Today's 60-year-old is the last generation's 50-year-old. Many 60-year-olds are opening new small businesses instead of retiring. In many cases, they are starting ventures they always dreamed about. Although it is a challenge to start a business at any time, opening one in your retirement years makes you face even more obstacles, such as funding, affordable health insurance and succession planning. Younger entrepreneurs can make mistakes and lose money, but it is a different story when you are in your 60s.
Meet with representatives of Counselors to America's Small Business, most often known as SCORE, for guidance before launching any business. These are older men and women who have already been successful with businesses and can help you know what questions to ask, where to look for opportunities and how to put together a plan for a shorter time period. In most cases, plan a business you know well. Seriously consider buying another business that is already successful or going with a franchise or as an affiliate.
Decide how much you are willing to risk. This is one of the most important questions that an older entrepreneur needs to ask when developing a business. Some people are willing to lose a specified amount of money. Others want a very low-risk business where they know their retirement savings will be as secure as possible. Borrow only the absolute necessary capital required or look into loans from the Small Business Administration. Do not go the route of a personal guarantee or a second mortgage without recognizing the high risk.
Calculate how much savings you require to retire. Put this amount aside when starting your new venture. Anything more than this amount can be used for starting your business.
Structure the business to best protect your personal assets. Forming a corporation or a limited liability will protect your assets from any claims against your firm. If you decide to be a sole proprietor or partner, then recognize the greater risk you have to your personal income if you go bankrupt, are faced with a lawsuit or have a claim against the business.
Put health-care concerns at the top of your list. If you are over 65, Medicare is an option. If you are under 65, you definitely need to factor the cost of health insurance into your business plan. You may want to consider buying a high-deductible plan for business entrepreneurs through AARP, a small-business organization or the chamber of commerce. Yet, even individuals who are in the best of health should not go without insurance when starting a business.
Plan the amount of time and energy you are willing to commit to your new ventures. For some seniors, part time is enough. Others want to work on a full-time basis as long as they possibly can. Over-age-60 entrepreneurs must decide from the very beginning how long they expect to operate their business if all goes well. It is important to have a very detailed exit strategy, including how to end the business, sell it or give it to a younger family member.