Have you always dreamed of starting a new business but life got in the way? Are you wondering if you are now too old to start the business you’ve always dreamed about? If so, it might be time to stop dreaming and start considering how to make your dreams a reality. The good news is that “people over 55 are twice as likely to launch successful new companies like those in the 20-34 age group.” Jeff Haden reported on Inc.com that findings from a study involving 2.7 million new businesses indicate that a “sixty-year-old founder is three times as likely to establish a successful startup as a thirty-year-old founder.” Haden suggests that the experience older founders have gives them an edge when starting a new business.
Using Hobbies or Life Experience to Develop BusinessesSome older entrepreneurs turn their personal interests and hobbies into businesses. For example, as reported in an Arkenea blog, Angie Higa turned her love of sewing and design into a travel blanket and pillow business after she retired. Mommy Choi loved cooking and creating secret sauce recipes. At the age of 71, Choi started building a business by selling her secret sauce recipes. Some people may also have artistic hobbies that develop into small businesses. Other older entrepreneurs leverage their life experience into consulting or web-based businesses. Consultants with needed expertise can become invaluable resources for the right businesses and organizations. Web-based businesses could include services such as consulting, training and development, or product sales. While some businesses may not realize it, most could use some help with customer service when working with older adults—at least that is what some of my own research has revealed.
Dabbling at BusinessSome older adults like to dabble in a business venture for a little extra money like using a portion of their home as a bed and breakfast or renting out their entire home sort-term as an Airbnb. Animal lovers might offer mobile grooming or pet walking to pick up a little extra cash. For those who feel like they have something to teach others, offering an online course could provide a little extra cash. Be careful though, as some sites will significantly discount the profit you can make on any course you spend hours developing.
Tapping into The Boomer MarketOne of the fastest-growing demographics in the country is the group many refer to as “seniors.” The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2030, one in five people will be sixty-five or older. Joseph Coughlin, the author of The Longevity Economy, offers some surprising revelations about the needs and the collective household wealth of older adults. Coughlin points out that advertisers often ignore the real desires and needs of the people who have some money to spend. Instead, the advertising dollars that do target older adults tend to focus on stereotypical views of people who are older. Why not tap into a market that is currently underserved but generally may have more discretionary income than other age groups. Senior Fitness I have recently talked with a gym owner who is now focusing on the needs of older adults. I’ve also talked with a martial arts expert who plans to offer self-defense classes for older adults (more information coming later). Many older adults are interested in living their best lives, including staying healthy and fit. New Experiences Research suggests that many of us want new experiences – think social activities around wine tasting; the Triple Oak Wine Vault in Oakland, Oregon offers a variety of social learning opportunities including knitting nights where friends can gather, sip and buy top quality wine, and learn something new. Many of us are no longer in the workplace with built-in social connections, so we are often interested in ways to develop new connections such as through technology. Started by a millennial, Grandparents Academy provides free downloadable booklets and training on how to use different types of technology tools to stay connected with loved ones. Security In my generally 55+ neighborhood, many of us are concerned about security. When a salesperson came through our area and shared information about a security system for our homes, we were interested. I can monitor activity outside our home at all hours. We’ve had recent break-ins in our area, but those of us who have cameras and protection feel more secure. Boomers Aging in Place Many of us in my neighborhood are interested in maintaining our homes as we share the goal of aging in place. This means we might be interested in roofing, painting, new air conditioners, and other upkeep or maintenance services (including general repairs and yard work). After interviewing several of my neighbors, I found that the majority not only valued quality work at a fair price, but they also were interested in good customer service. A key to providing good service is to communicate in a timely way, be clear, and follow-up.
Counting the CostMost businesses of any kind will involve some start-up expenses and ongoing costs. Even if you do not plan to operate in a physical location, you’ll likely have costs that include business licenses, insurance, web site development and management, web hosting, marketing expenses (don’t underestimate these), associations and other memberships, and general equipment or other related expenses. Before starting any business venture, it is important to recognize real and potential business operating expenses—even for a small-scale business, it can be quite a shocker. One great resource for new businesses is the Small Business Development Center. One of the more comforting insights I’ve received from listening to experts on starting new businesses is to be patient. In can take a few years to start gaining traction if you start a new business from scratch. If you are in a position to enjoy the journey without having to make money right away, then happy trails to you!