Great Time for Retirees to Start a Business

I retired from working full-time in 2005 at the age of 57. My 34-year career was mostly corporate, split between retailing and later a multi-national manufacturer. My last three years of fully engaged work was on a college campus.

The writing, research and travel necessary to support this blog, my monthly newsletter and my consultation with clients (free) became my retirement gig. I worked long hours during my career, but there have been some days during retirement that I have worked even harder. And I wouldn’t trade the activity of the last 15 years for a rocking chair and a daily round of golf – at least not while I am still compos mentis.

I bring this up because this morning I read a column by David Brooks of the New York Times that got my attention and made me wish I was 10 years younger and able to take on the challenge of a new business. Alas…

Brooks’ point is that the consequences of the pandemic will change the country’s economic fortunes, most likely for the better – with what he called a “Renaissance” and described as an “economic boom and social revival.

I forwarded the article to my working age children and their spouses because the underlying point is that opportunities abound for those with the imagination and energy to take advantage. Many of those opportunities will be related to in-country migration as millions of jobs need to be filled, as employees are told they can remain home to work remotely, and as the wealthy Baby Boomer generation – mine – continues to drive major segments of the economy, particularly real estate and healthcare. The new and younger at-home employees will want more space in their homes for an office – or extra bedrooms for the children they would have deferred because of childcare expenses (but now they can watch them while they work).

My fellow Baby Boomers are not going to give up on their plans for retirement, no matter the costs to build a home nor the incredibly slim inventories of homes for sale that have brought back bidding wars in many areas. We are not a generation deterred by obstacles that get in the way of self-actualization. And using our mental talents, even in the face of aging, is the very definition of self-actualization.

A “comfortable” retirement can have different meanings for different people. For some, it is a round of golf virtually every day, a rocking chair and a cocktail at 5 pm. For others, it is continual stimulation, mental and physical – and, maybe, a cocktail at 5 pm.

A year after I fully retired, in 2006, I played golf with my former boss. He asked me if I missed anything about my corporate job. “Yes,” I answered reflexively. “A secretary.” Now, 15 years later, my answer would be different. What I really miss, and have tried to make up for in retirement, was the energy of working on projects and developing new programs. Today’s retirees – and indeed young’uns with imagination and the desire to build something -- have many great, untapped opportunities ahead of them.