Saturday, May 17, 2014


In my previous post, I wrote about age discrimination in the job market. Reality bites you hard when employers pass you over for someone younger and cheaper. But having said that, a day will come when employers will have no alternative but to hire older workers due to demographic changes. The young labor force will continue to shrink while the number of older workers will see a surge as life expectancy increases, and birth rate declines.

That scenario is not too far off. In the meantime, age discrimination remains an issue for those aged 50 and above seeking re-employment.

Source: New York Times, Feb 7, 2014

If no employer wants to hire you, hire yourself. Be your own boss. Start a small business with your retirement savings. Be an entrepreneur. This is your chance to realize your dream, to pursue what you enjoy doing as a hobby. Start with your passion, your skills, your wealth of experience. What drives you? What are you good at? That should give you an idea of what business or enterprise you want to get into.

Money should not be the sole driving force. Equally if not more important is the service or product you provide. You can't go wrong if you offer quality and customer care. Differentiate your business from your competitors so that your brand, your company is the preferred choice. Always think of how you can bring value to your customers for the money they pay you. That should be your business philosophy.

Home-based businesses are hugely popular with retirees. I know of lady friends who turn their love of baking into a profitable business. They operate from their kitchen, and promote their cakes and cookies through social media. During festive seasons, they can barely cope with the deluge of orders.

Source: Older Entrepreneurs Are Better Than Younger Ones in Forbes.

Some of my retired men friends put their years of work experience to good use by starting a consultancy. Many are financial or IT consultants. I daresay this is the most popular of all business ventures for retirees - setting up your own consultancy or online business. Capital outlay is small, and overheads are minimal if it is just you and one staff in the office, which could also be your home.

Find a niche market. If you love teaching, offer computer classes for seniors. Teach them to use social media for social networking and for promoting their businesses. Seniors learn at a slower pace, and will welcome classes on any subject that cater specially to them.

More and more people are starting a business later in life. Source: The Guardian

You could also brand yourself as a professional speaker in your area of expertise. Or a trainer. Conducting workshops can be a viable business. One word of caution. Do not put your money into a business you know next to nothing about just because you have attended a seminar, for example, on "How to reap $million in forex trading".

The more ambitious among my friends have bought land with their retirement savings and started home-stays in the countryside. Those with more funds (and energy) to invest have taken up organic farming.

HS Wong (centre) started DQ Farm in 1991. Today his farm supplies organic vegetables, fruits and chicken to health foods outlets in the Klang Valley. Photo: visitors enjoying organic fruits grown on DQ farm. Click here for more images.

Avoid going into any venture that is capital or labour intensive, unless you have an appetite for risk-taking. Restaurants are a good example. If people like your food, you will have long queues outside your restaurant. Your cash registers will go ka-ching all day long. If your food sucks, even flies see no reason to patronize your restaurant. And your business (or lack of) will bleed you dry.

If start-up funds is not an issue, and you love a challenge, you might want to go where few dare to venture. I am referring to businesses that target older adults as their market. What do we need that we can't find easily? Satisfy that demand, and you stand to profit from it.

Good friends who have created a niche in the retail
business of fashion and food. Click here to read more.
Retail businesses are another example. Older adults have a hard time shopping for clothes. Most fashion retailers cater mainly to the younger age groups. Other examples - we love to travel, and it is only in the last decade that travel agencies have started special tour packages for seniors.

In the fitness industry, gyms that offer work-out sessions for seniors will likely see their membership numbers going up. What about cafes with book clubs? Seniors love reading, but there are few such cafes where they can meet and discuss books they have read.

Retirement resorts and retirement homes are lucrative businesses if managed well. The market for such residences is expanding rapidly. Setting up a retirement home is not that difficult. Already many retirees have jumped on the bandwagon and converted old bungalows into retirement homes for active and independent retirees who do not want to live alone.

A bungalow converted into a cozy retirement home.

So if you can't find a decent job because you are considered too old to be employed, it is not the end of the world. You can always BE YOUR OWN BOSS. Where there is a will to be successful, there will always be a way. You just have to find it.

For tips on deciding which business is right for you, and to read some success stories, click on the links below:

Deciding on a Business

Rise of the grey entrepreneur: meet the over-50s starting their own businesses 

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