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Traverse City entrepreneurs hear about starting a business


Prospective encore entrepreneurs turned out at a "How to Start a Business" workshop in Traverse City today sponsored by AARP Michigan and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

They heard from experts about writing a business plan, securing financing, tapping into marketing resources and other advice for entrepreneurs age 50 and older.

Participants also learned the facts and figures about launching a business from Jennifer Feuerstein of AARP Michigan, including:

-- 63 percent of Americans plan to work during retirement.

-- In 2013, businesses started by those55-64 accounted for one-quarter of all new startups.

-- 55-64-year-olds start new businesses at a higher rate than those in their 20s and 30s.

Brian Picarazzi, senior area manager with the U.S. Small Business Administration, said the federal government spends $533 billion each year on goods and services and 23 percent of contracts must go to small business. The SBA specializes in providing access to consuilting, contracts and capital, he said.

"Yes.. you do need to write a business plan, formal or informal," said Annie Shetler-Olds of the state's Small Business Development Center.

She noted that the chief reasons businesses fail are: inadequate planning, insufficient capital, inexperienced management, lack of business knowledge and wrong location.

Marshall Persky of SCORE Traverse City Chapter told attendees that twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 than under 25. He added that 67 percent of new businesses succeed after four years.

"You must have a passion for your business," Persky said.

Lynda Herkner, co-owner of Herkner's Original Fruit Toppings, is one entrepreneur who had a passion. A family financial crisis prompted she and her two sisters -- all in their 60s aned 70s -- to start producing and marketing a cherry topping product based on a family recipe. She got started using local resources.

"We have grown by leaps and bounds," Herkner told the group. They're now talking to SCORE about expanding their business and exploring ways to keep their price down.

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AARP Michigan and the SBA willhost two more workshops this month in Grand Rapids on April 23 from 9 a.m. to noon at  the Fifth Third Bank Building, 111 Lyon NW and in Lansing on April 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Lansing Community College, 309 N. Washington Square.

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