You’re retired. You’re no longer on the clock. You get to sleep in, spend time savoring your food and do just about anything you want to do any time you want to do it.
Ah, time. You suddenly have loads of it. You probably have something similar to a laundry list of things to do in retirement. Those items will fill up that time.
For a while.
It’s not unusual to quickly cross off everything on your retirement “to-do” list. Then what? How will you fill your time?
You’ll want something exciting. You’ll want something engaging. You’ll want something fun.
If you’re like one in ten people over the age of 50, you’ll want to start your own business. Why not? Find something you enjoy and know a little about, then take a leisurely stroll down the avenue of entrepreneurs.
But, even if you’ve already started a business, the world has changed, and you’ll no doubt have questions. Where do you go to get the answers?
A lot depends on the type of side hustle you want to engage in. Of course, maybe the first person to “talk” to is yourself. After all, you know best what you know and like.
“Most successful entrepreneurs develop their business around something they have a strong passion for or a level of expertise, so the first place one should look is within,” says Gerald Grant III, Financial Advisor at Equitable Advisors in Miami. “This will allow you to turn your hobbies or skillsets into an additional stream of income. For example, photography, cooking, consulting, etc. Once you’ve identified a service you can provide, then you should search your surrounding market to see if there is a need or customer base for your services.”
Beyond yourself or specific companies, you can search community calendars to see when relevant events are scheduled to occur in your area.
“There are many job fairs and workshops, franchise conferences, etc., available to make finding that supplemental activity easy,” says Lamar Brabham, CEO and Founder of Noel Taylor Agency in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
If you live in an area that doesn’t draw these types of events, you still have other local resources.
“Another good way to find out about opportunities is to ask what other peers or former co-workers are doing post-retirement,” says Grant. “Due to many of them having similar skillsets or interests as you, sometimes their post-work endeavors may align with your desires or help point you in the right direction.”
It’s important to do your research and carefully think out what you imagine your side hustle to be. You’ll want to avoid common mistakes all entrepreneurs make, especially those mistakes most critical to entrepreneurs over 50.
“Retirees can improve their chances of starting their own businesses in a number of ways,” says Levon L. Galstyan, Certified Public Accountant at Oak View Law Group in Glendale, California. “When it comes to protecting retirees’ nest eggs while starting a business, a little caution goes a long way. Older workers have a wealth of experience and networks but don’t know how to work for themselves. The good news is that several national organizations provide free advice before, during, and after the startup of a new business. Encore.org (now CoGenerate) assists entrepreneurs who are focused on those who want to give back to their community.”
Several larger national organizations exist that specifically assist seniors who wish to start their own businesses in retirement. “AARP and the US Chamber of Commerce both have great resources for retirees to find out more information about entrepreneurial opportunities,” says Amy Greene LoCascio, Principal and Managing Partner at Eamon Capital Management in Pittsburgh.
AARP has an entire series of stories on its website to take you through the various aspects of starting your own business. The US Chamber of Commerce does offer some online content regarding entrepreneurship, but it’s more generic.
“One of the best places that those over 50 can go to as an entrepreneurial resource is their local SCORE chapter,” says Charles Catania, Principal of Branding with Chuck in Vernon, Connecticut. “I’ve found that these chapters, which provide business advice at no cost through the SBA, have volunteers who are particularly skilled with helping retirees launch new endeavors.”
One of the advantages of SCORE is its small business start-up mentors are generally retirees, so you’ll be talking peer-to-peer in a sense.
Finally, if you work odd hours when it’s hard to connect with other people and organizations, there’s always that old standby—the internet.
“A few of the best places that someone aged 50 and above could go to learn about entrepreneurial opportunities are various blogs, YouTube, or even Google Search,” says Shawn Manaher, a former financial advisor who has founded 5 online businesses and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author based in New York City. “If you have a passion for something, most likely you can find a way to make money off of it. Start searching online for the many ways you can start generating income. I always recommend starting a blog or a YouTube channel about your passions because it can allow you to earn extra money from ad revenue and promote related affiliate programs.”
These are just a few of the many free resources. There are other resources, such as classes, workshops and professional mentors, that you can pay for, and you may prefer that kind of close counseling. But try the free opportunities first. At least that will allow you to narrow your focus on the questions you do ask any paid professional you engage with.