Are you over 50 years old and thinking about your retirement plans? Here’s a plan that might appeal to you: Don’t. At least not for a while.
You can choose to continue to generate income or not work at all after retiring from your job. How? By starting your own business. And you can avoid having to draw down your savings or investments. Or deciding to take Social Security early vs. delaying it for several years to get a much bigger monthly check.
Entrepreneurship has become a viable and important post-retirement solution to generate income. One in four (26 percent) of new entrepreneurs in 2017 were age 55 to 64, according to the Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City nonprofit.
Here’s some inspiration: The founders of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Campbell’s Soup, IBM, Geico and Kentucky Fried Chicken were older than 50 when they established their businesses.
A cautionary note: New ventures can fail. The Small Business Administration notes that 20 percent of businesses that started in 2016 didn’t make it to 2017. The agency estimates about half of all establishments don’t survive five years.
If you think that entrepreneurship may be the right Plan B for you, here are some key prelaunch tips to think about:
1. Write a business plan. One of the best ways to avoid the startup graveyard is devising a business plan, even though you may not need any money from banks or investors. A business plan is simply a written description of what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Don’t look at this as a waste of time or a hassle. Rather, embrace it as an opportunity for startup survival and growth. It will help you identify and avoid potential land mines.
2. Educate yourself on sales. New business survival is based on signing up paying customers or clients. You don’t have a business without them. Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner and one of the main investors on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” said it best; “Sales cures everything.”
3. Learn marketing. How are you going to find potential customers? New entrepreneurs need to let potential customers know that their business exists. Start doing your homework. Position yourself as an expert in your field through speaking and writing, appearing on radio and television shows, getting published, using social media, etc. But keep this in mind: When it comes to “pitching” the media, it is not about you or the business, it’s about the story.
4. Downsize. To save money, you may want to begin living below your means. And if you are under 65 and don’t qualify for Medicare, but want to save thousands of dollars on health care for yourself and/or family, start thinking about working part-time at a company that offers benefits.
5. Expect sacrifices. You are about to take the entrepreneurial plunge. Now realize that certain personal or financial sacrifices will need to be made along the way in order to achieve your dream.
Neil F. Anderson is founder and president of the Courage Group Inc., a startup services company. Editor’s note: Business Forum submissions of no more than 900 words can be sent via e-mail to Doug Iverson, business team leader, at firstname.lastname@example.org.