If you're hustling to support a family and pay a mortgage, be under no illusions: starting a business is risky and takes lots of energy. But opening a small business might be the perfect thing if you are at midlife and have your biggest expenses mortgage, tuition, etc. behind you. "Our data suggest that workers aren't necessarily looking for high wages or benefits as they move through the end of their working years," reports the AARP Public Policy Institute. "Self-employment may fit the bill for many." Workers value the control it gives them over their day; assuming it's a job you like, it's also less stressful. The idea is to scale back from your primary career and turn a hobby into a small business, like, say, taking pictures, opening an art gallery or restoring old cars. A new AARP study shows that 27% of workers age 50 and over switch careers and often accept a pay cut or give up pension and health-care benefits to do so. But a staggering 91% of these people say it was a good trade because they now enjoy their work, and half report less stress. You don't have to raid your 401(k) or extract your home equity to fund a start-up. You may qualify for attractive terms on a loan through the Small Business Association, especially if you are a veteran. The SBA can help you find a micro-loan or possibly even a grant. For free advice on how to write a business plan and get started, you can turn to the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), a volunteer organization of retired business people.
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