Anita Bruzzese: You're never too old to start your own business
When Anthony Full decided to launch his own business in 2010 at age 52, some people might have considered him crazy.
After all, who would start a new business at his age and in such a difficult economy with new businesses dropping like flies?
But Full, who has been a barber since 1979, knew he had a great idea. So with optimism, the support of his family and some working capital, he launched a barbershop in Louisville, Colo.
Again, the skeptics might wonder what Full was thinking to start a business with competition in just about every strip shopping mall from New Jersey to California.
"I think as you get older, you have a lot more clarity about what you want," he says. "You have all these ideas about how to make things better. It was time to sort of bet on myself."
Full's foray into owning his own business was not his first, and past business experience had given him the entrepreneurial chops to make things happen. Today, his shop is so successful that he is looking into launching a second one.
"I think people feel really good about supporting entrepreneurs," he says. "They want to help you succeed."
That support has been demonstrated by the number of people who have posted photos of themselves wearing hats with his Rock Barbers logo in locations such as the Arctic circle and the equator, he says. His "male friendly" shop offers a putting green, a guitar inscribed with the signatures of anyone who wants to pick it up and play and a hot-sauce tasting test.
"I'm always trying to think of things that are new and fun," he says. "Getting a haircut should help you escape your regular life. I want to build an experience around it."
Full says another key to his success as an older entrepreneur is listening to the ideas of his younger staff and "making sure they're happy and fulfilled." That leads to customers being treated well.
"I don't want a myopic view," he says. "I always want to know what my employees see that I may be missing."
Full's advice echoes the words of wisdom offered by Bill Zinke, founder and president of the Center for Productive Longevity. At 85, Zinke says his boundless energy is what drives him, much as it does other older entrepreneurs.
"It's not a path for everyone, but it's a chance to use your accumulated wisdom and experience to create something," he says.
Zinke's center has been having workshops to help older workers decide if they want to jump into starting their own businesses. Zinke says one of the most common problems is entrepreneurs not realizing how much cash they need to get a business off the ground and survive before the company make a profit.
That's why the Center for Productive Longevity offers a checklist of what aspiring entrepreneurs need to consider before tackling a new venture. The organization suggests researching the competition, considering how personal and professional connections can help and developing a personal vision.
When Full was putting his business together, he says he turned to a contact about establishing a website. That website has turned out to be a boon to the business because it allows customers to make appointments online at any time and even can send text alerts about upcoming appointments.
The website also features social media contact information, staff profiles and a blog Full writes. Recent posts include three simple rules about the "manly art" of shaking hands properly and information on learning to play adult hockey.
"Every day the staff and I talk about how to get more exposure for the business and new ideas to try," he says. "It's a lot of fun."