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Retirement has been a long time coming. Is it finally time to work for myself?

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all version of retirement. Some take a more relaxed approach to it; for others, retirement represents a new chapter of career opportunity — and perhaps even starting a business for the first time.

Running a small business in one’s later years is not all that uncommon. One survey found that 54% of American small businesses are run by people over 50, and 21% are run by people over 60. Another study found that small businesses with founders aged 55 and up are less likely to fail than those started by younger people.

Where to start

If starting a new business in retirement sounds appealing to you, there are a few things to consider before taking the leap. First of all, you’ll need to do your homework. Whatever type of business you’re considering, there is most likely research available to help you better understand the current market conditions. Connecting with local trade groups or economic development organizations can be a great resource for this kind of information.

It's also a good idea to talk to others who have started their own small businesses. Even if their business is very different from what you have in mind, they can help you gain a sense of what to expect as you’re getting your business off the ground. Your local chamber of commerce can be a great place to start if you don’t already know any entrepreneurs.

Ideally, your business would connect with your skills and passions. Starting a new business may require long hours and any number of unforeseen challenges; if it’s related to your interests and you know how to do well, you’ll be more likely to stick it out. After all, these are your retirement years we’re talking about — you’ll want to spend them doing work that you find satisfying and will put you in a better position to succeed.

Build your plan

With all this information in mind, take the time to develop a business plan. There are plenty of resources online to help you through this process, but this is another area where it can be helpful to talk with people who have created their own small business plans.

If you don’t have a good network of people to consult, building one is a necessity. Online research is helpful, but other small business owners in your community can help you with everything from navigating local ordinances to building your customer base. Getting good at using social media is another important form of networking — it will help you build an audience and keep you connected with the community.

When it comes to getting advice from other business owners, don’t rule out talking with people younger than you. You might have more experience, but they may have great insights into today’s marketplace and making the most of newer technologies and social media that can help jumpstart your business. There’s a good chance they may also benefit from the wisdom and perspective you’ve developed in your own career.

From a financial standpoint, starting a new business from scratch can obviously be a costly investment. You’ll want to make sure you’re taking a smart approach to your finances. Keep in mind that new businesses can sometimes take a while to start turning a profit; you’ll need to have a plan for how you’re going to finance your business until it does. A good financial advisor can help you navigate this process and ensure you have enough to get your business started without depleting your nest egg.

Perhaps the most important advice to follow is this: whatever you do in retirement, enjoy it. As you embark on this new chapter of your life, embrace the challenge of entrepreneurship with optimism and determination. Remember, retirement is not merely the end of one chapter — it’s the beginning of a fulfilling and enriching journey. So make it worth your while.

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