Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: How Elizabeth Schwartz Reinvented Herself as a Soloist In Her 60’s

 

By Shana Clarke
 

Liz_hi_res_2.jpg

Elizabeth Schwartz of Better Speech Now wants every voice to be heard. The speech pathologist primarily works with clients on accent reduction and modification, which they find can be a barrier to career advancement. Beyond her pronunciation work with non-native speakers, she also helps clients develop strong presentation skills and educates them on how to be better interviewees when applying for a job. In general, “I solve communication conundrums,” she says.  She’s been in the field for over 25 years, but didn’t expect to become a Soloist at an age when others retire.

Throughout her career Elizabeth changed jobs several times, always working as an employee at a company. However, after being let go from her last job, she realized she was at a crossroads. 

By this time I was in my early sixties, I was tired of  having a boss, especially ones that were younger than my own kids
— Elizabeth

“I had just had it.” Plus, she knew finding a job at her age might prove to be challenging. Instead of job-hunting, she seized the opportunity to branch out on her own and start her own practice.

The Queens-based Soloist and a business partner identified accent modification as a niche and underserved need in her community;  “I’m in Astoria, which is fertile ground for this type of work. [The community] is so diverse,” she says. Although the vision was clear, the process was daunting. “I’m from a social service background and didn’t know anything about business,” she says  “I didn’t know how to set one up, what form a business should take, know how to get the word out - I didn’t know anything.”  One of their first steps was getting in touch with an organization called the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC).  “They’re a Queens-based nonprofit that really help small businesses in every aspect,” from workshops to mentoring to general support. They helped her write a business plan and assisted with all the “nuts and bolts.”

In 2012, she and her business partner entered - and won - a QEDC startup competition. “I couldn’t believe it, I thought my business plans sucked!” she laughs. “So, that’s how I got off the ground.”  From there she started networking, building her website, creating a social media presence, and “telling every person I  met what I do.” 

As exhibited by the work with QEDC, community support was a huge part of her success. She connected with the Queens library system and started doing workshops for them. “Since Queens has such a large immigrant population, it was ideal,” she says. “They didn’t pay me but it was just for the purpose of educating the community on what I do.” She also found a space at an arts and music center, located just a few blocks from her house, as a place to meet with clients. She says the owners are very accommodating and flexible with rates, which is a huge boon to her business.
 

Although Elizabeth and her partner split about two and a half years ago, Elizabeth loves being a solopreneur, especially at this point in her life. “It just worked out that way and it’s been just great.”

Interested in working with Elizabeth? Connect with her on Prefer.

 
Soloist Collective