Business Ideas for Retirees Tips

Looking for a new challenge now that you’ve retired from the corporate world? Why not start your own business?

Many retirees who’ve been employees all of their lives get excited at the thought of running the show, and building a business that reflects their interests and values. If you’re thinking of launching a business during your retirement, here are six ideas to get you started.

Online businesses
Many new business ideas well-suited for retirees harness the power of the internet, as long as you don’t let technology intimidate you.

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“Online businesses are truly some of the best types of businesses for people over 50, but they need to get over their fears,” said Diane Eschenbach, owner of startup consultancy firm DE Consultants and author of “How to Quickly Start a Business Online.”

One simple new business option involves researching and compiling information on websites.

“One of my favorite types of online businesses for the ‘post-50 group’ is curation sites,” said Eschenbach.

As people get older, the time invested in activities (such as a new business venture) becomes very important, said Eschenbach. She is a big fan of the idea of retirees learning to use technology because of the time saved by automated programs, but she stresses the importance of choosing a business you enjoy.

“The key to a great retirement is doing what you love and finding a way to monetize it quickly,” said Eschenbach. [See Related Story: New Business Idea? How to Test Before Launching ]

Consulting and coaching
Retirees considering starting businesses should start by thinking about two areas: skills from their previous jobs and life lessons. These experiences make retirees well-positioned to share their knowledge.

“Since they have a lot of life and career experience, a consulting and coaching business suits them well as a new endeavor,” said Dolly Garlo, business coach and president of Thrive!! Inc. By capitalizing on existing knowledge, retirees can spend their time learning the ropes of running a new business.

“Retirees should focus on jobs and business opportunities that leverage the individual’s years of work and life experience, such as consulting, teaching or tutoring,” said Jamie Hopkins, Esq., assistant professor of taxation in the Retirement Income Program at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and associate director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income.

Instead of sharing knowledge through a face-to-face business, retirees may prefer to teach or coach through a freelance writing business. “Writing and blogging can be a way for the retiree to stay engaged in an online or other community, generate some income and leverage their knowledge,” said Hopkins.

As you brainstorm new business ideas, Garlo suggests asking a few key questions. “How much time do you want to spend working? What kind of flexibility do you require? Do you want to work from a fixed location or be able to work virtually? What subject matter in particular excites you?”

Garlo says it’s also important to consider your potential business customers, and if they can afford to pay you. “This will determine whether what you provide becomes a hobby or charitable endeavor, or is an actual business,” she said.

Start a “mastermind group”
Have you left a successful career after establishing a large network of valuable and experienced business contacts? If so, the main ingredients of your new business idea may be as close as your address book.

“[Retirees] have learned lessons that many business owners won’t learn for another 10 to 20 years,” said Tobe Brockner, author of “Mastermind Group Blueprint: How to Start, Run and Profit from Mastermind Groups” (Aloha Group Publishing, 2013). “This is why starting a mastermind group is a natural fit for retirees.”

Members of mastermind groups meet regularly to collaborate and solve the problems or issues of their members, tapping into the collected experience, skills and knowledge of the group.

“Many [retirees] already have a network that they can tap into to find excellent mastermind group members, and by being the group organizer and facilitator, they can make a nice supplemental income,” said Brockner.

Depending on the size of the area in which they live, Brockner said enterprising retirees can start and facilitate multiple mastermind groups, and charge a premium for the value of being a member.

“Mastermind group facilitators can generate between $1,500 to $3,000 per month per group for just a few hours [of] work,” he said.

Service-based businesses
Providing services has long been a popular idea for younger, active retirees who want to start their own businesses; however, familiar choices like handyman services, tutoring or pet sitting aren’t the only games in town.

“There are many options for service-based businesses, but one area particularly well-suited for retirees is to provide eldercare services,” said Nancy Collamer, career coach and author of “Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement” (Ten Speed Press, 2013).

“Many elderly living on their own need someone to help out with the tasks of daily living: housekeeping, shopping, errands and cooking,” said Collamer. “They also hire people to help out with special projects such as relocating, medical claims assistance and bill paying.”

Entrepreneurial support services
As the total number of entrepreneurs increases, so does the number of entrepreneurs over the age of 50. Why not start a business catering to them? There is a tremendous opportunity for you to assist new entrepreneurs with building, managing and marketing their businesses, said Collamer. While older entrepreneurs have solid core skills from previous professions, they often fall short on the skills needed to capitalize on their expertise and turn their knowledge and talents into a profitable business.

“So think about how you can apply your skills in a small business environment,” suggested Collamer. “Are you a talented graphic designer? You might be able to design logos, brochures or menus for a new restaurant in town. Do you have strong financial skills? Perhaps you could work as a small business coach or a bookkeeper.”

Few business people have the time and know-how needed to handle all the tasks required to keep a business profitable, Collamer said. And filling this need suits aspiring business owners who are also retirees.

“Most small business people can’t afford full-time staff, so this can be a nice way to earn income on a flexible or part-time basis.”

Active living
There are many ways to take advantage of the spreading “active living” philosophy, which is especially popular among Boomers. Who better to help show them the way than a peer with the know-how to stay fit and age gracefully? One of the greatest things about starting a business focused on active living is how creative you can be about what exactly your business looks like.

“The spectrum of involvement is pretty wide,” Jonah Bliss, director of community for electric bicycle company EVELO, said. “[It could be] anything from opening up franchises for electric bike stores to being ambassadors for healthy living brands, or running tours and treks to outdoor locations.”

These types of businesses not only work well as a way to bring in some money after you retire from your career, but they also help others maintain their health as they age. Be creative and use what you know to find your niche in the growing active living marketplace.

The advantages of your employee

Securing Your Business: Employees, Customers and Assets Credit: hywards/Shutterstock
Any type of revenue loss or reputational damage is worth preventing. Protecting your business against such losses means securing your employees, customers, building, equipment, and revenue-related assets.

When people think of security breaches and theft, they often imagine complex technology theft or armed robbery. But although businesses should employ the proper measures to prevent major security incidents, the reality is that those types of instances are rare. Often, revenue slips out the door simply because of poor record keeping, employee theft or lax security protocols, rather than from outside nefarious forces. Security cameras and other technologies can also help protect your company from harassment or performance issues.

While some security measures require an investment or ongoing fees, some are free and can be implemented as best practices. If you haven’t yet put much thought or investment into your business’s security, now might be the time to do so. It might even cost less than you think. Here are a few ideas and best practices to help you secure your business.

Security cameras and monitoring
Other security technologies
Credit card and fraud protection
Smart business security practices
Security cameras and monitoring
The first and most obvious security investment to make for your business is to install surveillance cameras. These cameras are becoming more affordable and often can be packaged with alarm monitoring services.

You’ll want to place cameras in strategic areas, such as at entrances, over cash registers, in serving/sales areas and near expensive inventory. Your employees should know that you periodically view the recorded video. This will help prevent inventory shrinkage and discourage patrons from stealing. It also can be used to identify (and, in turn reward) high-performing employees. Some security technologies can integrate your point-of-sale (POS) system with your security cameras, such as Remote Eyes, Axis Communications, Genetec, Axxon, Cisco and 3VR.

Experts recommend finding a local vendor that can provide security consulting as well as maintenance support. These companies should also be able to provide integrated technologies, such as those that detect smoke, gas, motion and broken windows; as well as fob or card entry options. Security monitoring services communicate with your local law enforcement, usually for a small fee per year, and provide cellular systems with battery backups in case of power outages.

You can find our complete coverage of surveillance systems here.

Other security technologies
Sales Tracking
Accurate sales-tracking technologies can reduce losses caused by incorrect pricing, tax calculations, voids, duplicate orders, false sale records and more. If you have employees, these systems can help you track potential problems, such as routine voided or incorrect sales tickets. If you own a restaurant or retail store, a capable POS system can track this information for you. If you sell services, your payment processor often will provide features to help you track sales.

Inventory Tracking
Although inventory tracking is the most relevant to businesses that sell physical products, companies that sell services can also benefit from these tracking systems. For example, inventory systems can help restaurants track food inventory, vendors, waste loss and spoilage, and retail versions of these systems can track items, stock keeping units and bar codes, item descriptions, vendor information and more. Usually, businesses can enable these types of capabilities by using a POS system with upgraded inventory-tracking tools. Service businesses can use a credit card processor to track the types of services sold as well as billable hours. You can also employ technologies to track equipment and depreciated properties. Having accurate inventory information can help you quickly pinpoint areas of loss.

Employee Scheduling and Time Clocks
If you have employees, keeping accurate records can greatly improve your payroll accuracy and reduce the risk of overpayment. Some time clocks even utilize biometric technologies, such as fingerprint readers or eye scanners, that prevent employees from clocking in for one another. Many of these systems let you view employees’ schedules online and send shift-change information directly to employees’ mobile phones to help ensure that they show up for the right shifts. You can add scheduling and time clocks to many POS systems or purchase the services separately. Popular vendors include Revel Systems, NCR, Lavu, Lightspeed, ShiftPlanning, NimbleSchedule and Humanity.

You can find our complete coverage of employee scheduling software here.

Credit card and fraud protection
If you process card payments, you’ll need to carefully protect your customers’ payment information. With the recent liability shift, you — rather than the card company — can be held responsible for fraudulent charges if you are not compliant with the latest card processing technology.

The best strategy is to use a payment processor that provides the right level of security for your business. But there are also a few things you can do to add an extra layer of security:

Do not store credit card information yourself.
Upgrade to EMV chip-and-PIN card readers.
Provide table-side or customer-present processing.
Limit who is allowed to process payments using your service.
Maintain excellent sales records.
Use complex passwords, and change them often.
Secure the devices supporting your payment processing and CRM (customer relationship management) software using firewalls, passwords and anti-malware software.
Lock down Wi-Fi access, and use a powerful firewall.
Consult with a specialist about how you can become and stay PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant.
Consider accepting other types of payments, such as mobile or PayPal payments.
To learn more about payment processors — including compliance issues, mobile wallet options and pricing — see the payment processing reviews on our sister site Top Ten Reviews.

Smart business security practices
Based on our research and expert interviews, here are a few simple low-cost or free ways to help you protect your business:

Quickly change alarm and login passwords when an employee leaves the company.
Require employees to update passwords regularly or employ a password keeper.
Thoroughly check employment references and conduct background checks.
Keep parking lots and building exits well lit.
Keep door entrances clear of foliage, signs or other objects that block visibility.
Invest in security cameras that can record in the dark.
If you deal with cash and physical checks, vary bank drop-off times or use an armored transport service.
Create an emergency preparedness plan, including an evacuation plan.
Track all company-owned equipment, including serial numbers, and store information off-site.
Conduct building walk-throughs before closing for the day.
Professionally wipe all hard drives before selling or destroying devices, including printers and mobile devices.
Keep your staff satisfied in order to boost morale and reduce the likelihood that disgruntled employees will commit theft.

Educating Employees Tips

Saving for retirement is an important consideration for workers of any age. But your employees may not be taking the proper steps to secure their future — because they don’t know any better.

A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. employees by Ramsey Solutions, which provides personal finance education, found that 40 percent of workers, including 70 percent with zero retirement savings, have no access to any type of employer-sponsored information about retirement or finances.

While some American workers do learn about retirement from their employers, many turn to their parents (35 percent) or family and friends (32 percent) for advice, found the survey. However, these sources may not give a complete picture of what your employees need to know.

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“People often go to their parents, family and friends because they’re a trusted source,” Chris Hogan, a motivational speaker and financial coach for Ramsey Solutions, said in a statement. “Your friends and family may know what has or hasn’t worked for them, but they may not know all of your options when it comes to saving for retirement.”

This educational gap could account for the fact that American workers, particularly younger ones, aren’t saving nearly enough for their retirement. A 2014 report by HR management firm ADP, which aggregated anonymous data from 9 million U.S. employees using ADP services, revealed that less than half of workers ages 20 to 29 are currently saving for retirement, and those who are saving contribute less than 5 percent of their salaries to their retirement accounts on average. [See Related Story: [Should Your Small Business Offer a 401(k) Plan?]

Small businesses have even fewer retirement savings plan participants. ADP found that only 32.5 percent of workers at companies with fewer than 20 employees and 48.6 percent at companies of 20 to 49 employees are saving. Firms with 500 or more employees have a participation rate of more than 63 percent, likely due to the “auto-enroll” option many large employers provide. However, ADP found that overall savings rates are lower among these employees.

“The data suggests that particular attention needs to be paid to better engaging younger generations in the retirement savings process early in their careers, to help them achieve their retirement goals,” said Chris Augelli, a vice president and sales consultant at T. Rowe Price, and former VP of product marketing and business development at ADP Retirement Services.

What employers can do to help
The ADP report indicates that the key to higher participation and savings rates for retirement plans is effective communication and education. Employers of all sizes should be speaking with their staff about retirement savings options and encourage them to save as much as they can, and as early in their careers as possible, said Augelli.

Hogan agreed that offering comprehensive retirement education to your staff, as well as financial wellness programs that deal with concerns like budgeting and debt. The Ramsey Solutions research found that 90 percent of Millennials and Gen Xers, and 80 percent of baby boomers would be comfortable talking with their employers about retirement, so there’s a good chance your employees are open to receiving help with their personal finances.

“In the long run, you’ll have better participation rates and increased savings in your employees’ retirement plans,” he said. “Not only that, your employees will have a much brighter retirement future, potentially reducing money-related stress in the workplace. That’s better for everyone involved.”