Plus: ideas to get you started.
Entrepreneur New Years Leader
Be inspired by the business resources in our guide and help you meet your goals in 2021.
January 22, 2021 6 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.
If sitting around just isn’t your thing, then retirement is the perfect time to realize the dreams you may have put on hold. Just filling empty hours with pointless relaxation may be the opposite of freedom for many of the 72 million US baby boomers who have worked their entire lives. Starting your own business can be your ideal “retirement lifestyle”.
Six reasons to start a retired business
- Stay active. Studies have shown that within six years of retirement, the average retiree will experience a significant health problem, which often includes heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and depression. Staying motivated, active, and connected is the best way to counteract health declines due to aging. Being active involves exercising every day. Exercise may seem like a daunting task, but being active is easier than you think. A great way to stay active is by starting a business that includes packing materials, going to the post office, and attending networking events. All of this gets your blood pumping.
- Keep yourself mentally alert. The brain also needs regular exercise. One way to improve your quality of life is to keep your brain active through continuous learning. The day you stop learning is the day you get old, regardless of your biological age. Staying mentally active can reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Learning how to run a business and plan marketing campaigns will keep your brain active.
- Pursue a passion. At 50, you don’t stop dreaming. Find the niche that you are really passionate about. Research has shown that a purpose in life can lead to a longer life. If the main goal is not to make money, then keep busy with your interests and hobbies and focus on something that you enjoy. If you enjoy doing woodwork or needlework, consider selling your handmade items online (e.g. Etsy) or at local trade shows. If you have the time, there are few barriers to turning your hobby into a business.
- Supplement your pension or your income. You may be counting on lower income after you retire. A small business could offer assistance with keeping bills under control, paying off debts, or hiding out for a rainy day. You may want to reconsider your previous career. For example, I was a professor of writing in college. I am now using these skills to help people write their life stories.
- Stay social. Maintaining strong social bonds is essential for aging adults to develop a sense of intent and avoid feelings of loneliness or depression. Almost half of all older Americans say they feel lonely sometimes or always. Quitting a job can mean giving up most of your daily social interaction. When you start a business, you can replenish some of that interaction – with customers, suppliers, postmen, and other professionals. There are also many online small business communities where you can get advice and meet people with similar interests.
- Give something back to the community.
- Volunteers at a school: Public schools in particular are chronically underfunded and need volunteers for a variety of tasks: tutor, cross guard and mentor. There are always children and teachers who need help.
- Working in a hospital: Volunteers are thoroughly trained for their positions, and annual refresher courses are common, according to the American Hospital Association. Some typical volunteer roles include visiting patients, working in the gift shop, and helping with blood donation drives.
- Get involved in politics: Volunteer for a political crusade, a grassroots organization or a political action committee. You can also work for a candidate you support.
- Help with a hotline: In almost every city there are suicide hotlines that are manned by volunteers. Obviously, this is an important – even lifesaving – way to help. Hotlines are also available for people who just need to hear a different voice.
- Contact with animal shelters and humane societies: Local animal shelters and humane societies need volunteers to take care of animals, organize fundraising drives, carry out administrative tasks and help rescue pets after natural disasters such as floods and fires.
- Contact AARP: The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) has a volunteer page on their website.
Related: These strategies help entrepreneurs fight anxiety and depression
Business ideas to be considered
The best business ideas for retirement start with what you know. If the goal is not necessarily to make money, engage with your interests and hobbies, and choose something that you enjoy. If you’re looking for something new, here are some ideas.
- Services. Babysitting, pet care, tours, and interior decorating are activities that can keep you physically active and social while you focus on your community and choose your own hours.
- Handmade goods. What do you do in your free time? Things to make and sell could be soap, candles, jewelry, and ceramics.
- Courses. You have a wealth of life and work experiences! How can you monetize what you know? Teaching online courses may require more work up front, but it offers great margins and minimal requirements in the long run. You can also work from home.
Related: retirement? Here are 17 free ways to make money on the side.
Take control of your life
It just doesn’t make sense to throw away all of your knowledge and experience just because of a specific date on the calendar. As your life span increases, you can easily change your career by age 50 or 60, or embarking on an exciting business venture in the next 20 to 30 years. So why get stuck in a boring retirement when you can take control of your life and do something interesting, rewarding, and fulfilling while at the same time making your contribution to society?
Related: Retired Young Could Affect Brain Function: Study
To become an entrepreneur, you must first change your mindset. If you feel that you are too tuned to your way of doing things and you can’t possibly do something this daring at this point in your life, I’m here to tell you you can – if you want to.
Stop labeling yourself by your age or career path. By seeing yourself as a banker, accountant, or salesman, you are subconsciously telling yourself that it is you. This stops your ability to reinvent yourself.
If you need business education or guidance (and you almost certainly will if you’ve always worked for someone else), you can find the right courses and programs to give you the skills you need. Better yet, find a mentor, someone with business experience, to give you feedback on what you’re doing or about to do. The SCORE network offers free support.
Becoming an entrepreneur after retirement can be your best retirement plan as it puts you in control of your life and future.