Ready to do things on your terms now? If you’re over 50 and thinking of starting a small business to supplement your retirement benefits like social security, you’re far from alone. Retirees and near-retirees the world over are becoming aware that their retirement is going to cost more than they planned for. They’re looking for ways to supplement income, or just productive ways to fill their time in retirement. Starting a small business over 50 is a great way to solve both of those problems at once, whether you’re still working a day job or not. Retirement work and the passive income it can bring can make a world of difference in your retirement and really add to your overall retirement plan.
A common fear among late-career workers is that if they stop working and opt for a retirement work at home job the learning curve will be too steep. You’ve spent your life learning one trade and you won’t be able to start your own business after 50. It’s not true. There is a wide array of small business ideas for people over 50 and one or another is tailored to virtually anybody’s skillset.
According to The Kauffman Foundation, a non-profit foundation that studies entrepreneurship, right now the age group that is most commonly interested in starting a new business is those aged 55 to 64. These are people who have had a wealth of experience over the course of long and storied careers and they are now well set up to begin their own businesses in order to capitalize off of their knowledge in retirement.
There is also a new attitude toward development, with a lot of people over 50 not wanting to look at this new act of life as being “done”, but wanting instead to transition into a more relaxed but still productive new chapter with more control over how they spend their days, months, and years.
The big question to start with is exactly what home business is right for your needs and your situation. Here we’ll look at a few home businesses for seniors and retirees that are easy to get started in and potentially offer a lot more freedom than day jobs or traditional businesses.
When most people think about running a business in retirement, e-commerce doesn’t come to mind. It seems like a lot of work to manufacture products, market them online, and fulfill orders. And doesn’t it require some serious technical know-how to work in e-commerce?
Contrary to popular belief, running an e-commerce business for retirement is actually quite easy. There’s no need to create your own products, and there’s already proven systems in place that can help you promote them online. I work in e-commerce myself, and I promise I didn’t have any special tech knowledge to start out with.
Our Red Pill Retirement Podcast is devoted to giving you the best information out there on your options for retirement work.
Here are two main commerce business types that are a great option for people over 50:
Dropshipping for Retirement Work
Selling physical goods is one great way to build extra income to achieve your retirement goals. More and more people make purchases online, and this market is wide open to be tapped by new business owners. According to eMarketer, ecommerce sales will see double-digit growth through 2020, topping $4 trillion, and dwarfing economic growth in developed countries.
You don’t have to create products, you don’t have to buy them in bulk, you don’t even have to keep an inventory at all. Your job is just to facilitate the sale. You sell the product, you conduct the customer service, but once the purchase made, you in turn make the purchase directly from the supplier and the supplier handles the shipping and handling to the customer. This is a highly effective way to make money online.
You can read some of my wife’s experiences here with one of our dropshipping stores.
One of the best things about dropshipping as a business is how little you have to spend to get started. In fact, you don’t actually have to make a purchase until after you’ve already made a successful sale. You don’t have to manage warehouses or factories or anything like that. Your overhead stays low and growth doesn’t necessarily cost you much extra time since most of the process is handled by the suppliers (and you could always hire a remote worker if you’re raking in too many sales to handle yourself; that’s a great problem to have). It’s a scalable business that’s easy to get started in with lots of opportunity for growth.
On top of that, a dropshipping business doesn’t require your physical presence, so you can run the business from pretty much anywhere you can get a wifi connection. If you want, you can retire to a location with a low cost of living and reap the rewards of your new home business on a scale far beyond that which you’d get at home.
Best of all, you can start a dropshipping business selling just about any product that you’re interested in. Since you’re not tied to a location and don’t need to store products yourself, you might as well build a business around something that’s already of interest to you and that you have a strong knowledge of. After all, if you’re going to dedicate time to it in retirement, it might as well be something that you enjoy spending your time on anyway.
Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon)
FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) is a business model in which you store your products with Amazon, and when people purchase your products, Amazon packs and ships the orders for you. You’re able to focus on growing your business without worrying about storage, shipping, and so on. It’s a business model that lets you take advantage of the enormous network and customer base Amazon has at their disposal. You’re able to function like a large corporation in all the best ways without many of the little pains that tend to come with actually being one.
Instead of having to worry about getting your products to your customer on your own like a traditional ecommerce business would, Amazon is able to ship most orders right the doors of their Prime members in just two to five days.
Another major benefit of the FBA model is that adding products to your catalogue will not increase your workload in terms of inventorying or product listings. Whatever products you want to sell, all you have to do is ship them to Amazon’s warehouse and they can handle the rest.
To get started as an FBA business, all you have to do is start an Amazon seller account, which can quickly be done on Amazon’s website by clicking on the footer labeled, “Make Money with Us,” and then on the link that says, “Sell on Amazon.” You can sign up as an “Individual” or a “Professional.” Individuals are not charged a subscription fee, whereas Professionals looking to start an actual business are given one free trial month, with a price of $39.99/month after that, plus selling fees.
Once you’ve got your account, you can get to work doing product research, studying product reviews, and doing competitive analysis to decide what product you can improve on and/or offer at a better price, or you could purchase brand name products in bulk and flip them on Amazon. There are lots of ways to make use of Amazon as a fulfillment service for your products.
Depending on the field you’ve spent your careering working in, a home business offering consulting services could be something that’s a perfect fit for you. For example, if you’ve spent the past 30 years working in marketing, you could start a business consulting other small business owners on how to do this on their own.
There are a lot of ways to earn money by offering up your knowledge and expertise on a niche subject:
Standard consulting involves offering advice and recommendations on an expert topic for a fee. Maybe you’ve managed multiple warehouses for a shipping company, or you did marketing for a restaurant chain or a clothing manufacturer. Think of mistakes you made in your early career that taught you better ways of going about your business, of all the clever shortcuts and tricks of the trade you know now that you wish you’d known when you were first starting out. Well, there’s a whole generation just starting out now, and they’re online looking for people who know more than they do and who can help them navigate the waters for the right price.
It doesn’t even have to be limited to expertise gleaned from your specific profession. Right now, there are countless Millennials just getting started in their careers who are looking for advice from skilled and experienced professionals like yourself on anything from how to manage a team to how to nail an interview. Skills you’ve learned long ago and taken for granted could actually prove valuable in creating a home business for yourself.
In fact, if you’re still working a day job, you wouldn’t even need to quit to get started as a consultant. You could start your business now, work on it in the evenings and on weekends, and scale it as much as possible before you make the switch away from your day job and into doing this full time when you’re ready to retire.
And like all the home businesses we’ll be looking at here, this is something that can be done completely through the internet. There is no need for people to physically come to you or for you to physically go to them. Through Skype, messengers, emails, and phone calls, you can take this business with you any time you decide to move or travel. All you need is a wifi connection. This is probably the retirement work I recommend the most to people with decades of experience.
Info products are an even better way to earn money from your knowledge and expertise on a niche subject. Instead of offering up your time as a consultant, you create specific products that teach people what you know. Many consultants create info products in addition to offering traditional coaching services.
If you’ve spent years or decades honing your skill in a particular trade, whether it’s your career or a lifelong hobby, there is no shortage of online mediums that you can look into as a means to turn that knowledge into a business. Whether it’s an ongoing project such as a blog, or selling a digital product such as an ebook, a webinar, or an ecourse, in today’s world it’s very possible to turn your expertise in any field into something that people will pay money for.
Info products are one of the oldest digital online models. In the early days of the internet, they were often sold as simple PDF documents (and sometimes still are) that gave detailed insight and analysis on a subject or helps the reader develop a plan to approach a goal. Today they can be approached as texts for computer or ereaders, audio files to listen to in podcast form, webinars, or professionally produced videos.
There are a number of resources available for creating info products no matter what form you decide on for the end product. CourseCraft, for example, is a handy tool to help you design and market an ecourse. And there are a myriad of third-party platforms on which you can host a webinar or sell a self-published ebook. If you’re ambitious, you can even host it yourself and keep all of the profits for yourself.
In some cases, info products can even be paired with a blog that offers affiliate marketing (more on that below). You can develop a reputation as an authority within your niche, earn affiliate sales from niche-appropriate products you link to from your blog, and sell your premium content as info products to maximize revenue across the board.
An affiliate marketer doesn’t directly sell any products or services from his/her website. Instead, as an affiliate marketer, your business would be hosting advertisements or feature information on other businesses in your content with the aim to sell their products. Anytime somebody visiting your site clicks on an ad or a link and then goes on to spend money on the site you are featuring, you receive a small percentage of the profits from the sale you helped to make.
Affiliate marketing is one of the simplest and lowest cost models for starting an online business. It costs almost nothing to get started and can be worked on at your own pace in whatever spare time you’re able to dedicate to it. As a means of boosting retirement savings, affiliate marketing can be an excellent fit.
This tends to be the primary way a blogger makes money online. They pick a niche to write articles about and build up a following of people interested in the topic, and as they build their readership, they share links to relevant products, whether in the sidebars of the website or within the blog posts themselves, and every time a reader clicks on one of those links to make a purchase, the blogger earns a little money.
The key to affiliate marketing is to look for a topic you can imagine writing 50 or 100 blog posts about without getting too bored. You want to become an authority on the topic, and that’s not likely to happen if it’s not a topic in which you have a natural interest. Make a list of things you could see yourself researching, writing about, and staying up to date on and see what other websites exist in that field. If one of those niches looks to have room for a new player on the field, ask yourself what kinds of products would make sense to advertise within that niche.
It can take a little time to build yourself up as an authority and have a strong site full of useful content, but once you do, that passive income will come rolling in.
This is another channel open to anyone looking to start an online business who doesn’t want to spend a lot in the beginning. There are certain trades which are in high demand and which aren’t too difficult to learn, like bookkeeping. Maybe you’ve even worked a career where you have expertise in something that you could sell as a moonlighter, like tax services, accounting, or graphic design.
Freelance services aren’t as scalable a business as most of the other small business ideas over 50 I’m going into here, because they’re limited by your time availability. If you’re looking for part-time work in retirement, or a way to supplement your income while keeping your day job, this might be just what you’re looking for. And if demand gets to a level where you’re running out of hours in the day, you can increase your rates to find the most comfortable place to operate, so on some level there’s room for a bit of scalability.
A freelance business can be a smart strategy for pre-retirees as well, growing the business while keeping your day job as a way to boost your savings and set yourself up for the retirement you’ve always wanted. When you do finally give up the day job, you’ll have the freelance business to take with you and you’ll have gotten a head start in building yourself a client base.
Depending on the field in which you’ve worked, freelance services are often a great way to make use of your years of work experience as you enter into that next chapter of life. It’s a way to take your work experience with you and continue to make use of it even after you leave the day job behind and enter into retirement.
Here are a few of the main skill-based businesses that can earn you a lot of money in retirement:
I saw an article recently that said 90% of the data ever created had been created in the last two years. The internet has changed things so that everybody is a writer. With the click of a button, anyone with the desire to do so can publish an article, a blog post, a book, a press release. And while some of the people doing the publishing may not care to get their content in the best possible condition before publishing, a lot of them do. Depending on your skillset, there are a lot of ways to go about getting involved in that process and earn a bit of money through your editorial services.
Proofreading, the most basic and widely understood form of editing, is to act as the final stop before a piece of writing is sent out into the world. The proofreader makes sure no typos, spelling or grammatical errors, formatting issues, etc. have been left in the piece of writing along the way. This is a fantastic and easy way to get some retirement work.
Copyediting is similar to proofreading, but in addition to spelling and grammar, there is fact-checking involved, changes and suggestions are made for continuity and clarity, and questions of citations, references, copyrights, and fair use come into play.
Developmental editing, also called content editing or substantive editing, is less about the finer details and more about the bigger picture. Especially with longer form content, it’s helpful for a writer to have somebody working with them on organization, flow, clarity, and in some cases that it matches a certain established brand or voice.
Book Doctoring is an editorial service somewhere between developmental editing and ghostwriting that tends to be for experts who are not necessarily writers but who are looking to publish books on their topics of expertise. The job is to take the expert’s content, which they compile into the best manuscript they can, and to get it into publishable shape from there.
The downside to editing as a home business is that it’s not all that scaleable. You’ll be able to reach a point where you’re staying busy and not taking on many new clients, but once you get there, that will likely be where you stay. Still, providing editorial services can be a nice addition to your income and a good way to supplement your retirement.
Like editing, there are a number of ways to get involved with writing content for the internet as a means to make money online. In the information age, people are writing more than ever before, but they’re also reading more than ever before, and if you’re looking to put some of your expertise in writing and get it earning money for you in retirement, there are a number of shapes that a writing business could take.
Copywriting, or business writing, is the writing of advertising materials created to help sell a product or service. Even if you don’t have any experience with copywriting, there is a wealth of information available on the subject, and in a time when more people than ever are starting their own businesses, a good copywriter offers an invaluable service for businesses and individuals looking to grow their brands online.
Web page content is also a valuable form of writing today. With so many web-based businesses, blogs, and news organizations, if you’re the type of person who enjoys researching and writing about new topics, you can earn some extra income in retirement by selling your services out to various businesses that need to stay relevant by putting out new content. You could also work within one topic on which you already have a wealth of information, but if you want to do that, you should really think about building your own site instead of selling your work to others, because the scalability is obviously much higher if the brand you’re building up is your own.
Book Writing and Authorship
Book writing is also a much more accessible business than it used to be, with self publishing becoming increasingly doable and new small press publishers entering the scene constantly. If you’ve gained enough expertise in a skill or trade, maybe it’s time to think about putting all that knowledge into a book. The great thing about book writing as opposed to article writing is that passive income continues to trickle in long after the actual work of writing the book is done.
Music or Language Lessons
Do you know how to play an instrument? Could you help somebody else learn? If you already have experience teaching your instrument, great. If not, ask yourself if you have the patience and temperament to work with people on such a thing in an online environment.
In most cases, the income you earn from teaching music online isn’t going to be as high as the income you earn from a lot of other home businesses I’m going into here, but for those looking for a smaller and more enjoyable way to supplement their income, this can be a nice setup. After all, you presumably got into playing music because it was something you deeply enjoyed doing, and reach a place in retirement where you’re actually earning money for playing music could be a nice way your time in retirement.
There are different forms that online music lessons can take. You could tutor students individually through video calls, though you’ll be limited by the number of hours in the day. You could also create an e-course or a series of videos, or do a combination of several. A lot of the limitations that exist in a classroom setting don’t apply online, and as you build up your student base, you’ll be able to pick and choose which forms you want your lessons to take and which students you do and don’t want to work with.
Much of this can be applied to language lessons as well. If you’re bilingual, maybe you want to think about teaching beginner lessons in either or both of your spoken languages for people wanting to learn the other one, but even if you only speak one language, you can work with mid- to advanced-level students who are learning English (or any other language) as a second language, and as a native speaker, you’ll have plenty to teach them. Even better if you have enough business knowledge to be comfortable teaching business English to young professionals in foreign countries looking to work with international markets. There can be good money in it, and you can do it all through online video calls or build up lessons in other mediums the same way you can with music.
One thing that all of these business ideas have in common, and in fact it’s something that almost all businesses of any kind have in common today, is that they need a website. Nearly anyone looking to make money online needs a website, and nearly anyone making money offline could still benefit from having one.
Website development is one of those things you can get started in learning very quickly and can continue to learn for as long as you want. It only takes a small amount of knowledge to have real value to a lot of people looking to build websites, and the more knowledge you accumulate, the more potential there is to earn real money from doing it.
You can find courses everywhere that teach you the language of website development. Naturally, they’re all over the web. While setting up, say, a blog is fairly simple task, once you start working on sites where you’re building shopping carts, search systems, dealing with security concerns, or any number of other things, you become increasingly specialized and able to earn more. Different companies will have different needs. In some cases maybe they need a developer who is an expert in aesthetic. In other cases, maybe the look can be simple but they require a large, searchable database. You can play to your own strengths and interests in developing specific areas to carve out your niche.
The skills you use in web design can also translate to other services that you might consider branching out into. On the aesthetic side of things, you could consider offering logo, brochure, or business card design, or designing book covers for authors and publishers getting ready to release. On the more technical side, you might consider branching out into areas like social media marketing, managing online ad campaigns, sites that ongoing maintenance, and general services as a virtual assistant. Any of those services can help to bring in some extra money, but many of them also open up the possibility of working with many of the same clients month-after-month.
You might also enjoy this giant list of over-50 entrepreneurs who do retirement work online.
Summary of our Ultimate Guide to Retirement Work at Home
You’ve probably noticed that all of the online retirement work you can do after 50 that I have mentioned here are business ideas that can be done from anywhere. I believe that the online business model is essential to offer you maximal freedom in your retirement, allowing you to make your living regardless of where you decide to spend your days. As long as your income is from a web-based business, you can take it with you anywhere. If you want to live abroad, you can.
The important thing to remember is that retirees have options. You need more than social security, a pension and medicare to make a quality retirement for yourself. The internet is a gold mine with opportunities to be found all over if you know where to look. You don’t need to feel stuck with your social security income. You’ve accumulated knowledge and skills throughout your life, and there are ways of spinning it into a business that builds you a comfortable retirement.
Regardless of what background you’re coming from, what skills you’ve worked to develop, and what your goals are for retirement, I firmly believe that there is a business plan that’s a perfect fit for you and will create the financial security you need. Check out our article to all Hopefully, even if none of these are a perfect fit, I’ve gotten some wheels turning in your head in the direction of a plan that will suit your situation. Always remember that while a new endeavor can look daunting from the outside, the experiences you’ve accumulated throughout your life and your career will give you a head start in many of the aspects involved with starting a home business as a senior. Once you get past the initial hurdles of getting started, your retirement work is going to afford you incredible freedom and benefits in retirement.