Small Business Ideas for Older Adults
Although they may not fit the profile that comes to mind when imagining the typical entrepreneur, adults nearing retirement should consider their options when it comes to starting their own business. The reasons to consider doing so are numerous, but I’ll start by echoing Jake Martin’s observations that make older adults especially primed to enter the startup market: financial circumstances, qualifications, and connections.
These advantages, coupled with impressive data about what’s come to be known as the “caregiving market,” reveal retirees to have a unique advantage; this growing market is being forecast as reaching $72 billion by 2020, according to the American Association for Retired Persons, and a whopping $279 billion is the amount projected to be spent on caregiving from 2016 through 2020. AARP has also found that nearly 90 percent of seniors would prefer to remain in their homes and live independently, rather than resorting to a retirement community or assisted living facility. Moreover, the phrase “aging in place” is a thing now, and there’s even a blog dedicated to technology related to the concept.
Because of these trends, the future of Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists is quite secure, as described in a recent New York Times article about the widespread need for age-in-place accommodations for older homeowners. Any product intended to facilitate more convenient living for aging homeowners is likely to find a captive audience as long as it makes sense, is well-designed, and truly fills a niche—especially one that remains untapped, as of yet. There’s another discussion trend gaining popularity among aging adults: according to the Brookings Institute, age has become a diversity and inclusion issue, and entrepreneurs would be wise to tap into this widespread sentiment, among aging adults.
I can only imagine that being an entrepreneur who is also aging would likely be good for business among older adults. If marketing targets an older customer base, potential buyers could be more amenable to the product due to feeling more kinship with the seller or brand. More companies should tap into this developing market, but it’s likely that many don’t even know of its existence. According to The New York Times, “The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found that 24.3 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2015 were ages 55 to 64, compared with 14.8 percent in 1996. The Small Business Administration reports that one in four people between 44 and 70 are interested in becoming entrepreneurs.”
In fact, the goal of getting more aging adults back into the workforce could, in itself, become a social entrepreneurship-type enterprise. What other products and services are older consumers likely to find especially appealing? As mentioned earlier, anything related to home life, such as house sitting, maintenance, pet-related services, personal or small business finance, like balancing cash flow—in short, products or services that enable aging adults to remain healthy and independent for as long as possible—would hold interest for older consumers. One example is a service that helps seniors with limited mobility find and adopt the ideal shelter animal for them. Studies show that seniors who are active and own a pet remain healthier for a longer period of time than seniors who are isolated or depressed.
Businesses built around activities that are therapeutic for seniors, therefore, could be a huge hit among residents of retirement communities. Another example of a potentially profitable product or service is anything having to do with making experiential music listening or production more accessible, for a variety of purposes—including therapeutic. The potential for music as a tool for memory recovery, behavior modification, and psychotherapy is enormous, as it’s been shown to have the ability to give a feeling of protection to individuals in paranoid situations, even helping to guard against depression, loneliness, and guilt in subject studies.
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Are you approaching retirement or already transitioning to a life outside of the typical workplace? If so, have you considered starting your own business? Share your input in the comment section, below!