After losing his engineering job at Whirlpool in 2009, Mike Tilley decided it was time to work for himself. He researched a variety of franchises before he and his wife, Cathy, bought an existing Mr. Handyman franchise in Kalamazoo, Michigan, by cashing in his 401(k) retirement fund.
Tilley used the money to pay the $60,000 franchise fee and invested another $158,000 to buy equipment and to cover other business expenses.
“You really need to believe in yourself to do this,” said Tilley. He was lucky. His franchise was breaking even by the third month and was on the road to profitability by the end of the first year.
Tilley is one of thousands of former corporate executives taking advantage ...