The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Business

April 5, 2014

CARL KNOBLOCK | Living the ‘Aha!’ moment

— The “Aha!” moment. It’s that instant of inspiration that leads one to entrepreneurship.

For some, it’s a milestone birthday, loss of employment or becoming an empty nester.

For others, it’s an urge to fulfill a creative, professional or philosophical void.

For me, it was the chance to become a positive change agent when I opened a small environmental consulting firm that specialized in chemical and biological agents. I wore many hats during my tenure, but I was able to live the American dream of small business ownership.

John Tubridy experienced his “Aha!” moment 10 years ago, when he found himself facing his 50th birthday and yet another corporate reorganization and relocation.

He told me his past with the insurance company where he once was gainfully employed helped shape his future as an encore entrepreneur.

“Ever since I was in college, I always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur,” Tubridy explained. “During my corporate tenure, we helped other companies transition terminated employees to new careers. I noticed many people my age leaving, starting their own business and doing more in life.”

When he turned 50, Tubridy realized that he, too, wanted more.

“I had a burning desire to fulfill my dreams and do something that would build equity for me and my family,” he said.

Tubridy did his homework and opted to open a firm that mirrored his passion.

“I had worked with FranNet, a franchise consulting firm, and was intrigued with how the organization helps pair entrepreneurs with franchise options,” he stated. “When they [FranNet] had a territory open in western Pennsylvania, I knew the timing and the business was right for me.”

For the past 10 years, Tubridy has crisscrossed the region carrying out FranNet’s mission. He also lectures at conferences and has been on numerous local television shows.

“Small business ownership isn’t always about the money,” he firmly stated. “It’s also about freedom and prestige. Whether you are opening a franchise or turning your passion into a business, you have to do some research – understand the industry, yourself and what you want out of life.”

Tubridy told me his biggest client base is the 40- to 60-year-olds.

According to recent data from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, individuals in the 55-64 age group represent the highest rate of entrepreneurship in today’s economy.

Tubridy said business ownership often is too risky for a 30-something, while individuals over 40 have acquired equity.

This month, the SBA and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) are joining forces to showcase Encore Entrepreneurship.

We’re offering both online webinars and community events designed to offer

technical assistance to help individuals, regardless of age, open the doors to small business ownership.

Tubridy admitted he was wise to wait 30 years before embarking on entrepreneurship, citing a lack of equity, confidence and skills.

He’s right. Encore entrepreneurs I have met and counseled not only possess the above, but they also have a strong work ethic, managerial experience and a lifetime of networking contacts.  

“Even though I waited, it (small business ownership) was still scary,” Tubridy said. “But, once I made my decision, I became jazzed up.”

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