How to retire as a midlife entrepreneur, like this former C-suite exec

When this former C-suite executive was tired of the corporate climb but not ready to retire, he wrote a midlife business plan.

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“I said, ‘What am I going to do with myself from 60 to 90?” Martin Pazzani, 63, asked himself in his mid-50’s.

Pazzani, a former chief marketing officer from Farmington, Conn., worked for the likes of alcoholic beverage company Diageo and Bally Total Fitness, and says he was making a high six-figure salary before he left corporate America 10 years ago to start his own businesses.

“I was always an employee, even though I had a big income. You don’t get to be Jeff Bezos unless you’re the owner,” Pazzani told FOX Business of realizing he wanted to own his own business well into his retirement. “I never wanted to stop working.”

Martin Pazzani left his corporate job a decade ago to pursue his own business. Now, at 63, he has no plans of retiring anytime soon. (Courtesy of Martin Pazzani).

The savvy businessman combined his two areas of expertise – booze and fitness – to pursue a craft tequila business and an online personal training company aimed at the 50-and-up crowd.

“I’m comfortable. If I was forced to retire, I could, and live to 90, but it wouldn’t be the life I wanted,” Pazzani said.

Pazzani is one of many Americans nearing retirement age and starting a business. Indeed, the number of entrepreneurs over age 50 surged by 50 percent since 2007, according to a report by payroll and benefits provider Paychex earlier this year. 

And with people living longer, more are finding fulfillment in becoming self-employed to pursue passion projects. According to the Social Security Administration, a 65-year-old man in the U.S. can now expect to live until age 84, on average, while a 65-year-old woman is expected to live to age 87.

“I found that people in this stage in their lives come to this point where they think, ‘What is my legacy? How do I leave my mark? You can do something at 60 for the next 15 years,” said Kerry Hannon, who writes about how to start a successful business midlife in her book “Never Too Old to Get Rich: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life,."

Here’s how to start your own midlife business:

 Do market research and write up your business plan

Hannon says it’s important to know what your purpose is and if there’s really a market for your business idea.

The U.S. Small Business Administration website outlines exactly how to write up a business plan, from researching if there’s demand for your product, service or idea to measuring the market saturation and how much potential customers would be willing to pay for it. 

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Learn a new skill while you’re still working

If your field requires training, get certified or take a course – ideally, before you quit your full-time job. Take advantage of tax-free tuition assistance programs. Some companies offer up to $5,250 toward an employee’s education, and the contribution doesn’t have to be for a full-degree program.

Get a mentor

Seven out of 10 adults polled in a survey from AARP this year said they like working with people from generations other than their own. Older employees, for example, said they valued their younger colleagues’ creative new perspectives and tech skills.

Hannon agrees: "Moonlighting or volunteering with someone is a great way to get insight," she said.

Do your best to get out of debt and start a budget

"Debt is the biggest dream-killer,” Hannon said, adding that midlife entrepreneurs should start trimming the financial fat. “Ask yourself, ‘Can you refinance your home? Do you want to move where the cost of living is less? Can you downsize?”

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