Retirement used to be about a time when we look forward to enjoying a more relaxed lifestyle after decades of slogging away in the workforce. It was envisioned by many retirees as a time to enjoy a life of independence, to spend more time with family and friends, travelling and engaging in activities that gave them enjoyment and satisfaction.
Alas, this is a time of great malaise and financial instability in most world economies. That vulnerability has had a negative impact on retirement savings of those looking forward to enjoying their golden years. Many retirees, to their dismay, have to come to terms with the fact that their retirement dreams either have to be set aside or abandoned. These retirees are mostly baby boomers. They either have to remain in the work place longer than planned or be creative in generating additional income to replenish their retirement savings, often depleted by poor investment advice. They have become “The Old and The Restless” ….. restless to strike out on their own and become entrepreneurs and address anxieties that they might outlive their pension. This scenario appears to be the catalyst that is giving birth to the surge of ‘entrepreneurial seniors’.
The entrepreneurial surge is a remarkable development occurring in the baby boomer generation. This rapidly expanding demographic is frequently described as being more healthy and wealthy, and much better educated than the previous generation of seniors. Sadly, not all baby boomers have accumulated considerable wealth and many are burdened by debt. A significant number carry heavy debt loads such as mortgages and other debts into their retirement years. Some also have to support unemployed offspring in the ongoing recession. This situation has led to the growth in ‘seniors entrepreneurship’.
Becoming an entrepreneur is an attractive option to supplement inadequate pension savings and also to satisfy a desire to becoming an independent business person. Some seniors tend to be drawn more towards service-oriented projects such as care-giving, home-help services, or beautician services that don’t require a huge financial investment to get started. Other retirees establish a start-up business that requires more capital investment for selling a high-end product or service. It is important to ensure the business venture is viable and is not in a ‘dying industry’ or the business will have a short life cycle. The digital age, with computers and information technology, has created numerous business opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. To their credit, a significant number of boomers are well-versed in the technology and can take advantage of the opportunities it spawns.
Establishing a business is a major undertaking at any stage of life from both a financial and personal perspective. There are daunting’ challenges’ but also great ‘rewards’. In setting up a business most entrepreneurs have to make ‘sacrifices’, especially in the initial phase. Budding entrepreneurs should take note that many start-ups fail within the first two years of a business. Some entrepreneurs have great enthusiasm but lack business acumen. It is essential to be disciplined and make sacrifices by working harder than you ever have to achieve success.
Aspiring entrepreneurs must become well-versed in accounting, income tax laws, various government regulations for small business, and very important, satisfying and maintaining your customer base. Other challenges include developing a good business plan, solidifying access to additional capital, improving financial literacy to make sense of financial statements, dealing with suppliers, maintaining relationships with other entrepreneurs, hiring good staff and, also crucial, finding and keeping customers to ensure the long-term success of the business.
Apart from financial considerations, there are other reasons why seniors choose to become entrepreneurs … they can finally make their own business decisions! The idea of entrepreneurship takes shape in their mind and the desire to set up a business becomes an attractive option to ensure a stable source of income and create a needed product or service. Whatever the reasons behind the decision to become entrepreneurs, it seems that the fragile economy and ‘longevity’ of seniors have become a driving force fuelling this remarkable development. They are following their ‘passion’ but in order to be successful that passion must be tempered by focussing on the bottom line.
Clearly, establishing your own business can have multiple rewards. Setting up a business is not only about money which is the primary goal. In fact, successful entrepreneurs get personal satisfaction by fulfilling the needs of other people through the services and products they offer. One of the best rewards aside from the success of the business is the ‘feeling of pride’ that the new entrepreneur enjoys with all that they have achieved. So to those who are “The Old and Restless” and considering entrepreneurship the message is …. it is never too late to re-invent yourself in order to make a contribution to your community and fulfill dreams of running your own business.
Below are helpful links on setting up a business:
Starting Your Business
Starting a Business in Canada – Make sure you are ready for entrepreneurship
Guide for Canadian Small Business – Guide for Starting a Business
Understanding financial statements