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From badge to business owner

Here are four considerations if you’re thinking about business ownership after retirement

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A former sergeant is putting her skills learned on the force to good use as a business owner.

Photo/Jennifer August

By Jennifer August

In law enforcement, we often think about retirement earlier than in other fields. In fact, the average age of retirement for officers is 55 (according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service), compared to the national average of almost 60 (according to a research website and Survey of Household Economics and Decision Making).

Retiring at a younger age means that many officers have the opportunity to launch a second career. After being a police sergeant and retiring from the force myself, I knew I wanted to do something meaningful and wasn’t ready to give up on a career.

Business ownership gave me the opportunity to do exactly that. I was able to take my career into my own hands and choose the path I wanted.

Along the way, I learned some key lessons and leveraged the skills I learned on the force. Here are four things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about business ownership after retirement:

1. Don’t Waste the Opportunity to Do What You Love

The first step to business ownership is giving thought to what type of industry you’d like to get into and ultimately, what business you’d like to own. It’s important to remember when making this decision that starting a business is a huge commitment; make sure that what you’re investing in is more than just a hobby.

If you make the leap to business ownership, then it should be something that is your true passion. After all, post-retirement is the time to choose what you want from a career standpoint – don’t waste this unique opportunity.

2. Leverage Skills You Learned on the Force

You may not realize that on the force, you’ve already learned skills that directly apply to business ownership.

In my experiences as a police sergeant, I had to make big decisions every single day that I knew would affect others. Often, I had to make decisions quickly and trust my instinct. As a result of the decision-making skills I developed on the force, I am now more than confident in making tough decisions – which happens every day you own your own business.

Law enforcement also teaches valuable leadership skills that are truly unmatched in other lines of work. For instance, I was in charge of a large team, and as a business owner, unless it’s a one-person shop, you will be managing staff. Learning the fundamentals of how to be a good leader on the job is a great launching pad to business ownership. Don’t take these skills for granted; as former police officers we have a unique skillset that positions us perfectly for business ownership.

3. Beware of Scams and Pyramid Schemes

As you begin researching different opportunities, you’ll find there are so many out there claiming to be the next big thing or that you can make money easy while being your own boss. Often these are pyramid schemes that go after people who are eager to start their own business and hook them in with “get rich quick” opportunities.

One piece of advice for your initial research is that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. As a business owner myself, I would not say that it is exactly easy, and it definitely was not easy to surpass over 300 members at my fitness studio in just a few weeks after opening. But, with hard work and perseverance, I followed my passion and got the results.

Before moving on with any brand, make sure to read reviews to make sure it is reputable and seek to interview folks involved with the company. When you do the legwork of actually connecting with a person one-on-one, this is when it becomes more obvious if the opportunity is the real deal, or not.

Another piece of advice if you’re looking into owning your own business and still need some support is researching franchises. This gives you the best of both worlds – owning your own gym, restaurant, etc., while still being strongly supported by the corporate team. Also, by opening a franchise, you are able to work with reputable brands with a proven concept and systems in place that lead you to success.

4. Choose Business Partners You Trust

In our field, you spend your days working with your partner who you literally have to trust your life with. You need to know they’ll have your back. This gives you the skills to be able to look for similar traits in people when you are looking to hire managers, trainers, reception staff, etc.

Although you may not need to trust your business partners and managers with your life, you do need to trust your business with them. The fact of the matter is that you cannot be at your business 24/7, so you’ll need to find the right people who can take charge when you aren’t there.

At the end of the day, it’s your choice on what to do with life after law enforcement. But if you live an active life and aren’t ready to give up on a second career, business ownership may be an option for you. Being in the police force might have been your dream job, but that doesn’t mean that retirement has to be unfulfilling; it can be the perfect chance to try new career opportunities.

About the author

Jennifer August is a former police sergeant with Drexel University. Prior to this, she worked with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department and the Darby Township Police Department. She recently retired after being with the force for 10 years and now owns Jabz Boxing in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, a fitness studio known for its full-body circuit style workout that utilizes boxing inspired exercises designed specifically for all women. Her studio opened in April 2019 to record membership for the emerging fitness brand, which is now franchising across the U.S.