10 Business Ideas for Retirees: Starting a Second Career in Your Golden Years

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By Jacob Maslow

Retirement does not always mean the same thing for all people. For some, it’s an opportunity to enjoy their home, family, and travels. Then again, others feel they have the wisdom and knowledge to share while earning a side income, but with more flexibility.

2023 Working Retirement Trends

Over the past few decades, Americans have seen a noticeable shift in the average retirement age. In 1986, the average retirement age for men was about 62 and for women about 57. By 2016, these numbers had risen to approximately 65 for men and 63 for women. This trend towards later retirement has been driven by several factors, including changes in Social Security incentives, employer pensions, better education and health, less strenuous jobs, and the decline in retiree health insurance.

As the average retirement age continues to rise, so does the number of Americans choosing to work between the ages of 65 to 74. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020, 10.6 million people aged 65 and older were in the workforce. Among this group, 26.6% of those aged 65 to 74 worked, while 8.9% of those aged 75 and older were employed. This increase in labor force participation is expected to continue, particularly among the oldest segments of the population.

While some retirees return to traditional employment, many opt for the flexibility and autonomy of starting their businesses. A 2019 Inside Small Business Survey revealed that 65% of Americans polled expressed interest in opening a business upon retiring. Retirees often bring significant experience, capital, and personal networks to their startup efforts, which can contribute to the success of their ventures.

Starting a business during retirement can offer numerous benefits, such as supplementing retirement savings, reducing tax bills, improving mental and physical health, and pursuing entrepreneurial dreams. Additionally, continuing to earn income during retirement can delay the need to draw down retirement account balances or help bridge the gap until Social Security benefits can be maximized at age 70.

Despite the growing trend of working beyond the traditional retirement age, it is essential for individuals to carefully consider their financial needs, personal goals, and desired lifestyle when deciding whether to continue working or start a business during retirement. With proper planning and consideration, retirees can successfully navigate this new phase of life and enjoy the benefits of pursuing their passions and interests while maintaining financial security and leveraging available resources for senior citizens.

Starting your own business in retirement can be a great way to supplement your income and enjoy the autonomy of working on something you’re passionate about. For retirees looking for inspiration, here are some popular business ideas to consider:

10 Business Ideas Ideal for Retirees

If you feel like starting a second career in your golden years, here are 10 business ideas for you as a retiree.

1.     Consulting Services

Consulting remains one of the top business activities for retirees. It allows you to base your business on the expertise you developed in your industry while letting you dictate your rates and working hours.

Some professionals that can naturally slip into a consulting business include finance, business management, HR, law, marketing, and medicine.

Depending on the scale of your experience, your consulting business allows you to help businesses. However, you can also mentor individuals entering your industry. If you were already consulting before retiring, you only have to cut back your working hours.

2.     Turn Your Hobby into a Business

Whether you have taken up a hobby after retirement or have always had one, it provides an excellent opportunity to create and sell your crafts.

With this small business idea, you need to use your creative and business talent, but websites like Etsy, Facebook Market, or Craigslist make it easy to access a vast market to sell your crafts. You can also sell your items to other shopkeepers at farmers’ markets and festivals or create a small shop for you and other hobbyists to sell your crafts.

Some popular crafts include T-shirt printing, home décor, jewelry, doll making, art, embroidery, quilts, and 3D-printed ornaments. However, these aren’t the only craftspeople who buy. Other popular crafts include woodwork, metal designs, catering, and cakes for special occasions.

Social media and word-of-mouth are the ideal way to advertise your business, so you won’t need to spend money on marketing.

3.     Dropshipping Business

Dropshipping is a great way to enter the retail business from home. Your online store sells products to others without involving you in holding stock or fulfilling orders. Look for dropshipping suppliers online, select the products you want to sell, mark them accordingly, create a website that showcases your products, and market them.

Customers order from your online store; you pass the order on to your supplier, who then ships it to the buyer. Look for products that are currently in demand or have a demand potential with sustainable profit markings.

Dropshipping has an excellent potential income without requiring a considerable time commitment. In addition, your startup costs are low because you don’t hold stock; you only need a website and marketing.

4.     Pet Care Services and Products

Pet owners are increasing, meaning you can provide several services and products that will help make their lives easier. One condition, you must like animals and get on with their owners. Think of services like dog walking, pet grooming, pet daycare, or a pet hotel.

Products you could supply include pet accessories, homemade pet feeds, and a regular pet feed distribution service.

Depending on the pet care business you want to start, your expenses can range from zero for dog walking to quite a bit more if you create an area for pet daycare. However, it remains profitable since dog walkers typically charge up to $30 for a half-hour walk. Of course, the more dogs you can walk, the better, but you can also employ others to help you.

5.     Plants Business

Many people find it difficult to grow plants from seeds and prefer buying seedlings or fully-grown plants. However, if you have a green thumb, start a nursery at home to sell plants to the public or local businesses. When you can grow plants from seedlings or cuttings, your profit margin increases since you only need soil and water to raise them. You could also grow your business by selling compost, flowers, and leasing plants. With leasing, you charge a monthly rental fee and care for the plants.

6.     Real Estate Investor

You will need capital to invest in real estate, but it can generate a good source of income. Most people approaching retirement age already have at least one paid-off property. If you’re considering downsizing, you could use the extra money from the sale to invest in another property. However, you could also put your existing property to good use by considering short-term rentals.

If you have some capital or a good credit history, you can invest in one of several real estate types.

House flipping (buying cheap, fixing, and re-selling), a rental investment property, or short-term rental investment (Airbnb).

With flipping houses, you must put in some effort and money, but you make a more significant profit than rental investing over a shorter term.

With short-term rental investing, you either buy a property to rent out to tourists or rent out an attic, basement, room, or cottage on your property through sites like Airbnb, Booking, Vbro, etc.

7.     Become a Franchisee

If you want to own your own business after retirement, but don’t want the hassle of meeting the challenges, then franchising is the way to go.

A franchise provides a well-known brand’s guidance, expertise, and national marketing in exchange for a franchise fee and royalties.

You have a ready flow of customers, and the franchisee provides the training, ensures a steady supply chain, and provides a business plan. However, they aren’t cheap to start because you must lease or buy the space, purchase the equipment, and hire employees. As the owner, your responsibility is to get the business up and running, and a manager will do the rest, meaning it won’t take much of your time.

Franchise business range from fast foods like KFC and Subway to anything else, including convenience stores, hardware stores, gyms, and hotels.

8.     Tutoring Business

Retired educators can continue tutoring from home or online with a tutoring center or alone. Depending on your experience, location, and the type of tutoring, you can create a profitable business that can make anything between $25 and $80 an hour. Of course, the more well-versed you are, the more you can charge, especially for SAT and other test preparations.

9.     Become a Writer

Writing has no age limit and can bring in an excellent income if you have a way with words. So whether you want to self-publish your book, ghostwrite, start blogging, create a newsletter, or start a content or copywriting business, writing creates a wonderful opportunity for a second career.

10.  Create Courses

Use your previous work experiences to create an online course to help train others. Your course method can include content and training videos that you incorporate into a website you sell to businesses or individuals. Your startup costs include your website and marketing.

Final Take

Baby boomers have led the way as the generation that refuses to retire. Instead, they have embraced entrepreneurship and shown the coming generations that starting a career in our golden age is better than just sitting around.


What are some good business ideas for retirees?

Some good business ideas for retirees include starting a consulting business, teaching classes or workshops, becoming a real estate investor, becoming a franchisee, starting a tutoring business, writing books and articles, creating courses, and offering home services like lawn care or dog walking.

Is it realistic to start a new career after retirement?

Yes! Starting a new career after retirement is possible and can provide you with an excellent source of income and fulfillment. There are many different types of businesses that you can get involved in, as well as skills you can learn to become competitive in the job market again.

Doing your research and finding something that works for you is essential.

What are the best small business ideas for retirees?

The best small business ideas for retirees include starting a consulting business, teaching classes or workshops, becoming a real estate investor, becoming a franchisee, starting a tutoring business, writing books and articles, creating courses, and offering home services like lawn care or dog walking. Retirees can also get involved in blogging, craft making or selling handmade items online.

How much money do I need to start a business after retirement?

The money you need to start a business after retirement depends on the type of business you want to pursue. You won’t need much start-up capital for certain companies, such as consulting or teaching classes. However, if you become a franchisee or start a tutoring business, you may need more money to get started. It is essential to research the type of business you are interested in and determine how much it will cost upfront.

Do I need any special qualifications to start a business after retirement?

The qualifications needed to start a business after retirement will depend on the type of business you want to pursue. Many companies require previous experience or specialized knowledge. For example, becoming a real estate investor requires some industry knowledge, while starting a consulting firm requires prior experience as an executive. Depending on your interests, it is essential to research what qualifications are needed to start your business.

What should I consider before starting a business after retirement?

Before starting a business after retirement, it is essential to consider your interests and skill set. You should also evaluate any start-up costs associated with the type of business you want to pursue and the time and effort it will take to get started. Additionally, researching any regulations or laws related to the type of business you are interested in can help clarify whether or not this is an avenue worth pursuing. Finally, considering how much income you might be able to generate from your new venture can help inform your decision on whether or not this is a good fit for you.

What are the benefits of starting a business after retirement?

Starting a business after retirement can give you a sense of satisfaction and purpose. Additionally, it can help keep your skills sharp while providing an extra source of income. Finally, being an entrepreneur allows you to make decisions and control your career path. It is a great way to stay engaged in meaningful work and keep yourself busy during retirement.

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