Starting a business can be an expensive lesson in how to fail miserably.
A great number of we Silver Agers are intrigued by the idea of filling some of our new-found time by taking advantage of our experiences and interests and starting our own small business.
We think that this will be a great way to share our knowledge, to absorb some leisure time, and bring in an income to supplement what we have allocated for our retirement. And as someone who has done just that, I can tell you that you can do exactly that and enjoy all the benefits above.
On the other hand, (there is almost always a “but”) if one does not plan correctly, starting a business can be an expensive lesson in how to fail miserably.
In talking with others of my peers, looking at my own experience, and reading up on this, I have several cautions that one must consider when undertaking starting one’s own small business.
The first and most important to me is defining what you want out of your business.
In other words, define what “success” means to you. Do you want to make money? If so, how much? Some businesses can be an extension of a ministry and be wholly or partly non-profit. In any case, just be sure you know what your monetary goal is. Does success mean that you want your business to grow over time, to be well known in your community, to be able to be sold or passed on to another? I am sure that if you take the time think about it, you have other, personal, factors that define success for you. Write them down and share them with someone you trust.
Second is doing the research to determine if there is a demand for your business. Is there already another service or product in the market? Is there actually a demand for your business? How do you know? Can you deliver your product at an economically realistic price? Have you developed a budget and business that includes all your expenses and the time it will take for you to run at a loss while building up your clientele or market?
Third, how are you going to promote your business? Will you rely on word of mouth only? If so, get testimonials from your clients that you can share with others. Do you need a web site? Will you take out ads in the local paper and if so, what do they cost? Will you be doing a mailing or an e blast? If so, to whom, to what demographic?
Fourth, and critically important, what local, state, and federal licenses, taxes, and other regulations do you have to comply with? How should you incorporate to best protect yourself and your assets? Do you have a reliable bookkeeper and accountant (not you, a relative, or close friend)?
Finally, have you taken all this and more to someone who has been successful and will review it with you? The cost of this consultation may seem to be a frivolous expenditure, but I can assure you that it is money well spent. Someone who is good at this can save you not only money and time, but may save you from failing at your dream.