Martha Stewart was 49 when she published her first magazine. Ray Kroc was 52 when he started what is now the world’s largest fast-food chain, McDonald’s. His rival, Colonel Harland Sanders, was a decade older – a youthful 62 – when he founded Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Sure, the best time to start a business was yesterday, but the second-best time is right now, and if you bring the right attitude – a desire to succeed and a commitment to making it happen – your age doesn’t particularly matter. Nor are you limited to the food-related examples above; Arianna Huffington was 55 when she launched what is now one of the world’s largest and influential online publications, The Huffington Post.
For those who have navigated 50 years of life or more, but who remain entrepreneurial at heart, a wealth of business opportunities are still on the table. Starting a business after 50 can be every bit as exciting and fruitful as starting one in your twenties – you just need to choose the right path.
For those who are in the market for business ideas after retirement, here are 20 of the best.
Having navigated through half a century of life or more, you’ll have collected quite a lot of knowledge, which you can put to good use by [guiding the next generation through their studies. As a tutor, you can work with students at a primary, secondary or tertiary level, although you should note that the further up the educational ladder you climb, the deeper and more specialised your tutoring skill set will need to be!
2. Life coach
In life, as in business, experience counts for a lot. If you’re known for your ability to lend a kind ear and offer up sage advice, your post-retirement calling could be as a life coach. It’s important to point out that a life coach isn’t a professional calling, and that your advice shouldn’t wander into territory reserved for therapists and psychologists, but you can nonetheless offer valuable guidance to those who need it.
3. Business mentor
Do you have a long and successful track record in business? As a business mentor you’ll offer much the same support as a life coach does, only this time it will be business-specific. There’s something truly rewarding in using your knowledge and experience to help someone else succeed, and you can even be paid for the pleasure!
Have you always had a passion for performing? While making it big on Broadway or in Hollywood might be a long shot, there are other ways to put your talents to use - and make some money in the process! As a marriage celebrant or a professional master of ceremonies (MC), your job is to put smiles on faces, and perhaps an occasional happy tear in the eye. You also get to enjoy yourself at an endless succession of fun events!
5. Industry/project consultant
For those who spent their pre-retirement lives building up a deep and specialised skill set, working as a consultant can prove an incredibly lucrative opportunity. Consultants are in-demand in every industry imaginable, offering their services in general or project-specific capacities. If you choose this route it’s wise to use a tool like Square Appointments to ensure you’re never double-booked.
Business ideas for retired people needn’t be limited to guiding others. As the mature founders mentioned at the top have proven, you can start a business at any age. Becoming a franchisee does offer a more comfortable journey into business ownership, however, as you get an almost IKEA-style set of instructions for establishing the foundation of your business.
Another option for those who are good with numbers is bookkeeping is the sort of work that will never go out of style. No matter how clever and automated accounting tools get, there will always be work to do in generating quotes and invoices, reconciling accounts and ensuring tax obligations are met. There is a fantastic freelance opportunity for those who know how to balance the books.
Who said business ideas for the retired couldn’t be fun? If you’re a more gregarious retiree who isn’t shy in front of a microphone, and who can capture the attention of an audience, you might consider starting a podcast. If your talents lie more in the written than the spoken word, you may be able to carve out a niche in the blog space. If you build an audience, these opportunities can eventually be monetised through sponsorships.
9. Real estate investor/landlord
Shares and real estate are considered the two safest investments for a reason. Sure, the market can dip from time to time, but ultimately these are investments that have always outpaced inflation. If you’ve built a nice nest egg over your professional life, you might consider becoming a real estate investor and landlord who enjoys a steady stream of income from tenants.
11. Ecommerce retailer
Thanks to the emergence of a wealth of smart tools, it has never been easier to start an online store than it is right now. The average person can now build a website, set up payment systems and get selling. Exactly what you sell is up to you, but it’s wise to find products that are in-demand and easy to source, in an area that has minimal competition but that you have a passion for. If you choose to become a dropshipper, you also won’t find yourself burdened with inventory!
Sell anything with a free online store.
12. House painter
If you’re someone who doesn’t mind getting active, and who enjoys the sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes from making something old look new again, you might consider becoming a house painter. A profession forever in demand, but that doesn’t require any licences or qualifications, painting can be a great way to earn a bit of extra dough.
Another opportunity for those who aren’t afraid of hard work, lawn mowing, landscaping and gardening grant you the chance to spend your workdays outdoors making backyards look beautiful. One of the best parts of this job – apart from the hours spent in the sunshine – is the fact that the grass always grows (in Australia at least.) Once you build up a solid client base you’ll enjoy a steady flow of work.
14. Home handyperson
Are you talented with the tools? Are you known for your ability to fix doors, mount pictures and grout tiles? As a home handyperson, you’ll be tasked with all manner of odd jobs, meaning the work never gets old – there will always be a new challenge to tackle. You also get to meet new people and see new places!
15. Pet sitter
The opportunity to spend long days with furry friends and get paid for the pleasure. If you’re excited by this thought, you might be a prospective pet sitter. Pet sitting can take many forms, from visiting a pet a couple of times a day to ensure they’re fed and watered, to taking them home for weeks at a time while their owners are away.
16. Bed and breakfast owner
Calling all hosts with the most: if you enjoy making guests feel at home, you might consider becoming the proud owner of a B&B. Happily, this is easier than ever – you no longer need to purchase a purpose-built building as your bed and breakfast, but can instead use any old property thanks to websites like Airbnb and Stayz. What’s more, the level of hosting you offer is entirely up to you!
As Ray Kroc and Harland Sanders so ably demonstrated, the food business doesn’t discriminate by age. As long as you bring the requisite passion and skill, you’ve every chance of becoming a success no matter what age you start. As a restaurateur, you’ll be tasked with commanding both the front and back of the house, while ensuring your guests are well treated and well-fed. It’s a rewarding game but be warned that it can also be a rather exhausting one.
18. Tour guide
Another opportunity in the hospitality game, guiding tourists around your part of the world can be another of the more rewarding business ideas after retirement. It combines opportunities to perform, to share something you’re passionate about, and meet friendly people. You could offer a tips-only walking tour of your city, or a multi-day trek through your state – the extent of your tour is entirely up to you!
19. Event planner
If you’re the sort of person who gets a thrill from bringing an event together, and has a knack for ensuring that Is are dotted and Ts are crossed, event planning might be the business for you. Whether you offer your services for birthdays, weddings or commercial events, as a planner you’ll need to be on the ball, constantly communicating with your clients, suppliers and other relevant parties.
20. Goods trader
Do you have a talent for negotiating and an eye for a bargain? Many retirees manage to turn a passion for collecting into a fully-fledged business, buying goods – antiques, clothing, paintings, collectibles – at cheap prices, then selling them for a profit. If you choose to go this route you might consider investing in a Square Reader, which plugs into your phone and allows your customers to pay for your products on a card.
It’s often said that life begins at 50, and looking at the business opportunities a retiree has at their disposal, that adage seems to hold true. For those who have the necessary desire, business ideas after retirement are almost as plentiful as business ideas before retirement.
And for those who do choose to go into business at an older age than most, you can trust that Square will be there to help you on your journey, with a complete suite of payment and business tools.