Want a Better Retirement? Start an Online Business
A comfortable retirement at age 65 used to be a standard part of the American dream, but these days, many adults keep working well past that age. Others—about 20% — say they never expect to retire.
Why the change in expectations?
Retirement’s expensive, and some people are afraid it will be dull, too. Part-time work and self-employment offer a middle path that can give you post-retirement income, something to do, and more freedom to control your schedule.
Even if you’re not ready to quit your day job any time soon, starting an online business on the side now can help you transition to retirement when you’re ready.
Why work past retirement age?
More Americans seniors (age 65 and older) are working now than at any point since 2000, according to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center. Nineteen percent of this age group works full- or part-time, and over-65s are the only age group with rising employment rates.
Experts say the trend is due to the fact that retirement—especially healthcare—is increasingly expensive, especially as average life expectancies grow.
There are emotional reasons for working, too. Some workers enjoy their jobs and don’t want to give up careers they’ve spend years building. Extroverts may shudder at the idea of giving up the workplace relationships they’ve developed, while introverts may stress out at the thought of having to establish new social connections after retirement. And plenty of people have kicked around the idea of changing careers or moving to a dream destination if they could afford to do so.
Working past retirement with an online business
An online business can help older workers – and younger ones, too – meet these goals. Whether you want to retire altogether from your current career, keep working half-time, or pack up and work from Central America or Thailand, an online business may be a way to achieve your goals while still earning money.
An online business can provide a low-overhead way to earn income
Starting an online business isn’t free, but it does spare you some major expenses like commercial rent and commuting costs. This post covers the must-haves for starting an online business so you can price your options and build a budget. If you’re not close to retirement age yet, that just means you have more time to research, plan, and save for your online business.
An online business can help you change careers or shift gears
Maybe you’re an accountant who’s always dreamed of running a screen-printing business. Maybe you’re an advertising account manager who would rather consult one-on-one with your own clients. Or maybe you’re one of the many Americans who’s gradually aging out of a physically demanding job like housekeeping, landscaping or construction. The New York Times reported in 2016 that some older blue-collar workers are switching gears to become mentors in their fields, switching to desk jobs, or becoming their own bosses.
By developing an online business model for a new career or consulting role, you can make the transition more easily when you’re ready.
An online business can help you stay busy and engaged
If the idea of staying home with your tech and your online store sounds like heaven, you already understand one benefit of owning an online business. But online business ownership isn’t just for loners. There’s a huge and always-growing list of local, regional, and national events that cater to or include online business owners so you can network and pick up new professional skills.
The Small Business Administration has a national calendar of in-person and online events for business owners that you can search by location and date. Many of these events are free or inexpensive and provide information new and experienced owners can use. Some of the topics on offer as of this writing are Quickbooks instruction, accessing capital for your business, guerilla marketing techniques, and business plan development.
If you thrive on big, high-energy events and have the time and budget to attend them, Inc. has a great list of some of the most popular options for small business owners. Your state or city may hold annual business expos, and just about every town has a business group that meets regularly for networking lunches and social time.
Online retailers can extend their reach into the community by vending at fairs and other special events. Vending can be a great way to connect with shoppers who want to see and touch the merchandise before they buy or who want to get to know your story and learn about your process. And your online shop is a great way to promote these live events.
An online business gives you the option to live anywhere
Especially if your business provides creative services (writing, web design) or professional advice (consulting), you’re free to work from just about any place that offers reliable electricity and internet access. Some people go full digital nomad and travel from place to place while running their business, as Heather Wilde did while she helped to found Evernote from a sailboat and an RV.
Others take their online business with them when they move to a retirement destination that’s more affordable than the US. Latin America is an especially popular destination for working retirees, thanks to the comparatively low cost of living in most locations, access to good health care, the number of English-speaking expat communities, and shared time zones with clients based in the US.
Figuring out your online business path
Starting an online business costs less up front than starting a brick-and-mortar business, but it requires the same kind of careful planning and preparation. Here are more tools to help you move forward:
- Read our quick guide to the 11 things you’ll need to do to start your online business.
- Download the free HostGator Guide to Launching Your Home Business for how-to tips on everything from deciding if you should be your own boss to filing your new-business paperwork and developing products and services.
- Get inspired by these 50 online business ideas.
Take the time to work through your business plan and startup steps carefully so you can have your online business up and running the way you want when you’re ready to retire from full-time work. And when you’re ready to set up your online business website, we can help you get started.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.