GET INSPIRED: From Freelancer to CEO at 60+ Years Old
By Harriet Hoffman, CEO of Make the Right Choice
Five years ago, I left my full time position as a Director of Institutional Giving at a successful not-for-profit community health center to become a “freelance” grant writer. At first it seemed easy; I picked up some regular clients right away and was doing okay. I liked setting my own schedule and working from home.
Around the same time people began asking me questions about how best to access their social security and/or Medicare benefits. Because my professional background had included both government healthcare funding and senior services programming, I understood health care terminology, government regulations, compliance and budgets – just what is needed to navigate the Medicare maze. By then I was enrolled in social security and Medicare, so I realized how impenetrable and complex the system had become, and I freely gave advice to help others make the most of the benefits they needed and would use for the rest of their lives.
Then, along came the economic downturn and suddenly there wasn’t much work for a “freelancer”.
What was I going to do? A friend suggested I use my expertise to start a new consulting business and charge a fee for the advice I was offering. I thought it was a good idea – I figured it would bring in another income stream and make me more strategic about all the services I offered and the fees I charged – but I didn’t know anything about business!
I heard about a free workshop on entrepreneurship that was being hosted by The All Stars Project’s UX in my neighborhood, and decided to attend. Before the first seminar ended, I knew I needed a plan. I also realized how much I would benefit from the “formal” education of a serious class. So, I decided FastTrac NewVenture was right for me!
I learned many things taking FastTrac NewVenture – the necessity of constant networking, how to set prices, bootstrapping (I’m now an expert), identifying my edge in the marketplace — but most important was the confidence I gained. People see me differently now; I’m someone who took a risk and carved out a new kind of niche in the post-economic downturn economy. FastTrac NewVenture brought out the businesswoman in me that was there the whole time!
My new business, Make the Right Choice, is doing well. I provide personal consultations to guide individuals through the critical but complex process of understanding Medicare and/or Social Security, assessing their options, identifying which ones best meet their needs, and signing up for benefits. And, I’ve found a way to help small businesses reduce their health insurance costs for their older employees.
Harriet Hoffman is the CEO of Make the Right Choice: Your Medicare and Social Security Benefits. Harriet provides personal consultations to guide individuals through the critical but complex process of understanding Medicare and/or Social Security. She also helps small businesses reduce their health insurance costs for their older employees. You can find Harriet online at http://www.harriethoffman.com/.
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The views, opinions, or expressions provided by Harriet Hoffman do not necessarily represent the views, opinions, or expressions of the City of New York, the New York City Department of Small Business Services, and/or NYC Business Solutions.