Following our theme this week, I’m writing about my experience of becoming a boomer-entrepreneur (or as some people call it, a boomerpreneur).
According to an AARP report, three in ten entrepreneurs are at least 50 years old. The report went on to say that 78% of entrepreneurs 50 and older said that the main reason they’d suggest starting a business was the “satisfaction of working for themselves.”
Finding Purpose through Entrepreneurship
I’m one of those people who wanted to do something I thought would be satisfying and could eventually end up generating some supplemental income. Because I’m one of a shrinking number of people who was able to retire with a little pension, I don’t have the pressure of needing to make money right away. That’s probably a good thing because starting something from scratch can take a lot of time before any revenue is realized.
Three years ago, when I started researching retirement, I realized that it was a lot more involved today than it once was. Maybe there was a time when people could take a pension at retirement age and then quietly shuffle off into the sunset. But today, only about 23% of people have pensions, and most don’t end up silently fading away. Instead, we’re living 20, 30 or more years after we leave work. That’s a shift from how people used to experience retirement. I decided that there was a need to help people navigate life after leaving the workplace, and I wanted to be part of the solution.
Because I wanted to keep things simple and grow along with my business idea, I decided that an online business would be ideal. Besides, even though I taught public speaking for nearly 25 years, I tend to be an introvert. I thought hanging out with great people online would be ideal for my personality. In reality, I still need to be out and about promoting the work I do. I also need to keep giving presentations.
The summer before leaving my full-time position, I invested in training to become a certified retirement coach. I also met a few times with an advisor at a Small Business Development Center. Then I registered my business with the IRS. Almost immediately after I left my full-time position, I was working with a web designer to set up my new business site. (The WordPress site I had once built on my own was not going to cut it.) I also needed to invest in website security and a new hosting plan.
The old saying of “build it and they will come,” probably doesn’t apply to websites. (Don’t pay attention to articles that try to tell you online businesses are easy to develop.) I realized very quickly that I had to start investing in marketing to some degree. I joined the local Chamber of Commerce and invested in business cards. I keep telling myself that I’ll be able to ‘write off’ my expenses next year when tax time comes. But the reality is, you can only write off expenses if you make more than you spend. Even then, you can only write off 20% per year for five years.
After 4 ½ months into my new venture, I’ve spent more money and time than I could have imagined. I’m constantly facing new challenges as well. Some days I wonder what in the world I am doing. The upside is that I have flexibility as to when I work. It’s 11:01 p.m. right now.
I’m writing this post while my husband is reading. Even though I have certain things that I must stay on top of each week, I am in control of my schedule. I love that!
A Learning Dividend
Recently I discovered that my core idea needed to be tweaked a bit. My understanding of the need I’m trying to address is growing as I continue to learn. Even though I am not generating any revenue so far, I am learning a lot. Just as important, I can invest in my mission of helping others prepare for their best lives now and in the future by embracing a positive view of aging.
Fortunately for me, I’m doing what I love. I’d do it even if I knew I’d never make a cent. However, I realize I am in the rare position of not having to make money. That makes a big difference in terms of how I’m approaching things. If someone wanted to start a new venture and generate retirement income, I’d suggest either building the business before leaving a full-time position or perhaps investing in something that is already generating income.
In the meantime, I plan to keep learning and will continue sharing what I’m learning.