Franchise Buying Guide

Coming of Age

The Benefits of Being Older
Presented by Guidant Financial
Guidant Financial specializes in helping entrepreneurs purchase new franchises using their retirement funds.

Cashing In

Health and longevity are keeping people in the work force longer, but financial reasons are also a driving factor. According to a 2003 survey conducted for the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 70 percent of older baby boomers and 73 percent of younger ones expect to continue to work in post-retirement jobs. Many are staying in the work force to prepare for a time when they can no longer work. "People have not put enough money away in order to live comfortably; so, in many cases, they are forced to go back [to work] and do something," says Stuart Taylor, co-founder of Your New Career Inc., a career counseling firm in Menlo Park, California, that caters largely to older people.

Careerwise, Don Salatich, 58, has experimented with everything. He spent several years designing turbines for jet engines at GM, worked as an executive for a brush manufacturing company, and even operated a hot-air balloon business. After a lifetime of work, Salatich was mentally ready to retire, but the decline in the stock market took away all hopes of being able to do so and still live comfortably. In search of financial security, he gave real estate a shot, but things didn't click until he tried his hand at scooping ice cream.

In 1997, Salatich discovered Cold Stone Creamery when he and his wife stopped for dessert during a road trip. "In my world, no day is complete without ice cream," he says. "I walked in, and they were making freshly baked waffle cones. That aroma just grabbed me."

Six years after that fateful trip, the aroma still hadn't loosened its grip. He gave into temptation and purchased two Cold Stone franchises in 2003. Sure of his decision, he decided to relocate from Cincinnati to Indianapolis to get good locations. He also made a significant financial investment, with one store alone amounting to $290,000 in startup costs. "I have two passions in life: golf and Cold Stone," he says. "At my age, I knew I couldn't succeed at golf, but I had a great shot at succeeding with Cold Stone. So we went ahead and got involved with two franchises."

Salatich hopes the franchise will ensure a secure retirement, putting him and his wife back in control of their destiny. "I look forward to the day I can say 'I'm retired,'" he says. "This is an investment we hope will provide us with what we need in the future so we can retire comfortably."

Never Too Late

Those who fear that 50 is too late to buy a franchise may want to think again. Age is not an accurate representation of your energy or ability to succeed. A recent study conducted by the National Council on the Aging found one-third of Americans in their 70s consider themselves middle-aged. "People who are 68 can be all over the map," says Taylor. "Some have the vitality of a 22-year-old, and [others] have no vitality."

The Joneses, Weinberg and Salatich all agree that getting off to a late start was actually an advantage. "At 50, you're much more realistic," says Weinberg. "You have many more tools in your arsenal if you've been in the business world for those preceding 30 years."

These franchisees are going strong. The Joneses don't plan to stop at one franchise. They hope that in five years, they'll be able to start looking for a second franchise. Eventually, Weinberg will turn his franchise over to his son, move to the South with his wife, and try retirement again. Salatich's future will be filled with ice cream. He plans to hire a general manager to run three locations while he and his wife focus on planning, marketing and possible expansion.

One thing is for sure: Even after the age of 50, it's never too late to take a leap of faith and begin again. "You've heard people say, and you've maybe said yourself 'If I had only known this when I was younger, I would have done things differently,'" says Dan Jones. "In a way, this was kind of that chance."

Before You Start
Are you ready to start over but don't quite know how? Stuart Taylor, co-founder of Menlo Park, California-based Your New Career Inc., shares some tips on what to consider before opening a franchise.
  • Examine your finances. Evaluate how much money you will need to live and how much will be allocated to purchasing and operating the franchise. Says Taylor, "The worst thing when starting a business is to run out of money five months after you start."
  • Consider going into business with a partner who complements your strengths and weaknesses. "It's always good to get a partner," he says. "You want someone who will really go fight with you on an even basis."
  • Seek objective advice from people other than family and friends. Says Taylor, "I believe strongly in having someone outside your immediate sphere of family or friends, [who tend to be] either completely down on the idea or overly euphoric about it."
  • Make sure it's something you love doing. Taylor explains, "It's really a fact-finding, due-diligence type of exercise, starting with yourself and then other things around you to see if this is something you want to do."
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This article was originally published in the August 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Coming of Age.

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