I invited Jim McKinley, a retired banker with almost 30 years of experience, to share his tips for retirees on starting a business.— Dr. Cedric Habiyaremye
You’ve worked for decades, been a dedicated and successful earner for your loved ones and a faithful employee to your superiors. You expected to enjoy yourself once you retired and may even have had plans for traveling, moving to the beach, or just sitting back and watching while your kids succeed and your grandchildren grow. This describes many older Americans today, seniors who have found that their retirement fund is needed for more than just fun and travel. Even Social Security seems tenuous, and vulnerable to the vagaries of politics.
Consequently, the workplace is full of elderly Americans who couldn’t make a go of retirement. You see them in Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, groceries and retail stores. But what if you’re a retiree with no intention of taking a job that an 18-year-old would normally occupy? Why not use all that experience and those skills to start your own business? It may not be retirement, but it puts you in charge of your own fate. Here are some tips.
If you enjoy sharing what you’ve learned with others, there’s an opportunity to make an income as a trainer. Many companies, especially those in the manufacturing and industrial sector, face a severe knowledge gap as experienced technicians and other skilled workers retire without enough skilled workers available to replace them. The knowledge you’ve amassed over the years is worth its weight in gold to employers, who stand to benefit materially from your expertise and what you have to pass along to the next generation of workers. You don’t need advanced computer skills, just enough knowledge to put together PowerPoint presentations and the ability to embed video and images in your presentation. Training may be one of the most lucrative business opportunities for retirees in the coming years. If you’re unable to work onsite, thanks to the Internet you can offer training online or conduct interactive Webinar sessions.
You can also use your knowledge to help children learn. Tutoring can be a rewarding experience and there are many freelance opportunities or to work through an organization that appoints tutors to children on an as-needed basis. There’s a great deal of flexibility in tutoring; you could focus on one academic discipline or provide general tutoring on a number of subjects. You can tutor in any number of settings including the student’s home, your home or at a more formal location.
Lots of dog lovers prefer to leave their pets with someone during the day when they’re at work rather than keep them at home alone. Start a dog-sitting or dog-walking service out of your home. It’s a fun way to make money doing something you enjoy. The demand for reliable dog walkers and sitters is high and it continues to grow. You can advertise through social media or place notices at local animal shelters or veterinary offices to get the ball rolling.
Companies are often looking for experienced people to field customer service inquiries in call centers. If you’re unable to work at an on-site location, many companies offer at-home opportunities, as long as you have a computer and a reliable Internet connection. It’s not limited to American companies as organizations throughout the world need call center help, and in some cases, you can even set your own work hours.
Going back to school
If you’re considering starting your own business, it may be worthwhile enhancing your business skills and knowledge. By earning an accounting degree online, you can learn about marketing, management, economics, and logistics and operations. Online programs allow you to work at your own pace, so you can continue operating your business while you learn.
Starting a business after retirement doesn’t have to come with unacceptable financial risk. The Internet and advances in communications technology have made it possible to start a business that allows you to take advantage of your experience and work where and when you want.
Jim McKinley is a retired banker with almost 30 years of experience. He created Money with Jim to share his advice and other resources on a variety of financial topics.