Originally created 07/23/01

Launching a new business at age 70



ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - At 70, most people are retired or thinking seriously about it.

JoAnne Weaver certainly was. She had worked 25 years as a church administrator in Wisconsin and Illinois. When she and her husband moved to Albuquerque in 1994 to be closer to their daughter, she had every intention of hanging up her calculator.

Instead she started her first business, launching The Board Room on April 1 using money set aside for retirement.

"Except for some creaky bones, I feel like I'm 40," Weaver said. "I had to really think about making such a commitment at 70, but deep down I felt it was the right thing to do."

The Board Room provides meeting facilities and administrative, secretarial and bookkeeping services to small businesses, nonprofits and professional associations. Weaver's background as a chief operating officer, chief financial officer, controller, business manager, bookkeeper and event planner prepared her for the work.

Weaver was thinking retirement during the move to Albuquerque. "The first eight months I was here, I flew back and forth to Illinois to finish my work at Wheaton Bible Church," she said.

Just weeks after wrapping up her work in Illinois, Weaver met business people here who needed administrative help. She took on a couple of clients, and a couple more. "I realized early this year that I was either going to have to pull back because I was working out of my home office, or go ahead full tilt," she said. "It seemed like the right move."

The Weavers relocated to be closer to daughter Deborah Weaver Parker, a former teacher who started her own business, Dynamic Growth Strategies, a year ago. The company does management and strategic consulting.

Their other daughter, Denise Weaver Ross, moved to Albuquerque from Boston in 1996 and started her own company, WRINC, which does graphic design and network support.

"After living across the country from our daughters for 20 years, this is nice," Weaver said.

In May, she formed a business alliance with Parker and Ross. The three companies share a building and an office manager. "The businesses are complimentary. We each have parts of our jobs the others can do," Weaver said. "Deborah may have a client who needs graphic design, and Denise might have someone who needs management help. Either one might need a meeting facility, which I have."

Ross said it's not only fun working with her mother, but lucrative. "She's introduced me to a lot of my clients," she said.

The company is doing well and is ahead of the schedule set out in the business plan, Weaver said. She said it was expensive to start up, and the hours have been long, but she has no regrets.

"It hasn't been an overwhelming challenge because I wanted to do it," she said. "I'm very happy."

(Nancy Salem writes for the Albuquerque Tribune in New Mexico)