When I retired at the age of 62, it was a forced retirement. I had been working in customer service for almost ten years, mostly resolving technical issues for computers and cell phones. I was reasonably good at it by any standard, because the customer was happier at the end of the call than at the beginning.
My last job was with a major satellite distribution company. I was in the two-month training program and, at the end of it, we came to a mutual decision – I would leave. I didn’t feel all that bad about the change in my status because I had been doing this kind of thing for ten years or more and, to be frank, I was burned out. I really didn’t want to take another phone call, and, even today, I don’t like to pick up a phone.
It was then I discovered corporate prejudice. The unwritten corporate attitude was simple – I should curl up on a bench somewhere, gather dust and, at the earliest convenint moment die. It was around that time when I also discovered that the corporate attitude extended to professionals as young as fifty. Myself and others in and around my age group were no longer valuable assets.
To add insult to injury, I was let go during one of the most severe economic readjustments in current history. The junk mortgage bubble had burst, and unemployment rose to double digits, in some cases.
Response in some areas of the corporate world was equally swift. Jobs that had been worth between $10 and $12 an hour were devalued to around $8 with some going as low as the state minimum wage. Overall, not a pretty sight.
Looking For A Pony
When I returned to the Puget Sound area, I made a concsious choice to avoid in-bound customer service. Partly because, when I put in my resume for the one job that was close to where I live, I encountered the same attitudes toward my age. Enough was enough. I decided to take time to figure out what to do next.
I looked into selling gold, but found many of the companies were not all that honest. Next I studied to be an auctioneer, but the money needed to enter the field was prohibitive. I looked at liquidation, which can be quite lucrative, but discovered that the pallets I bought were, more often than not, forty-percent unsalable junk.
I felt like I was the little boy in the pony joke. The boy wanted a pony for his birthday. Instead, he got a room filled with horse dung. He promptly got a shovel and started digging down into the pile because he was convinced there was a pony in there somewhere.
Why Even Bother
Being on a fixed income is not as much fun as you might think. It limits choices to a considerable degree, and I still have things I want to do and experience. One of my passions is live theater and the Ashland Shakespere Festival is just a one day drive from my home. I want to spend some time in Canada and, perhaps even Hawaii. My wife would love to visit Paris and, although springtime is said to be the most romantic time to visit, I would venture my wife would love Paris even in the dead of winter.
The real reason I want to start a small business is to remain culturally relevant. I want to believe that, as a result of my business efforts, that I am still a valuable and valid member of society, even on a small scale.
Why A Drop-Ship Business Model?
Throughout my life I’ve met people who have lived well into their eighties and nineties and lead very active lives. They were curious about everything and willing to explore new ideas and challenges. They purposely chose opportunities that opened doors to new learning experiences.
The result was that they stayed “young at heart.”
A drop-ship business, for someone my age, is ideal for several reasons:
It creates nearly infinite opportunities for sales. There is always a new product being introduced and a new market to explore.
I can represent a nearly infinite number of vendors, ranging from large companies to small artists and craftspeople.
Each product creates new and unique marketing challenges. The goal is always to find qualified buyers for the product – those with the authority and financial resources to act.
Because I don’t hold inventory, I can focus my attention on creating a highly effective marketing campaign for each product which maximizes the return on commissions.
Finally, the business is designed around my lifestyle. I can create a balance between the time, energy and effort involved in building the business and the doors it opens for personal growth and development.
Is the business “drop off the log” easy? No, of course not. Like anything worth doing it takes time, energy, effort and commitment. Will it pay off? As with anything we do as human beings, the honest answer is “I don’t know.” I will, however, do everything possible to turn the business into a money-making endeavor.
Some Closing Thoughts
To be blunt, I never really thought I would live this long. I have no idea how long I will live. The only thing I know for certain is I won’t get out of this life alive. At some point the Grim Reaper will come to collect and, no matter how much money or power I have, I won’t be able to resist.
Until then, I will live my life as fully as possible. In many ways, this is a selfish act. I’m not doing this for my wife, kids or grandkids, although I do want to be around to see what kind of person they become. While I may create trusts that my children and grandchildren can enjoy, I’m doing it for the joy of the learning experience.
Creating the business is a selfish act as well. If I am going to live into my eighties and nineties, I want to enjoy the journey and remain a valid and valuable asset to my community. Money allows that. Whether I take the journey to the extreme and become a millionaire is not really the point. Most likely I will earn and manage my money to create a comfortable lifestyle and go no further.
How far will I go on this journey? I don’t know. Its a journey. Half the fun is exploring the road ahead.
Think of these columns as an ongoing personal letter with a particular point of view about how to earn, manage and invest money in ways that give you the resources to (1) define the quality of your lifestyle creatively, (2) create cash reserves for emergencies and (3) have the ability to invest in yourself and your lifestyle conservatively. Keep in mind that I am not a financial guru, nor am I a financial expert. I am simply sharing my point of view.
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