10 business ideas for retirees
Experience pays off
When you were younger, working was a given — and it was likely in a job or industry that wasn't particularly engaging for you.
Now that you're retired, you have the opportunity to pursue something you love. For many older people, that means starting their own business.
You're certainly not alone. TD Canada Trust recently released a survey that found that 54 per cent of Boomers polled either already have their own business or are thinking of starting one. For many, it's the chance to do something they're genuinely interested in; for those who are unwilling to give up work completely, it's an alternative to trying to find a job in a marketplace where younger competitors willing to work for less are often more appealing to employers.
But that doesn't mean you should start a business from an idea yanked out of a hat. If the notion of stepping out on your own later in life sounds appealing, take these factors into consideration:
Choose an idea you'll follow through on. Whether your motivation is staying active or earning extra income, be certain to go with an idea that you'll be eager (and able) to build on. For instance, starting a business that you find to be more technology-focused than you expected can prove painful. "When it comes to suggested ventures to start ... I always say 'The one that you'll do!' " says Charles Matthews, the executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship Education and Research at the University of Cincinnati. "While entrepreneurship is about conceptualization and formulation, it always comes down to implementation and execution. That is, what idea are you willing to act on and not just contemplate?"
Identify your goals. What time frame do you have in mind for your business? Will you want to sell it in five or 10 years, or pass it along to your heirs?
Do you want to leverage past experience or break new ground? Think about your skills and how much you want to apply them to a business. Many retirees are comfortable making the most of what they already know; others are looking for fresh experiences. If you're interested in something different, can you apply your past experience in some way?
How much risk can you take on? Will your business require significant upfront capital, or can you get up and running on a shoestring? One rule of thumb: Don't dip into your retirement savings to fund the business. Instead, consider other options, such as a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.
Match the business to your lifestyle. How much time do you want the business to take up? If there's a lot of physical activity involved, are you in good enough shape to keep up? Craft the business so it becomes part of your life — not your whole life.
It never hurts to consider a few suggestions to kick-start your thinking. Following are 10 small businesses retires could find rewarding.
Life or business coach
Older people have reams of experience to share, in both their personal and professional capacities. Prospective clients will likely know and value the level of experience that an older coach can bring to a relationship. Another plus for this route is that startup costs can be minimal.
It's not a matter of simply hanging out a shingle and handing out advice, though. Take a life coach course at a nearby college or online, then seek accreditation to boost your credibility. (Find out more at the International Coach Federation.)
If you're going into business coaching, years of business experience may be all the "training" you may need. Again, though, being accredited is an essential additional step. (Check out the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches for more.) "This is particularly suited to an older person who rose to the top of a company or organization," says Norman Scarborough, a professor of information management at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. "You can share what made you successful."
Retirement financial planner
Many financial planners offer a broad array of services, from college-savings strategies to debt reduction. A retirement financial planner, on the other hand, focuses exclusively on retirement-related issues. It's a fertile market: Recent research by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) found that Canadians are not financially prepared to pay for long-term care.
A retirement financial planner can better those odds by offering investment and savings strategies, and guidance on services. Other important issues can also be addressed, such as healthcare coverage, housing options and long-term care insurance.
As with many other professions, accreditation is desirable. Contact the The Canadian Initiative for Elder Planning Studies, for information on training to become an Elder Planning Counselor.