Your Money Financially Speaking
Make money at home after you retire, by working part time
Start Your Own Business By Jane Bryant Quinn
A “3G” retirement—golf, gossip and grandchil- dren—isn’t for everyone. Restless minds look for
more ways to engage the world.
One outlet is volunteerism. But
if you also need extra income,
you may think about starting
your own business.
“Entrepreneurship isn’t just
for brilliant kids eating pizza
at 2 a.m.,” says Helen Dennis, a
specialist in aging and employment. “There’s just as much energy and creativity in midlife.”
A 2009 “recareering” study
done for AARP by the Urban
Institute reported that of people who changed their jobs and
changed occupations, about 31
percent said they went from
working for others to working
But working at what?
When you’re free to do whatever you want, what do you really want to do? Probably some
version of what you did before.
And the sooner you get to it, the better.
“A high percentage of retirement businesses
take advantage of the knowledge and contacts
retirees already have,” says Dennis Sargent, co-
author, with his wife, Martha, of Retire—and
Start Your Own Business. Martha says that in
high tech especially, “contacts are good for
about 18 to 24 months.”
A smaller percentage of retirees are able to
turn their hobby into a business. But the odds
are against you if you pursue an entirely new
line of work. You might find that it doesn’t inter-
est you enough, or that its demands aren’t a good
fit. Not everyone is cut out to sell real estate on
weekends or manage the local cofee shop.
Consulting, starting an errand-running service
for seniors, writing family biographies, reviewing
building plans for clients, planning parties, acting
as a personal secretary for small businesses that
don’t have assistants, setting up a computer help
service—these are a few of the businesses you
You’ll need to
do some research.
Who are your customers? How will
you find them?
can start for less than $5,000.
Most retirees want a low-cost, home-based business
they can run part time so they
can still enjoy their leisure and
work with less stress. Finding
the right idea, however, takes
time. The Sargents suggest you start by writing
down lots of ideas, no matter how far-out. Test
them against your interests and abilities, then
winnow them down. Check aarp.org/work.
You’ll need to do some research to develop a
business plan. Who are your customers, how
will you find them, what should you charge, how
much money will you have to invest, and when
might you start to make a profit?
If possible, go to a local community college or
the business school at a university and take a
course on how to start and run a small business.
You’ll most likely cover a number of subjects
that may be unfamiliar, from legal requirements
to sales taxes and bookkeeping. And having
others in the class to talk to and brainstorm
with can be useful.
Jane Bryant Quinn is a personal finance expert
and author of Making the Most of Your Money
NOW. She writes regularly for the Bulletin.