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Entrepreneurship is the new “dream job” for older adults in the U.S., even after they retire. A recent survey from The UPS Store found that 54% of Americans would rather open a small business than retire, and the proportion of new entrepreneurs in the ages 55 to 65 cohort has increased faster than among people ages 25 to 35.
Working in retirement is not a new phenomenon. Some retirees and older adults have always decided to keep working past the traditional retirement age, whether it’s a few hours a week at a part-time job, solo consulting work or other ways to stay active and earn extra income. But for this new generation of retirees and older adults who are approaching retirement age, entrepreneurship in retirement can be a great way to take on a fun new challenge while making money with a flexible schedule, on your own terms.
Today’s generation of retiree entrepreneurs is often called “encore entrepreneurs” or “second act” entrepreneurs because they’re coming back to the workforce for one more appearance. Being a retiree entrepreneur can offer special satisfaction and financial rewards. Running an online business, like an ecommerce store, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) business, blog, mobile app or another digital asset, has become a popular new strategy for entrepreneurship in retirement.
But as an online business entrepreneur in retirement, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or start from zero. If you want to get your foot in the door with online business ownership, more retirees should consider the option of buying an online business. In the same way that some entrepreneurs might want to buy a franchise or purchase an existing business that already has a proven brand and strong foot traffic, buying an online business can be a cost-effective way for “encore entrepreneurs” to have a successful second act in retirement.
When I talk with entrepreneurs and investors around the world, we’re seeing strong interest in this space from older adults. In the past year, as I’ve attended industry conferences and done meetups in cities around the world, approximately 75% of people in the audience are in the ages 55 to 65+ cohort. Clearly, this age group is interested to learn more about online entrepreneurship. They see how buying an online business or digital asset could be a smart investment.
Here are a few big reasons why online business and retiree entrepreneurs are a natural fit — and why buying an online business could be the right strategy for your goals.
1. You get the lifestyle you want — and the income you need
Why do older adults often decide to work in retirement? Because they want to earn extra income on a flexible basis, without the all-consuming schedules and expectations of a full-time job. Buying an online business is a great fit for these goals.
If you want to earn extra money on your own terms, running an online business can deliver the return on your investment that you need, with a flexible schedule and the ability to work from anywhere. If you want to travel in retirement, split your time between seasonal homes or spend more time with grandchildren or other loved ones, running an online business can give you the freedom of being a digital nomad, not tied to any one location.
Why buy an existing online business, instead of starting your own business from scratch? Because when you buy an online business, you’re getting a built-in customer base, a known brand and reliable revenues. You’re getting a stronger foundation to build upon. This is another reason why buying an online business can be a perfect fit for older adult entrepreneurs — it helps you avoid the time-consuming struggle of finding new customers and building a brand.
2. They’re cost-effective investments of extra cash
Retirees sometimes have access to a lump sum of cash that they can use for investing in a new venture. Whether it’s an early retirement severance package from your last job, proceeds from the sale of a house after downsizing, an inheritance from a loved one or other windfalls, retirees are (hopefully) in a stage of life where they have some extra cash that could use a good purpose.
There are a few ways to invest extra cash. You can put it into a savings account, CD or money market account and barely earn enough interest to keep up with inflation. You could buy an investment property — but real estate inventory in most U.S. cities is limited right now due to rising interest rates — or you can invest cash in other asset categories, like the stock and bond markets, which can be risky and go up or down for reasons beyond your control.
But what if you could invest some extra cash in an online business — and invest in your own skills, talents, expertise and entrepreneurial energy? Buying an online business is a way of betting on yourself. Online businesses can deliver steady monthly cash flow to boost your retirement income, as well as a long-term appreciation of the asset price. And hopefully, with an online business that you’re passionate about in a niche you know well, you can achieve a bigger long-term ROI than other investment categories.
Related: 3 Tips for Buying an Online Business
3. They can be low-risk
Buying an online business doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy an online business, and you don’t have to bet your life savings on one single business idea. Unlike buying a franchise where you have to be part of that larger brand and follow its rules, running your own online business gives you the freedom to make your own choices, try new things and follow your own intuition. Unlike buying a brick-and-mortar business like a restaurant or retail store, online businesses tend to have limited overhead costs and big potential profit margins.
Choosing the right online business to buy depends on striking a balance between how much cash you want to invest upfront vs. how much time/expertise and additional cash you’re prepared to invest into the business as you manage for future growth.
For example, there are lots of online businesses (like ecommerce stores, mobile apps or revenue-generating content-based websites) that are for sale for as little as $5,000 to $10,000. If you’re willing to put in some effort to improve the performance of these businesses, with better content, higher customer retention, sharper SEO (search engine optimization), diversified sources of traffic and more precise advertising, you could boost the business’s monthly revenues and recoup your initial investment within a few months to a year.
Not every online business is an immediate slam-dunk moneymaker. Some online businesses require some extra help and careful management to reach their potential. But in general, if you’re a recent retiree or soon-to-be retiree who wants to earn extra income in retirement while keeping your entrepreneurial skills sharp, buying an online business could be the best strategy for you to get in the game. Buying an online business helps you save time and start selling to customers faster, without the growing pains of getting a new venture off the ground.