the past twenty-four years, I sure as hell do have control over my financial destiny.

It is this sense of control that gives me the zip to start each new work day, to continually create new ideas and follow up on them and to know that I help people each day, while helping my family by producing income.

I'd rather depend upon my wits and wisdom any day to keep money flowing into my bank account, than to hope that I can "brown up" a superior sufficiently to keep my job one more day.

Till we speak again...
Jeff Williams

Saturday, July 7, 2012

50+ Boomers Need To Face Reality in Job Market

I help run a job club in the Chicago area for unemployed folks over 50.

As you can imagine, the size of the group has been continually growing over the past three years.

After previous recessions, we would see the same people for maybe three or four months and then they would dissapear as they found new jobs.

But, in our current job club we've been seeing the same people month after month for a year or more.

I often wish that I had a magic wand I could wave to get each and every one of these people successfully placed once again in a corporate job.

I unfortuantely don't have this ability.

Because of my entrepreneurial personality I have been telling the members of the job club for some time to think seriously about how to sell their talent and experience as independent contractors or as small business owners.

But, only a few seem to be taking to heart what I say...they are still convinced that somehow they will find an attractive replacement corporate job, even at age 58 and even after being out of work for a year or more.

To these folks and to some of my blog readers, I feel compelled in today's entry to tell you this: "It's time to wake and smell the coffee here!".

By this I mean that they need to look at some basic employment numbers.

The U.S. economy is adding fewer than 200,000 new jobs per month and has been at this level or worse for more than three years. It takes at least 175,000 new jobs just to absorb new entrants into the workforce (many of whom are under age 30).

This means that FEW NEW REPLACEMENT JOBS are really being created. And so, a panel of top economists last week predicted that we will continue to face an unemployment rate of 7%-8% for two or more additional years. This means that by the time the unemployment rate starts to get closer to the traditional 6%  that the members of our job club will have been out of work for five years or more!

Learn more about the economic projection...

Despite all the campaign rhetoric, the reality is that any U.S. President has scant power to create massive job growth.

Employers must feel confident before they will hire and right now order volume is declining once again for many companies which is their barometer to hire. Lowering taxes will not create massive job creation - most Fortune 500 companies already pay well under 5% of their profit in income tax. And health care costs will continue to rise regardless of whether the Affordable Care Act is fully implementend or not, so on this point large employers already know the expense landscape.

The truth is: Why would a company take on the financial responsibility of a new full time employee when they can buy all the talent they want through temporary help agencies or by placing more jobs overseas.?

The reality: They will continue NOT HIRING.

But, guess what they will continue to do?

They will continue to buy billions of dollars of goods and services from small suppliers and independent contractors and consultants!

I often remind the members of our job club of the following truism in the U.S. workplace:

"Customers don't care what the age is of the CEOs of their suppliers - they only care that they deliver what they promised".

For many under age 40 hiring managers, an unemployed boomer over 50 can NEVER deliver enough to overcome his relative unattractiveness as an employee!

For millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans over 50, it's time to wake up and realize that "You're retired from the corporate world and just don't know it yet!"

It's time to move on to find an entrepreneurial way to turn your talent into income.

Till we talk again...
Jeff Williams

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Affordable Care Act Removes Barrier to Many 50+ Entrepreneurs To Be

I don't want to get into the political rhetoric associated with the Affordable Care Act that was today substantially upheld by the Supreme Court. There are caring, intelligent people on both sides of this debate.

Instead let me provide my personal perspective of what can happen to a prospective boomer entrepreneur when they try to replace their corporate health care.

The fact is that by the time you reach 50, and more 60, you've probably developed some sort of physical aliment - high blood pressure, a bad back or something else. Not anything that completely disables you but certainly enough up until the Affordable Care Act was put into law to permit many health care providers to turn down your application for personal health care coverage - because of what they call a "pre-existing condition".

In my more than twenty-four years as a business start-up coach I have been told by literally hundreds of people that the only reason that they haven't acted upon their strong entrepreneurial amibiton is their fear of trying to run a business and support their family...with no medical insurance, because they have been turned down for individual coverage.

Employment experts in fact state that the number one reason they find among survey respondents for why they stay in jobs they dislike, is...
you guessed it - they dont know how to replace their corporate health care coverage.

This problem is in fact, the one business planning challenge for which we do not have a ready answer.

Knowing that many talented boomers have been blocked from starting a business because of lack of health insurance has really made me mad!

But, with the reform measures in the Affordable Care Act, health insurance providers must accept all applicants for coverage.. and they will be monitored for how they set premiums based on age and gender.

We should be able to pursue any kind of legal work that inspires us and for which we are well only by our determination, not the whims of insurance companies!

Till we talk again...
Jeff Williams

Monday, June 25, 2012

Running Your Own Business Is Your Employment Plan B

A harsh reality is becoming very apparent in the job market - if you're over age 50 and lose your job, you are likely not going to be able to return to a replacement full-time job.

According to a recent Forbes article, the few new jobs being offered by corporate employers to folks over 50 are often part-time or temporary, neither great ways to rebuild your battered retirement savings.

Last week, a commentator on National Public Radio seemed to sum it up when he said: "Many out-of-work boomers over 50 are retired from the corporate world and just don't know it yet!"

Well, let me bring you some very good news to offset the dire outlook in the job market...

There is a work "Plan B" at your fingertips!

Many corporate hiring managers today are under age 40 and to them your age is often a deterrent to hiring you.

But, guess what? When you run your own business, your customers or clients don't care how old you are - they just want to be sure you'll deliver what you promise.

Even if you're able to find some kind of full-time corporate job, you must understand that for the past decade real job wages have not grown, not even by a fraction of one percent.

So in the corporate world today you work your butt off and you still don't get ahead financially.

In contrast, when you're self-employed you largely control how fast and how far you can grow your personal income.

For example, I sit down each January and figure out what level of personal income I would like to receive for the year. Then, I make a mini-marketing plan to achieve my goal.

Over the twenty-three years I've been self-employed I've made my goal many more times than I've missed it.

In today's drastically downsized corporate world a typical senior manager (which those of you over 50 should be by this point) is probably doing 2, 3 or more jobs at the same time.

When I drive by the commuter train terminal in the downtown of my Chicago suburb at 8:00 at night, I see dozens of older individuals in business dress get off the train. They've probably been away from home for fourteen hours or more.

Being able to work on a flexible schedule is one of the major rewards you gain by running your own business. Over the past decade members of my family have suffered some serious medical problems that required that I take off a lot of time to help.

In the corporate world, I'd have run out of sick leave within a couple of months and when I continued to be absent, they would have likely fired me.

So, your "Plan B" is to seriously explore ways to turn your skill and experience into an entrepreneurial income opportunity.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

True Entrepreneurs or Just Desperate Job Seekers?

Employed Americans are starting to buy the more traditional trappings of modern society such as fancy electronics and new cars, but they are also on their way back to buying what I used to describe as "an orgy of personal services".

This fall three of my immediate neighbors who for three previous years raked their leaves themselves called in landscaping services - so I see this uptick in buying confidence right on my block - close to home!

Now, here's the confounding reality regarding work right now. ..

Although major downsizings have largely stopped, few employers of any size are aggressively hiring right now - remember more than 9 million Americans have either been on furlough or reduced hours and they usually get called back first.

So, robust job growth is still a long ways off, but...

Increased consumer buying is leading to more purchases from small businesses in their local communities, and guess who owns these businesses? People like you that's who!

If you're finally ready to open your eyes to the entrepreneurial side of working, you don't need to look any further than close to your home to find attractive opportunities. 

While satisfying my daily online news fix, I came across a thoughtful article written by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor for President Bill Clinton, and a commentator whose point of view I always take note of.

Mr Reich talks in his column how a recent survey by the Kaufmann Foundation (entrepreneurial development and support) indicates that new business launches in 2009 were the highest in the past 14 years, higher even than during the peak of the boom.

Read his column

To what does Mr. Reich attribute this explosion in start-ups?

He describes how more and more downsized Americans, particularly those over 50, are finding a dead end in replacing their corporate jobs and so are launching small, one-person business ventures in an attempt to get some family income going once again.

He then goes on to question whether many of these newly minted small business owners are truly entrepreneurial or whether they are just self-employed people who are struggling to get some personal cash flow going once again.

I say that it doesn't make much difference what you call these new self-directed individuals.

All are reflecting a new reality in America that is characterized by each of us acting much more like what has been described as "You, Inc." where we sell our experiences and skills in the open marketing to a succession of customers instead to a single corporate employer.

This entrepreneurial phenomenon will only grow as we move forward, for many reasons.

Here are a few of them:

1. Over 3 million Americans turn age 60 each year. Many will either be downizized or pushed into retirement by the time they hit 60...but most are nowhere near ready to "hang up their spurs".

2. Corporations are permanently building into their personnel plans the use of temporary and contract workers, at all levels not just administrative. When you work on this basis you are legally an "independent contractor" which is a form of being entrepreneurial.

3. The past ten years have been a real grind for corporate managers, who've faced multiple reductions in force, earned no real gain in wages and often made to feel of little value after 50. Suffering from job burnout, more and more older Boomers want to a new way to work - with more flexibility of schedule, more daily fun and less limit on their income growth. The only way I know for most of us to achieve all three is to run our own businesses

Till we speak again...
Jeff Williams

Attack Upon the Middle Class Should Encourage You To Become Your Own Boss

If you've read even one evening newspaper or watched just one network news broadcast recently, you've likely heard this phrase intoned: "America's middle class is under attack".

Now, I generally don't watch network news (and certainly NOT cable news) but even I know that much hyperbole is used by news readers today.

But, in the case of the above phrase, I must stay that television and newspaper commentators are for once possibly understating the reality here.

Any economic expert will cerify that that two features of our society in the past 50 years most dramactically encouraged the robust growth of a strong middle class:

1. Greatly expanded college enrollments.
2. Union membership.

For any of us with children either currently in college or recently graduated, it is appalling to realize that our "typical" college graduate today is walking away with more than $15,000 of college debt.

Faced with a decade or more of college repayment, fewer and fewer college graduates in their late twenties have the financial capability to raise the downpayment to buy even a starter house.

Why does this matter? Because home ownership has been the foundation of entering the "middle class" in America for all of the post-war period to date.

For young Americans who choose not to attend college, there has been the alternative of well paid factory work, often as part of an union workforce.

As an entrepreneurical coach and member of my local workforce development agency, I have first hand experience of what has been happening in the job market for the past decade or more - no real growth in income for non-union corporate workers.

What I have been observing is a sobering truth - workers not represented by unions have been falling behind economically for years - slowly edging their way out of the bottom end of the middle class.

Now, I'm the first to verify the assertion that some union contracts call for wage and benefit provisions that are no longer sustainable in an America that has lost millions of manufacturing and service jobs to foreign competitors.

And so I favor renegotiation of many union contracts to require greater contribution of union members to their pension and insurance plans, just like the public employees union in Wisconsin has publicly declared their willingness to do.

But, what I do not support is the effective dismantling of the right to collective bargaining.

It is only because of collective bargaining agreements that any worker in the U.S. is seeing any increase in their income.

Let me close by proposing a thought.

Most large corporate CEOs today work under generous and rigorously enforced employment contracts, often negotiated for them by corporate recruiting firms.

If a CEO works under a negotiated employment contract, that is next to impossible to change and got this arrangment via the involvement of an outside negotiator, then one can conceivably describe CEOs as working under "collective bargaining agreements".

But, do you read about any Congressman or woman suggesting that we take this right away from CEOs?

Till we speak again...
Jeff Williams

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