Because a significant portion of my clients are thriving retirees or persons approaching retirement, I have the privilege of a front-row seat for observing changing trends in how people choose to spend their post-retirement years. One of the most striking things I’ve noticed in recent years is the number of folks who retire from one career only to launch a new business.
I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised. According to a recent survey of small business owners conducted by Guidant Financial, an overwhelming percentage of new and ongoing businesses are owned by people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. In fact, more than half of small business owners in the US are 50+. Seventeen percent are 60–69, and 4% are 70+.
The New Face of Entrepreneurship
You might think that these “graying entrepreneurs” were forced into startup mode because of job losses in the Great Recession or some similar reason. But on the contrary, a mere 15% of older business owners report starting their businesses because of being laid off. Instead, the majority of older and retired entrepreneurs are starting and running their own businesses because they love it. In fact, 76% report that on a “happiness scale” of 1–10 (with 10 as the best rating), they rate themselves at 8 or above.
Perhaps not surprisingly for a generation that, by and large, spent their careers in a corporate setting, over 70% of older business owners say their businesses employ 5 or fewer people; nearly a third are “solopreneurs.” The vast majority (86%) launched or purchased independent businesses (in other words, only 14% went the franchise route).
So how did these enterprising seniors launch their businesses? Most said they used cash, and many report utilizing a rollover for business startups (ROBS) arrangement to tap their 401(k)s for startup funds. This can pose a risk to core retirement funds, but for retirees who still have the entrepreneurial urge and who carefully weigh the risks and the requirements, these plans can make sense.
Before Starting a Business, Ask Yourself These Questions
The most important things to keep in mind if you’re considering taking the post-retirement entrepreneurial leap are pretty much the same cautions any prospective startup should consider:
- Does the business meet a legitimate marketplace need? Your homemade cookies may have won every award at the county fair for the last ten years, but is your baking operation scalable? Do enough consumers want your cookies (or can enough be made to want them) to present a viable customer and revenue base?
- Is the necessary financing within your means, and how will meeting that need impact your desired lifestyle? If your idea doesn’t work out, will you still be able to live comfortably with the resources you’ll have left?
- Can you afford the time commitment? If the idea of working 60 or more hours a week to get your business off the ground doesn’t fit with your post-retirement plans, maybe you should consider a different route.
With life expectancies stretching longer and longer, post-retirement careers may become more and more common. But it’s important to understand the risks that go along with the rewards. A professional, certified financial adviser can help you look down the road and anticipate some of the curves and bumps you might face. If I can help you with mapping out your post-retirement career path, please get in touch.
Stay Diversified, Stay YOUR Course!