Starting a Business in Retirement: Retiree Business Ideas

Transform your golden years into a time of entrepreneurial discovery with our guide to starting a business in retirement — uncover the joys and challenges of launching a venture that brings passion, purpose, and profit into your life.

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People today are living longer, healthier lives and often retiring early. This is the ideal time to start your own business and pursue your dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Know that the highest success rates in entrepreneurship come from founders in middle age and beyond.

Starting a business after retirement is an excellent way to earn extra income, supplement your retirement savings, reduce your tax bill, improve your mental and physical health, and pursue your dream of becoming an entrepreneur while passing on your skills and knowledge to the next generation. 

Not everyone has the personality, work ethic, and drive to start a business successfully. But if you think you have what it takes, then retirement might be the perfect time to get the venture you’ve always dreamed of off the ground.

Keep reading to learn about the top reasons to start a business in retirement and get a list of our best business ideas for retirees – plus some cautionary tips.

Check out our tips on how those over 50 years old can start a business here.

Top Reasons to Start a Business After Retirement

Boost your income

Some retirees don’t have adequate savings, pension payments, or Social Security benefits for living expenses. They need to boost their income to make ends meet. Starting a small business can fulfill that need.

Americans 65 and older are more likely to be self-employed than adults of any other age group. This means that, as an older entrepreneur, you will be in good company.

Because of the limited (and generally low-paying)  jobs available for retirees, smart folks go ahead and blaze their own trail into entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Greater Financial Investment Return

When you invest a portion of your savings into starting a business, you have the possibility of receiving a greater return on your investment than traditional stocks or bonds.

Assuming an average 5% to 8% of return on your retirement savings, if you invest that same amount into starting a business, it could make 2X to 3X that amount in annual profit and tax savings. Plus, you are building a valuable income-producing asset.

Save your money

Starting your own income-producing company will save you money in two ways.

First, you will pay fewer taxes because you can deduct both startup costs and ongoing expenses (including housing, transportation, and utilities) from your tax bill. Read more in our article on how to save on taxes by starting a business.

Secondly, keeping busy making money will prevent you from over-shopping with all the extra time on your hands after you retire. Having fun and filling your time with online shopping, gambling, outings, and travel will quickly drain your nest egg.

Improve your health – mental and physical

The transition from working full-time to retirement can be challenging. Research has shown that retirement may increase the likelihood of suffering from clinical depression.

By keeping your mind active and building your company, your mental health will improve and you will have a more positive outlook. Also learning new things and meeting different people will spark your interest in life. Your brain will stay sharp as it expands its knowledge of business techniques and strategies.

Also by starting a business, you likely will be more physically active, which will help your overall health and can also reduce your healthcare costs.

Check out our in-depth post on how to protect your business idea from getting stolen — without a patent.

Grow your social life

Your new business will also serve as an important new social outlet.

Most seniors who retire and then decide to go back to a job do so mainly because they miss their colleagues and daily social interactions. By launching your new business, you will meet and interact with many new and interesting people, zapping the lonely and sometimes isolating feelings associated with retirement.

DO’s and DON’Ts for Older Entrepreneurs

Before you go forth and launch your new company, heed this advice (especially if you’re starting a business after retirement):

  1. DO NOT use all of your retirement savings for startup costs. No matter how sure a bet you think your new business idea is, DO NOT use a large portion (or all) of your retirement funds. Many new businesses fail for reasons outside of the business owners’ control. So only use a small portion of your retirement income, and be prepared to lose it all. You may not lose it, but you need to be financially secure if you do lose it.
  2. DO NOT Take out a 401K Loan – Do not borrow against your 401K because there are better ways to access your retirement funds for a business startup, such as a 401K ROBS rollover. This is a process where you create a company that funds your new startup and you do not have to pay back the 401K loan. Monthly loan payments can cripple a new startup’s cash flow and growth potential.
  3. DO NOT Get a business loan – It’s best to not start your business with borrowed funds. A better strategy is to start small with your own fiscal resources and build your company slowly by reinvesting its profits.
  4. DO consider a business partner – Consider joining with another entrepreneur to build your company together. Many younger business people will appreciate your knowledge and experience as a business partner. Learn how to find a good business partner in our article here
  5. DO plan schedule flexibility – Because you are older, it’s vital to plan your schedule to allow for your current physical capabilities. Plan your schedule with the flexibility to make the most of your time and energy. Consider the physical aspects of your chosen endeavor. Make allowances for some days when you will not feel physically energetic.
  6. DO learn new technology – Business technology is rapidly changing. It’s important for you to keep up with advances and learn how to use tech to help your company succeed. Take time to learn about computer usage, the internet, and software. Attend classes at your local colleges or libraries, or take courses online.
  7. DO invest in comfortable workspaces – Invest in ergonomic workspace equipment such as large monitors, armrests, and supportive desk chairs to stay healthy and avoid repetitive stress injuries.
  8. DO ask for help – Especially if you’re a first-time entrepreneur, take advantage of the many free and low-cost entrepreneur assistance programs offered by government agencies such as the Small Business Administration (SBA). Learn more about these entrepreneur assistance programs in our article here.
  9. DO connect with other entrepreneurs – Use the buddy system either locally or online with other small business owners. Join your local chamber, get involved in your industry trade association, attend meetups in your field, and join dedicated forums or Facebook groups. Together, you can support and help each other succeed.
  10. DO get a business mentor – Reverse the traditional mentor relationship and find a younger person to be your mentor. While you have life and business experience, they can help you navigate today’s complex business landscape. It could be mutually beneficial because they gain your wisdom and sage advice.

Top 10 Business Ideas to Start in Retirement

Here are some of our best business ideas for retiree entrepreneurs. Most require no employees and have low startup costs.

  1. Consulting – Use your hard-won knowledge and industry experience to help other companies succeed. Check out how consulting companies work.
  2. Online – Launching an online business from home is ideal for older entrepreneurs since it eliminates the need for commuting and opens up the world as your customers. From freelance writing to affiliate marketing, you can make good money online. Here are our online business ideas suggestions.
  3. Tutoring – If you know how to play an instrument, are good at math, or speak a foreign language, consider becoming a tutor in your area or online.
  4. Senior Services – There is a growing demand for services to help the elderly, from transportation to financial advice to errands. As an older person, you can be uniquely helpful. Learn about business opportunities in the senior market.
  5. Food Products – Market your winning recipe and sell it at your local market or online. Baking goods are especially profitable (check out our list of catchy bakery name ideas here). Or you could teach cooking classes or write a food blog.  
  6. Beauty – If you’re talented in nail art, hairstyling, or facials, you could profit from opening your own salon at home.  Get inspiration for your salon name ideas. Or you could profit from one of these top beauty business ideas.
  7. Reseller – This is where you buy items at wholesale and sell them at retail for a profit. Here are 21 best reseller business ideas for beginner entrepreneurs.
  8. Creative – If you have an artistic talent such as being an artist, crafter, or photographer, these are great skills to build a business upon. Get a list of our best art business ideas, and also check out our profitable photography business ideas to start today.
  9. Agricultural – If you have a green thumb, you could start farming, keeping bees, or growing mushrooms commercially to make money. Learn more agricultural business ideas.
  10. Rental – There are many rental businesses that you can make good profits from, including room rentals, storage, wedding equipment, and costumes. Learn more here on our list of rental business ideas

Considering starting your business in Delaware to save taxes? Read about the benefits and risks of starting a business in Delaware in our article.

Read our article about how long it typically takes from startup idea to launch by industry.

Other Business Ideas for Retirees

Taxes and Bookkeeping

Many entrepreneurs need a little help managing the books. If your day job involved accounting or tax prep, then you might want to consider providing financial consulting services in retirement. Not only can you start this small business with little to no capital, but you can perform your services from home or anywhere else with a Wi-Fi connection.

Writing and Editing

If you have good communications skills, you may be able to make extra cash helping businesses — especially small businesses — with their communications needs.  Businesses may need copy for the company website or blog, publicity releases, sales materials, or manuals written or proofread.  Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Fiverr can help you find assignments.

Online Courses

If you have a skill that other people would pay to learn and you’re good at explaining things, you could tap into that market by turning what you know into one or more courses to teach online. You can sell your courses through online marketplaces such as Udemy, your own website, or other platforms for course delivery. Once the courses are created, your primary time investment will be marketing them to attract a steady stream of new customers.

Pet Care

Many seniors already provide childcare for family and neighbors. However, it might not occur to them to offer these services for animals in need. With the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters estimating that Americans spend $47 billion a year on their fluffy, feathered, or finned friends, the opportunities for earning money in this field are virtually endless. You could sit for pets when their owners are out of town, start a dog walking business, or even offer grooming or dog training services. Many people will pay a premium for the knowledge that their pets are safe and loved when they can’t be there to offer care.

Franchises

Did a new Dunkin Donuts or McDonald’s recently open up in your neighborhood? Many of these popular shops are actually owned by franchisees, or individuals granted licenses to do business under the trademark of a larger company. If you are a relatively young “senior” and have some money to invest, you may want to consider buying a franchise rather than launching a business from scratch. Better franchises provide training and name recognition that you won’t have if you start your own business. As a result, some franchisees have higher success rates than independent startups like retail stores and restaurants. For best results, choose to start a franchise in an industry with which you’re comfortable and research your franchise choice very carefully before signing a contract.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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