How do you imagine your life after age 50? For many of us, that’s when you hope to reap the benefits of all the hard work, late nights, and weekends that you put in years before. Bob McEwen never got that chance. “Early in January of 2009, I was laid off with many others, primarily because the products I had been managing went away.”

McEwen, a Six Sigma Black Belt, was managing mortgage insurance products when the mortgage market crashed in 2008. He’d spent years in the corporate world after a stint in the Navy and time manufacturing missile systems. But the real bomb dropped when McEwen received that layoff notice. He knew it was coming, but that didn’t make it any less frightening.

“After being laid off, I assumed I would continue in the corporate world, but I was over 50 and the economy was tough,” said McEwen. “I wasn’t getting any nibbles for employment and self-employment had never been on my radar.”

“One day my wife came home from work and told me about a franchise expo sponsored by The Entrepreneur’s Source (TES),” McEwen continued. “My first reaction was that I wouldn’t want to do a franchise. I thought about it, though, then saw an ad in the newspaper, checked it out online and thought it might be worth it to at least check it out.”

It was a decision that changed the course of his life forever. Bob and his wife ended up spending the entire Friday at Franchise Expo Live, exploring dozens of opportunities. There was so much more to discover that he went back for a second day on Saturday. “Of all of the franchises I spoke to, the sign manufacturing industry seemed to stand out to me.”

That’s how he met Dan Prendergast, an alternative career coach with The Entrepreneur’s Source®.

“(I) started to do research on Signworld, a franchise opportunity, as well as a few others Dan recommended,” said Bob. “I did my exploration on others, but always leaned strongly toward the sign manufacturing industry, so that’s where I ultimately ended up.”

Prendergast says his focus is on the client. His role is to help them discover their goals, needs and expectations.

“We’re working with our clients to help them understand how to use a business as a vehicle to achieve their I.L.W.E. (Income, Lifestyle, Wealth, Equity) goals,” Prendergast says. “Through our coaching methodology and the technology-based resources that we use, this helps us, along with the client, establish what their career transition looks like.”

Bob found that he was able to put his years of experience in manufacturing and finance to use with his SignCraft Solutions business, but he didn’t have any experience with signage before starting the business. Not having experience in the world of a particular franchise is a big concern for many would-be franchisees.

“Signworld helped relieve some of my fears by confirming that with their training and guidance, I would be able to know what to do,” said Bob. “I visited several sign companies across five different states and it gave me a pretty good feel for what I was getting myself into.”

The road to self-employment is hardly ever easy and Bob’s experience was no different. “Early on I worked 70+ hour weeks, six days a week.” But now that McEwen’s business is established, his days have fallen into a comfortable routine, managing projects, meeting customers, and location visits for measurements. Gone are the days of sitting in the same office day after day. Now McEwen is calling his own shots and reaping unexpected benefits. “It’s also been good to see how we have been able to help our employees support their families and see them grow and progress,” said McEwen. He and his wife now employ ten other members of their community.

McEwen never regrets making the choice to take control of his career for himself.

“For those facing layoff, I think you need to be open minded and be honest with yourself.”

Bob McEwen took his journey of discovery and learned that there is plenty of life after layoff left to live. You can begin exploring your options from the comfort of your own home by visiting FranchiseMatch.com .