Those just a few years away from retirement may actually beclose to a new career, instead.

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According to the new Index of Entreprenuerial Activity, justreleased by the KauffmanFoundation, near retirees (aged 55-64) represent 23 percent ofnew entrepreneurs in America. When the study was conducted in 1996,the age group represent 15 percent of new entrepreneurs.

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In a press release about the results, David Goldbaum, a retiredeconomist and the founder of Franchise Economics Inc., listedseveral reasons for the upswing in entrepreneurial interest

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1. Retirees live longer than ever. Theaverage 55-year-old American will live another 30 years, accordingto statistics from the Centers forDisease Control. The active and health conscious will livesignificantly longer. Thirty years is more than enough tobuild and enjoy a small business.

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2. Retirees will stay healthier longer thanever. Advanced medical care and trends in healthyconsumption and attitudes have made pre-retirees a highlyproductive and capable group of Americans. Retirees are ideallysuited to operate a business that suits their background and skillsand is targeted at their financial goals.

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3. Small business ownership is a great way to stayphysically active and mentally stimulated. A businessmatched to the individual's temperament, lifestyle goals, andinterests can contribute to physical and mental health.

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4. Many may need the income. This recession hasforced so many near retirees into unemployment or early retirementwhile the decline in home values has significantly reduced nesteggs. The percentage of employees "not at all confident" abouthaving sufficient income for a comfortable retirement grew from 22percent in 2010 to 27 percent through March 2011, according to theEmployee Benefits Research Institute's Retirement Confidence Survey. A small business may be justthe right approach for income shortfalls provided there is enoughavailable for the initial investment including working capital.

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5. Franchise businesses make it easier to getstarted. Retirees won’t have to start from scratch and canreduce the risks involved in any business startup by taking afranchise approach to business ownership. With so many successfulcorporations turning to franchising their businesses, there arefranchise opportunities in almost every industry and market.

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6. Communities really benefit. Near retireesand retirees that bring decades of business experience to acommunity contribute to the economic welfare of the entirecommunity by providing services and often employment opportunitiesfor others. It is a great way to contribute.

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