Savvy Business Start-Ups for 50+ Individuals
By Priscilla Y. Huff
Though it is illegal to discriminate in hiring individuals who are forty years or older, recent studies reveal prospective employers have been reluctant to hire older, jobless workers in these slow economic times because they believe they will have to pay them higher wages, or that they may lack updated job skills or for other reasons. As a result, many jobless, 55-plus persons have been compelled to become entrepreneurs and are successfully starting their own businesses to support themselves or to supplement their current job earnings or retirement incomes. If you are an older adult who is looking for a needed income opportunity and/or to fulfill an entrepreneurial dream, here are fifteen business ideas for you to consider:**
**Please note: Professional associations are primarily networking organizations and generally do not provide start-up information. Include a business-sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope with any postal correspondence.
Professional consultants are individuals who have experience and expertise, and are recognized as authorities in their professions or industries. They are in high demand in both good and slow economic times as they offer clients advice to help solve problems and expand their businesses or expertise; or they may work in temporary positions as needed by their clients.
Success Tips: Market your services in specialty markets niches rather than as a generalist. Offer to talk to target groups and to conduct workshops at industry conferences. Encourage referrals from satisfied clients; and utilize a web site to reach regular and potential clients with articles and e-newsletters. Build residual income in offering CDs, ebooks, video presentations, and other products related to your profession and consulting practice.
Suggested Resources: *Association of Professional Consultants, http://www.consultapc.org/ *Get Clients Now by C.J. Hayden, MCC **See the Home Business© Magazine article, “Getting Started as a Consultant” in the October 2009 issue.
2. Crafts-Fine Arts
If you have handmade products you would like to sell as a business venture, conduct a thorough market research and testing at wholesale and craft shows to see if they have the profit potential that warrants your work and time. Subscribe to professional arts and crafts publications and groups for business and production tips. Refine your skills by enrolling in courses at art or craft centers.
Success Tips: Research competitors to see how your designs can stand out from theirs. Conduct trial sales on online auction and craft-selling sites to determine demand and pricing. Decide if mass-production or creating one-of-a-kind items is the best way to produce your items. Advertise in publications or through your web site or others to reach your best customers.
Suggested Resources: *The Crafts Report, www.craftsreport.com – arts-crafts business print publication * The Crafts Business Answer Book by Barbara Brabec
With present online retail sales reaching over 200 billion dollars and no signs of slowing down, it is an ideal time to consider selling a product or service using the Internet. Research your chosen e-commerce business idea(s) to see what you can offer that potential competitors cannot.
Success Tips: Test-market your products and services through online auctions and other sites offering low-cost stores, before launching full-time into a full-service web site with shopping cart software and credit card capabilities. Stay connected to paying customers through regular e-mails and e-zines; and providing excellent customer service with follow-up satisfaction queries. Attract new customers with print and media articles and ads.
Suggested Resources: * Start an Online Business, www.business.gov/start/online-business/ **See the Home Business© Magazine article, “25+ E-Commerce Start-Ups” in the February 2010 issue.
4. Food Specialties
The popularity of television food-preparation shows has spurred the interest in learning how to cook foods of many local and ethnic cuisines. You may want to turn a dessert, condiment, or a special family recipe into a commercial product.
Success Tips: Previous cooking experience, especially in a commercial kitchen is recommended. Produce your product in your own licensed kitchen or a rented one. Take time to learn all that is involved in taking a food product to market from other food entrepreneurs and experts. Test-market your product at farmers’ markets or specialty food stores before making a large monetary investment. Exhibit at food specialty shows to find distributors, or market and sell via the Internet.
Suggested Resources: *Food Entrepreneur Resources, http://foodsafety.psu.edu/processor/resources.htm * National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc., www.SpecialtyFood.com *Sell Your Specialty Food…by Stephen F. Hall
5. Collectibles’ Appraiser-Seller
Individuals, estate lawyers, non-profit organizations, and collectors often need their antiques and collections appraised for their value for insurance coverage, to settle estates, or to price for selling. You can charge a fee for your written reports that evaluate your clients’ items’ true market worth, as well as provide the best selling avenues for them. You can choose to also be a consigner and sell clients’ items for a percentage of the sales.
Success Tips: Specialize in the items you prefer and have knowledge about. Join trade associations for further study, credentials, and networking opportunities. Learning how to detect imitations or fakes will add to your service’s marketability. Promote your services at shows, to auction houses, through referrals, by writing columns, and with a web site. Stay current with trends that affect pricing and the demand for certain items.
Suggested Resources: *Appraisers Assn. of America, www.appraisersassoc.org/ * www.kovels.com/ – site of antique and collector experts and authors.
6. Radio Show
If you are an expert in gardening, parenting, finances, or other professions, you might consider hosting a radio show from your own home studio. Many entrepreneurs are also broadcasting a variety of programming with their own Web-based radio stations. Make money with advertisers and residual products of books, CDs, and other related products.
Success Tips: A background and/or experience in broadcasting and communications, as well as the technological know-how are essential. Increase your listening audience by offering to do regular spots on other stations, local outlets, or web sites’ shows, or at web conferences. Build your name recognition by writing articles and books and by speaking in your profession and industry until you can afford the equipment and funding to fully-operate your own program.
Suggested Resources: *Creating Powerful Radio: Getting, Keeping and Growing Audiences News, Talk, Information & Personality Broadcast, HD, Satellite & Internet by Valerie Geller
*http://radio.about.com/index.htm – information, Internet radio
7. Moving Specialist/Coordinator
If you are well-organized, have good people skills, and have an active network of other professionals with whom you can partner, consider starting a moving-specialty and coordinating service. Potential customers might include seniors who are downsizing; business executives and military families who are moving across the country; and other individuals who do not have the time to handle all the integrated tasks that moving one’s household involves. You may also specialize in moving livestock, boats, machinery, antiques, pianos, or fine art for businesses and organizations.
Success Tips: Previous experience in the moving industry or certain products is helpful. Have the necessary insurance (liability, bonding) and any licenses and certifications needed. Add services such as shipping items; contacting utility companies; assisting with change of address notifications; taking items to auctions; staging homes for sale; organizing new spaces, and the coordination of arrangements that lead to a well-orchestrated move for your clients. Attention to detail and having caring, courteous help and consideration, will foster satisfied clients and their referrals.
Suggested Resources: *American Moving and Storage Assn., www.moving.org *How to Survive A Move by Hundreds of Heads (series)
8. Professional Speaker
If you enjoy speaking to groups and have a presentation that will inspire, teach, or relay a compelling story or events that appeal to your particular audience, you can consider speaking on a professional basis. Most successful speakers start part-time while working in their professions, giving workshops and keynote speeches and perfecting their presentations over several years until they earn enough to become full-time professionals.
Success Tips: Join local or national chapters of speakers’ organizations to get feedback and tips from professional speakers to improve your speaking and delivery skills. Offer to speak at local organizations, colleges, and business groups and to get referrals for more engagements. Concentrate on delivering what your audience wants to hear and caring about their interests.
Suggested Resources: *The National Speakers Assn., www.nsaspeaker.org/ *Toastmasters International, www.toastmasters.org/
If you love children and being a grandparent or wish to be one, you can advertise your services to baby-sit children on special occasions; assist new mothers and fathers in caring for newborns in their homes; attend special events or vacation with families; or carry-out additional activities or tasks associated with being a grandparent.
Success Tips: Complete background checks and clearances that you may be required to have to work with children. Experience and/or education credentials and an understanding of the ages of the children with whom you are working are important to be a success. Market your services through local family publications and referrals from families or social organizations.
Suggested Resources: *www.Grandparents.com – resource site with activities, advice, product reviews. *The Grandparent Guide…by Arthur Kornhaber, founder, www.Grandparenting.org
10. Repair Specialist
Take advantage of the growing “Green” movement as yesterday’s throw-away society is changing to one of recycling, and reusing by offering to repair quality specialty items from vintage clocks and jewelry, to musical instruments, bicycles, old toys, and even designer shoes. Set-up areas in a refurbished garage or outbuilding where customers can pick-up or drop-off items; or offer to pick up and deliver repaired items for them.
Success Tips: Apprentice with experts to gain additional skills. Conduct preliminary research to see if a potential, paying market exists for your services. Advertise in local classified ads newspapers or free, regional online classified ad sites, and with your basic web site. Place business cards in retail stores selling these items, new or vintage. Encourage customer referrals.
Suggested Resources: *www.Business.gov/ – U. S. business start-up information portal * www.SCORE.org/online_workshops.html – online business development workshops
11. Specialty Driving Service
If you like people and have a good driving record, consider starting a specialty driving service, focusing on transporting children to and from after-school activities; picking up and delivering people to public transportation centers and night-time events; taking seniors to medical appointments; or even driving pets to groomers or veterinarians.
Success Tips: Fulfill all commercial licensing and insurance and business regulations; as well as any required background security checks. Conduct surveys to determine what types of transportations are needed most in your area.
Suggested Resources: Starting a Driving Service For Pleasure and Profit (Business eBook Reports)
by Dana Carter
12. Audio-Video Production Services
Multi-media specialists consult with business owners, agencies, organizations, and professionals to create videos, CDs, DVDs, audio tapes, and other related products for staff training, sales promotions, presentations at seminars, trade shows, or workshops; and also film for television, documentaries, and video for web and social marketing sites. Check with local colleges or technical schools for related courses if you need additional skills.
Success Tips: Experience and operating knowledge of the latest computer and equipment technology are required. When starting out, lease or rent equipment to save money, and determine what is the best for your project. Network with others in your industry to find an open market niche in this highly-competitive line of work. Partner with other entrepreneurs to provide a total package tailored to your clients’ needs.
Suggested Resources: *Videomaker Magazine, www.videomaker.com * Web site: www.VideoUniversity.com/
13. Specialty Farming
Fear of food-related illnesses, toxic chemicals from fertilizers and contaminated water, and a demand for healthier meals, are all creating a demand for natural foods and beverages. Organic and natural growers sell to local consumers, eating establishments, and institutions and through online and mail order venues, depending on the produce or products. Eating establishments and grocery stores are also looking for fresh foods and antibiotic-free eggs and meats.
Success Tips: Research the potential markets for your products, and test buyer responses at local farmers’ markets and trade shows. Enroll in courses offered by agriculture colleges and county extension offices. Join local growers’ or farmers associations for tips and networking opportunities.
Suggested Resources: * Backyard Market Gardening by Andy, W. Lee, Patricia, L Foreman *USDA’s Extension Services, www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/ – local federal offices offering free or low-cost business counseling.
14. Tour Leader
Travel is no longer for wealthy individuals. Competition and the recent slow economic times have created affordable prices that have made travel a popular pastime for all ages. You can lead bike, bus, rail, ship, and/or flight tours to local, state-, nation-, or worldwide destinations. You can subcontract your services to local travel agencies, tourists bureaus, schools, volunteer agencies, and other organizations; or you can operate your own tour business.
Success Tips: Check to see what licensing and business regulations you must follow. It is helpful to have a travel industry background; or enroll in courses for needed certification. Decide what type of tours you want to lead and write a business and marketing plan to reach potential customers. Advertise in travel publications, radio and television ads, by writing articles, and with a web site. Add additional income with travel CDs and publications of tours; and by offering to find the best deals and packages for your clients.
Suggested Resources: *The Business of Tour Operations, 3rd ed., by Pat Yale * www.itmitourtraining.com/ – Tour director training
15. Vintage Reproductions or Restoration
Theatre, movie, and television companies; collectors, and different mature age groups seek reproductions of vintage clothing, jewelry, old toys, and other bygone items for various purposes or for their collections. Antique specialists, museums, and collectors will also pay for the repair or restoration of original items ranging from fountain pens, vehicles, telephones, and countless other items.
Success Tips: Enroll in old-world craft centers, or take private lessons to learn the skills needed to reproduce or restore the items in which you plan to specialize. Test-market your items, selling on online auction sites, as well as on craft and specialty sites. Find new customers by writing and advertising in related trade publications and collectors’ sites.
*http://AntiqueRestorers.com/ – information
*Vintage Indie™ Magazine, http://vintageindie.typepad.com/vintage_indie/about_.html – vintage entrepreneurs
For more business start-up information, visit web sites like the U. S. Small Business Administration’s www.sba.gov/50plusentrepreneur/index.html; www.SCORE.org; the Kauffman Foundation’s Fast-Trac business development programs, www.fasttrac.org/; and local community resources. Research your idea, consult with experts, write a business plan, and then launch into your own home-business. Start today and operate it the rest of your life, if you choose, earning money while doing work you love! HBM
Priscilla Y. Huff (www.PYHuff.com) welcomes comments and on Twitter: http://Twitter.com/HerHisBizWriter.
Previously published in the April 2010 issue of HOME BUSINESS® Magazine, an international publication for the growing and dynamic home-based market. Available on newsstands, in bookstores and chain stores, and via subscriptions ($19.00 for 1 year, six issues). Visit www.homebusinessmag.com