What Seniors Need to Know About Starting a What Seniors Need to Know About Starting a BusinessBusiness

Being your own boss is trendy among seniors, especially as they face workplace age discrimination and the prospect of long and expensive post-retirement lives. People age 55 and up founded more than a quarter of all new businesses in 2014, and there’s no reason to think that trend will decline. Here are some tips if you’re thinking of starting your own business.

Your business needs to fit with your lifestyle

As you plan your business, think about how it will fit into your life. For example, frequent travelers may do best with a business they can manage online rather than one that requires in-person work in a store or office. If you have caregiving responsibilities, you’ll need backup in-home care some of the time so you can give work your full attention while your loved one is well looked after.

Your business has to give customers what they want

Before you invest your post-retirement time in a new business, do some very thorough market research. Who will your customers be? Do they need the products or services you offer? Wil they buy enough to allow you to earn a profit and grow your business? How will they find out about your business? What does the competition look like and how can you set yourself apart? Entrepreneur magazine has a step-by-step article on marketing research for new businesses if you’re not already familiar with the process.

You need a business plan

A basic business plan can help you clarify your goals, stay on track, and know when you’re making progress. You’ll also want a plan to wrap up your business when you’re ready to “really” retire, whether that means closing it down, passing it over to a family member, or selling it to another entrepreneur.

The right support team can help your new business thrive

Most sole proprietors don’t go it truly alone. The successful ones seek out experienced mentors in their field, fellow small business owners for advice and resources, and yes, customers, because listening to them should be your first priority. If you’re not sure how to go about finding a mentor, the US Small Business Administration has a long list of programs that can help pair you with a mentor.

You may need professionals, too. A bookkeeper and a CPA can help you avoid tax-time trauma. Your local bank or credit union can advise you on the best type of business account and payment processing options if you’ll take credit and debit card payments. If you will rent space for your business, have an experienced commercial real estate attorney review the lease before you sign.

As your business grows, you may also need an employee or temporary help at busy times of year. Your home may need extra hands, too. We’ve already mentioned the possible need for caregiving help, and other concierge services can save you time as well. Grocery delivery, housecleaners, and errand-and-chore services can keep your home stocked and shipshape while you’re hard at work on your new venture.

Finally, you’ll want to get your family and friends on board to be supportive of your work, understanding of the changes in your schedule, and eager to let others know about your business.

Find more information on working after retirement on the SeniorAdvisor.com blog.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

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