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Jewish World Review March 7, 2001 / 12 Adar, 5761

Small Business Advisor by Paul Tulenko

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Consumer Reports

Never too late to start a business? -- IS there an age after which you shouldn't think of starting a business of your own?

What a dumb question! Of course not! Entrepreneurs have started successful ventures in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and, some even in their 90s.

Harland Sanders founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken empire at 65. Tony Bennett is reaching young people with new music at age 73. Lee Iacocca of Chrysler Corporation fame is putting his marketing muscle behind the electric-powered bicycle at age 75.

Dr. Robert Ross, commodities broker, founder of Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica and the Ross School of Veterinary Medicine on St. Kitts, is again in the limelight at 82 with his third and fourth careers, bringing nurses and aides into U.S. hospitals and marketing a new way to educate the world.

It's no longer acceptable for men and women in what society calls their Golden Years to quit living and become bored to death. That magical age of 65-inching-up-to-70 is something government has arbitrarily put out there as retirement age, and it's a waste of lives and talents. People over 55 (the age at which we become 'seniors'), which includes many of you reading this right now, were brought up to be contributing members of our society, not gourds destined to wither on the vine. Sitting around and watching the paint dry is not something we expected nor wanted to have happen, so let's do something about it.

Dr. Ross is my poster person for success over 55. At 82, Ross is a man who doesn't understand the word 'quit.'. For example, if you wonder why you can never find a doctor in your area, ask the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, a regulatory agency sponsored by the American Medical Association of American Medical Colleges (an accreditation group) why they enforce a limit on medical school enrollment to around 16,000 a year in the United States.

In 1989 there were 24,000 applicants for those 16,000 positions, and this grew to 49,000 in 1999. Ask them why there are only 125 medical schools in the United States. Ask them why they absolutely refuse to allow foreign medical universities and schools to open branches in the United States.

Ross asked, and was told he should close up his foreign Dominica University, move it lock, stock and dollars to Casper, Wyo. (the state's highly supported site planned for the Ross University branch), and that the committee would then look favorably on accrediting the new university as a U.S. school, but not if it was in any way connected with a foreign school.

In other words, we (the AMA) have a monopoly and we intend to keep it that way. In 1999 Ross University was sold to the same group of investors that started the Edison Group schools in New York, and is doing fine, producing physicians and veterinarians that take the U.S. tests and practice in the United States, should they desire.

So what's this octogenarian doing now? He's started a new online state-of-the-art university called International Distance Learning Inc. ( devoted to teaching the curricula of U.S. universities to students throughout the world, particularly in Eastern Europe, Far East, Africa, Middle East and third world countries via the Internet, using stand-alone modules or other electronic methods. Students can obtain degrees from U.S. universities and from universities in their specific country. He is also working to bring qualified nurses and aides into the U.S. to relieve the shortage of nurses in hospitals.

Now back to you, me and everyone over 55 who hates being labeled a senior citizen. You're experts in something; do something with your knowledge. Start a new business, set yourself up as an expert mentor, join SCORE (the Small Business Administration's Service Corps of Retired Executives) or find something else where you can use those talents you developed over the years. Whatever you do, get on with it.

Paul Tulenko is the coordinator of the Small Business Development Center in Albuquerque, N.M. Comment by clicking here.


03/02/01: Choosing a company name
02/20/01: Tax tips for small business owners
02/13/01: Don't get the small-biz blues: You're not alone
02/06/01: How to communicate at the office
01/30/01: Before advertising, do your homework
01/23/01: Before you start selling a service online

© 2001 SHNS