As 78 million American baby boomers begin to move into their retirement years, they are redefining what retirement means. For many, it doesn’t mean they’ve stopped working, but rather that they are exercising more choice over how they work. According to a 2009 survey, some 75 percent of people who chose to engage in some form of work found the work satisfying, and in four out of five cases, they were able to find white collar jobs for what are known as “encore careers.”
Picking the perfect second act for your career can involve trying a field that’s always interested you, helping out with a cause that you believe in, or getting a chance to run your own business.
If it’s running your own business that appeals to you, chances are you don’t want to sink a large chunk of your retirement savings into a new venture at this point. Therefore, the key is getting started with minimal investment up front. This is very possible these days, depending on how you set up your business, and what type of business you choose to go into.
Getting Started with a Shoestring Budget
To start a business with relatively little up front capital, the key is to minimize fixed costs. Variable costs–expenses of the pay-as-you-go variety–are preferable because they allow you to ramp up or scale back investment depending on how the business is going.
Here are some key tools for keeping fixed costs to a minimum:
- E-commerce Solutions. Who needs a business location when you have the Internet? The ultimate low-overhead storefront, the Internet gives you access to a world of potential customers. Utilizing e-commerce solutions is much cheaper than having a physical place of business where you receive customers. For example, it allows you to avoid the many expenses of having a retail outlet, such as rent, utilities, staffing, and insurance.
- Outsourcing Back Office Infrastructure. Rather than building a complete organization from scratch, try to outsource anything that isn’t central to the unique value proposition of your business. For example, functions such as customer support, credit card processing and human resources are only needed occasionally or periodically. Therefore, it makes more sense to utilize outsourced call center services for telemarketing or customer support or HR outsourcing for human resource activities than to try to staff it internally.
- Use Online, Social Media Strategies to Promote Your Business. Developing a full scale online social media strategy can seem overwhelming at first. But you can implement simple things by hiring interns to do the leg work such as starting a blog or using Twitter, and tracking different programs making adjustments along the way.
Low-Cost Entrepreneurial Business Ideas
If the above are some techniques for structuring a business with minimum up front investment, what are some lines of business which lend themselves to getting started with minimal capital?
One rule of thumb is that services generally require less investment than manufacturers or retailers, though with e-commerce some re-sellers can operate cheaply if they have tight supply lines and add value in the process. Focusing on services, the following are some examples of businesses that might be right for the current environment, and can be started on a shoestring.
- Business consulting. If many retiring boomers are going to be starting their own businesses, why not use your business experience to help show them how to do it?
- Green consulting. People are striving to become more energy-efficient, for economic and environmental reasons. If you have expertise in this area, consulting with businesses and homeowners on how to reduce their consumption is a natural.
- Public relations. If you have media and promotional experience, you could be in demand with the new wave of entrepreneurs starting their own businesses. In particular, bringing knowledge of modern promotional techniques such as social media strategies could be valuable to these new businesses.
- Employment counseling. Between a weak economy and an aging population, there are many people facing a career crossroads these days. Helping them find the right niche can be a good way to make use of any personnel experience you have.
- Online Lead Generation. Sales Lead Generation is growing by leaps and bounds as far as start up industries are concerned. This is a very special industry that affords flexibility and freedom that is unparalleled. And, there is even a significant demand for highly specialized lead generation consultants to help companies generate qualified sales leads and business opportunities in this market.
Running your own business may not have been your parents’ idea of retirement, but things are very different today. If you have the entrepreneurial itch, starting a venture might just give you the satisfaction and extra income to make your “golden years” more than just an expression.