Charlotte Bishop: “I feel that I’m not doing this alone.”
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A retired professor leverages her skills to help other seniors
Charlotte Bishop is organized.
As a single working mother in the Bronx, NY, she sent two sons through college — and, to hear her tell it, outstanding organizational skills were the key.
“Organization is not a luxury; it’s a lifestyle,” she likes to say. In fact, that’s the motto for her business, Life Files Professionals. Charlotte and her son, Evan, officially launched the company in September 2012, offering organizing systems that integrate environmentally friendly practices.
After she retired from her position as a professor at the City University of New York, she found that many of her friends and neighbors were asking her to help them organize their documents. “I had a reputation,” she says. And so Life Files Professionals was born.
But even though Charlotte had launched her business, she didn’t have a business plan and wasn’t sure she was on the right track. In early 2018, she brought her concerns to AARP Foundation’s Work for Yourself@50+ program at the Harlem Business Alliance.
Older adults have skills and talents they may not know how to apply in an entrepreneurial setting. Work for Yourself@50+ helps participants find resources and avoid pitfalls, and offers practical guidance on how to use their skills to increase their income.
Like many Work for Yourself@50+ participants, Charlotte felt that the obstacles she experienced as an entrepreneur were unique to her as an older adult. “It is so comforting to know that these experiences are not mine alone,” she explains. “I now realize they are what many new entrepreneurs experience.”
Work for Yourself@50+ has given me the confidence to trust my instincts.
“AARP Foundation gave me a roadmap to review the steps we had already taken. It also helped me to understand my experience with fear,” she adds. “Work for Yourself@50+ has given me the confidence to trust my instincts” — instincts, she notes, that are often supported by solid research.
At age 73, Charlotte has a particular interest in helping other seniors. She works with many older adults, helping them to digitize important documents and reclaim space in their homes while reducing clutter.
Because many of her clients are seniors themselves, Charlotte knows it can be difficult to identify the right marketing and communications channels to reach them. Looking ahead, she’s put marketing at the top of her priority list and is continuing to take advantage of coaching at the Harlem Business Alliance. In addition, she uses an online business planning software to identify the next steps that will be the most beneficial to her business.
With more than six years of entrepreneurship under her belt, Charlotte now has clients across the Tri-State area and is a model of success for current and future Work for Yourself@50+ participants. Aside from the guidance and resources she’s gained from the program, she’s found it beneficial in one other, crucial respect.
“I don’t feel as isolated as I have in the past,” she says. “I feel that I’m not doing this alone.”