As Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) begin to retire, many are discovering that perhaps traditional retirement is not for them. Some have money worries and would like an active income source even as they step away from their job. Others find retirement to be boring and have too much energy and passion to sit in a rocking chair all day. Individual stories differ, but there is no denying the trend: Boomer entrepreneurs are on the rise!
If you are playing around with the idea of doing something productive (and profitable) in retirement, there are a few questions you will want to consider before you jump into the deep end.
What is your goal?
Perhaps you would like to generate an additional $2,000 a month to supplement your other income sources. Maybe money is not your primary motivator and you are looking for a flexible way to be productive, connect with your community and have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It helps to begin with clarity for what you are trying to accomplish because everyone’s definition of success will be different.
What are your skills and strengths?
Would you like to rekindle your love of making jewelry? How about building on two decades of work as a teacher by selling tutoring services? Think about your unique strengths and skills and how they can be used to create something valuable. Go outside your resume and build a list that honors the broad spectrum of things you are great at.
What type of business would suit you?
Some Boomers would prefer a remote-working arrangement whereby they work for an established company from their home office. With today’s technology, this option can offer an attractive combination of financial stability, flexibility, and independence.
A franchise of an established business is another idea to consider. Franchises work particularly well for those who like the idea of having a business blueprint and a set of guidelines to follow from the start.
Finally, there is true self-employment where you create and run your very own business. This path offers the most flexibility and comes with the most uncertainty.
What is your investment?
Depending on the type of business that inspires your dream, investment levels can vary considerably. For example, if you are thinking about launching an Etsy shop to sell your custom-designed baby hats, your initial investment will include the cost of yarn, knitting tools, storage containers, packing materials and a selling page on Etsy. You could be well under way for under $500 in startup funds!
On the other hand, if you have always wanted to run a breakfast joint and would like to buy into a franchise (such as Another Broken Egg), your initial investment would have to be much higher. Think about your own resources, as well as access to business financing (i.e. small business loans and lines of credit). What can you afford to invest? How would you convince other investors to take a chance on lending you the money?
Other ideas and questions to ponder
There are plenty of business startup ideas online, many of them focused on “Boomers for Boomers” services such as caregiving, daily help with household finances, fitness instruction, relocation logistics help, and much more. Look for inspiration everywhere, but turn inside for the ultimate decision. Running a business can have its ups and downs. You need to connect to your own “why” in order to power through the tough moments.
Remember there is nothing wrong with starting small. Test your brilliant idea on a small group of potential customers. Talk to them about what they like. Ask for feedback about how you can improve your offering. Turn those few early fans into walking billboards for your business and use this opportunity to make changes to your idea while it is small. Turning a small boat is easier than altering the course of a giant cruise ship, so use your “beginner” size to your advantage.
Of course, no article from a financial planner would be complete without a reminder about the money. Be sure to keep a close eye on the finances of your venture. Unexpected costs, early mistakes, and “trial and error” can get expensive quickly. Create a system for tracking your investment, log your receipts and invoices, analyze what works and what doesn’t. Your goal is to learn as you go and minimize financial surprises.
Finally, resist the temptation to choose “top of the line” starter kit for your new business. Think about your needs and must-haves (fast Internet, laptop, desk or sewing machine), then choose functional tools that are reliable and reasonably priced. That will help you keep a good handle on your startup expenses!