It’s never too late to follow your dreams and start your own business

| November 19, 2015

Did you know people age 55-64 are one of the fastest growing groups of business owners?

“When you are that age you often are done with your main job and think to yourself you want to have fun now and do what you’ve always loved,” said Jeanne Keenan, a small business advisor with the Ohio Small Business Development Center in New Philadelphia. “A lot of people in that age group didn’t choose their job because they loved it. They chose it because it provided income for their lifestyle, but now they have the opportunity to do something they love.”

According to statistics she gathered one in four Americans between the ages of 44-70 desire to start their own business within the next five to 10 years.

One person who took that jump was Katie Hultz who recently left her position at WTNS to go fulltime with her baking business, Katie Bakes.

“Having my own business has always been a thought in the back of my mind, I just never knew exactly what I wanted it to be,” she said. “Throughout the years I have tried direct selling, dabbling in Princess House Crystal, Cutco Knives and Mary Kay, but never found a true fit for me. As far back as 20 years an old friend of mine and I were talking about a cookie business. But neither one of us had the time or resources to make it happen. So it stayed just that, a dream. I have always had a small interest in cake and cookie decorating, as my mother had a side business doing the same thing when I was growing up. I never really talked to her about learning it, but did observe her often…and picked up a few techniques. I dabbled in decorating through the years, doing family projects, and didn’t realize it at the time, but did have a desire to get creative with it, making a stereo cake, complete with an album, for my brothers birthday when I was 15.”

Hultz started sharing her talent with others in 2011 when a neighbor asked her to make cookies for her daughter’s birthday.

“It hit me at that time that this would be a good opportunity for me to get creative again,” Hultz said. “Her birthday was toward the end of October, and the colors she wanted were white, hot pink and black. I decided to do untraditional Halloween cookies in those colors and she liked them. Several people had asked her if I made cookies for other people, and that is where it all kind of got started. I got orders into the fall, and then the Christmas season, and things grew from there.”

However, at this point in time she still considered her baking as more of a hobby than a serious business.

“Working at WTNS was a job I really loved, so I never once considered I would do anything other than that,” Hultz said. “Over the next several years, I began to get repeat customers, bigger orders, and expanded into cakes and cupcakes for birthdays and other celebrations, including weddings. Then things began to get crazy. The hours in the day dwindled, and it seemed that all I was doing was working, baking and sleeping, well, sleeping sometimes.”

Hultz is the type of person who likes to put 100 percent into what she is doing. When she realized she couldn’t do that for both her work and hobby she decided it was time to make a change.

“Making that decision was the hardest thing I had to do,” she said. “And it was also the scariest thing I have ever done. But I chose to follow the dream and try the baking business and see where I could take it. I waited longer than I probably should have just due to the fact that I did not have the confidence I needed. But with the support of my family and my work family, I ended up getting that confidence and finally decided it was time. I wasn’t sure there was ever going to be a perfect time, so I decided to just go for it.”

Her family and friends have been very encouraging and she is thankful for that, but Hultz noted that her customers are probably her biggest inspiration.

“Putting their ideas into a sweet creation for their event, and then hearing how pleased they are, is the best inspiration anyone could have,” she said. “I don’t know if I could ever thank my customers enough, because they are the ones who are truly responsible for letting me follow my dream business.”

If you have a dream like Hultz, but need someone to bounce your idea off of, the Ohio Small Business Development Center is a great place to turn to for assistance. Keenan said she can meet with clients at the Coshocton Port Authority and at the Tolloty Tech Center in New Philadelphia. Services are free and meetings are held in the strictest confidence.

“We meet face to face with clients to have them tell us their ideas and then ask a lot of questions to guide them along,” Keenan said.

The first step she helps with is writing a business plan. This includes your idea, why you want to do it, how much it’s going to cost, who your customers will be, how you will market your product and who your competition is. She also helps you analyze the financial side of the business and figure out if you are going to make money.

“Your business plan can take several months or years,” Keenan said. “It’s a lot of research, but it helps clients see the whole picture.”

Hultz is still doing research to help her move her business forward.

“Because I do not have a culinary background, having my own business allows me the time to research online, and network with other bakers, and to watch videos that help me improve my skills,” she said. “Another thing I absolutely love about my business is the many customers who have become friends. What a sweet way to obtain new friends.”

Right now Hultz bakes from home and has vendor space at Local Bounty. She also takes orders any time, offers cookie and cake classes and plans to get a website up and running to help expand her customer base out of the area.

“I am also working on a favorite’s cookbook, together with my daughter,” Hultz said. “I also have plans to expand my offerings in the future to total dessert tables and homemade party supplies…but I have to take things one at a time. Stay in one lane for now, so to speak…but still plan for the future.”

When trying to decide if starting your own business is the right move for you, Keenan suggests asking yourself a few questions.

  1. What’s in it for me? Will your business generate income, help you share professional knowledge, turn your passion into profit or strengthen your financial security?
  2. Do you have what it takes? Do you have the time, energy, health, skills, experience, finances, and lifestyle? Is there a gap in the market? Are you a risk taker?

Sometimes starting your own business can even help you enjoy life more.

“The things I like about my business are the freedom it allows me to make my own schedule and to still allow me the time to do other things near and dear to me, as I do some volunteering with a couple of our community organizations,” Hultz said. “I like the fact that I have more time with my family, and I am able to help more with raising my youngest grandson, Hayden.”

If you are considering starting your own business, but would like someone to bounce your ideas off of, contact Keenan at the local Ohio Small Business Development Center at 330-308-7522.

“As scary as the decision was to make (to start my own business), it is also very exciting, and about the only thing that can hold me back is, well, me,” Hultz said. “So the advice I would give to someone else who is thinking about starting their own business is…go for it. Don’t sell yourself short. If you have a niche for something, follow your dream. If you are doing what you love, you will be successful.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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