Monday, January 24, 2011
Make Money Doing Something You Love
Eric Heinbockel graduated from Columbia University in 2008, poised for a career in finance.
His lesson in economics was only beginning. Heinbockel couldn't find a job.
"I had interviews on the days Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros. went under," he recalls. "Nobody got hired in finance on those days."
Heinbockel's sweet dreams of an office on Wall Street melted like chocolate in a hot car.
So he decided to create his own job making custom candy bars.
"We are seeing a lot more entrepreneurs who are looking to start businesses either because they are unemployed or underemployed," says Gary Rago, director of the NJ Small Business Development Center at Rutgers University-Camden.
The center helps about 600 people start and grow companies each year. Alumni include Heinbockel, who launched his businessChocomize with college chums Nick LaCava and Fabian Kaempfer.
The Ivy Leaguers enrolled in a class on writing a business plan taught by Bob Palumbo, a principal at Stokes Creative Group in Vincentown and a Rutgers business counselor.
"What struck me was they already had a good business plan," Palumbo recalls. "They were clearly serious about starting a business and had done their homework."
Because they had no collateral, the partners turned to relatives rather than banks, borrowing $100,000 to buy molds and machinery, the bulk of it from Heinbockel's grandparents.
With no spouses, kids or mortgages, the trio -- all 23 -- figured they were ideally positioned to take a risk. To keep expenses down, they moved into the basement of Heinbockel's parents' house in Cherry Hill.
"That cliche of the college kid who can't find a job and lives in Mom and Dad's basement isn't really a cliche," he says.
"On your own'
Older workers also are creating their own jobs, Rago says. In addition to longtime business relationships, older entrepreneurs often capitalize on severance packages or equity in their homes.