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The contrarian thinker: When life gives you lemons, make entrepreneur-ade

Community Columnist

Increasingly, I see clients moving into retirement earlier than anticipated.

Whether their jobs were “outsourced” or “downsized” or they’re “encouraged” to retire early, the boomer generation faces a “now what?” challenge.

As my title says, there is nothing novel about a tried and true solution to this challenge. Though “just keep working” isn’t what every baby boomer envisioned for their retirement years, a June 2011 Gallup Poll found that the 80 percent of us plan to work in retirement.

As everyone knows, many “boomer” investors had the unfortunate experience of seeing their retirement assets ravaged by market ups and downs over the last 12 years starting with the bursting NASDAQ (or dot-com) bubble.

Many ended up down, way down, but not out by a long shot. Investors are a tough group. Most started humming Jerome Kern’s tune “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.” (Go ahead, put Sinatra’s version on your playlist.)

Americans are a can-do, creative, hard working bunch. The Social Security Administration reports 44 percent of retirement income is “earned.” That means 44 percent of most retiree’s income is from a post-retirement source other than investment income or social security. Finding their investments and social security not providing enough income, 44 percent changed the question from “Now what?” to “What’s next?”

Leveraging your biggest assets — what is next?

A smart retirement plan involves wise asset management. Besides family, your biggest assets are your skills, abilities and experience. Smart retirees must start thinking about ways to supplement their income in retirement by leveraging those assets and getting entrepreneurial.

It is good for you, your family and your community.

Two such successful local entrepreneurs have shared their stories with me, so that I could share them with you. They embody the entrepreneurial spirit right here in Cazenovia. Darlene Norris, of Cazenovia, was faced with this early retirement situation when her medical records company downsized three years ago. Darlene didn’t get discouraged. A year after leaving her previous employer she started Spotless Spaces Cleaning Service. In the same spirit, Mike Manion, retired from New Process Gear a few years back, saw a burgeoning need for in-home aides for the elderly. His business provides not only income but also fulfills an increasing and vital need in our community.

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