17 Great Business Ideas as a Second Career

second career

As the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age, some may be interested in starting a second career as business owners. There are plenty of entrepreneurial opportunities out there for people looking to start a business as a second career. Below are some ideas for businesses you can start after retirement.

Our Methodology: Second Career Business Ideas

Choosing business ideas for a second career involves considering opportunities that leverage existing experience while offering new challenges and fulfillment. Here’s the methodology we used to evaluate potential business opportunities for those seeking a second career:

Leveraging Prior Experience and Skills (Rating: 9/10)

We prioritized business ideas that utilize the individual’s existing skills and professional experience. This approach ensures a smoother transition and can provide a competitive edge in the new venture.

Low to Moderate Investment (Rating: 8/10)

Given that individuals seeking a second career might not want to invest heavily, we focused on ideas with low to moderate startup costs, reducing financial risk and making it more feasible to start.

Work-Life Balance and Flexibility (Rating: 8/10)

We considered business ideas that offer flexibility in terms of working hours and commitments. This is particularly important for individuals who are looking for a better work-life balance in their second career.

Growth Potential and Scalability (Rating: 7/10)

The potential for growth and scalability was an important factor. We looked for business ideas that offer the possibility of expansion or diversification, allowing for long-term development and success.

Alignment with Personal Interests and Passions (Rating: 8/10)

Aligning the business with personal interests and passions is crucial for long-term satisfaction. We selected ideas that match the individual’s hobbies, interests, or areas they’re passionate about exploring.

Market Demand and Economic Viability (Rating: 8/10)

Assessing market demand and the economic viability of the business idea is critical. We focused on ideas that cater to current market needs and have a clear path to profitability.

Minimal Need for Additional Training (Rating: 7/10)

We considered the extent of additional training or education required. Business ideas that can be pursued with minimal additional training or that allow for learning on the job were preferred.

Second Career Business Ideas

Open a Restaurant Franchise

Since baby boomers tend to have a bit more money than younger entrepreneurs, franchise ownership can be an attractive option. While there is some up front cost involved to buy into a popular franchise, the process can be easier than building a business from the ground up. So you can save time early on in your business journey and focus right away on building profits.

Offer Consulting Services

Throughout your first career, you very well may have developed some skills or knowledge that could help others just getting started in your field. In those cases, a consulting business may be the right fit for you. For example, if you spent most of your career working in marketing for another company, you can now begin to offer marketing consulting services to others. This allows you to share all of the knowledge you’ve gleaned through the years, while still maintaining the flexibility of working for yourself and on your own schedule.

Business Ideas as a Second Career

Become a Dog Breeder

If you have some space at home and a love of dogs, you might consider a second career as a dog breeder. It takes a lot of work to care for animals, along with some training or licensing depending on your location. But if you enjoy working with dogs and have a lot of knowledge about the care involved, you can run this type of business right from your home.

Sell Items on eBay

Whether you’ve collected a lot of items through the years or just enjoy the process of buying and selling, you can make a career of selling items on eBay or similar websites. Collectibles, antiques and plenty more categories are popular on eBay. So they can command pretty high prices. You can either sell the items that you already own, or scour flea markets and antique stores for items that you could sell for higher prices later on.

Become a Professional Speaker

You’ve likely gained some expertise in your area of work over the course of your first career. And you can share all of that knowledge or even inspiration to others as a professional speaker. Plenty of businesses and organizations hire speakers for various events. It could even be a great way to travel to different places during retirement.

Business Ideas as a Second Career

Write eBooks

This is another way you can potentially share the knowledge you’ve gained through the years. If you have expertise on any topic that people are interested in, you can write a book (or books) and fairly easily self publish on platforms like Amazon. You can even find tools and publishers to get hard copies of your book to sell in various venues.

Offer Music Lessons

If you have any musical expertise, whether it’s playing an instrument or using your voice, you may be able to make a second career out of offering music lessons. If you have the space and equipment, this is even something you can do out of your home. And since you’re the business owner in charge, you can schedule as many or as few lessons per week as you’d like.

Sell Handmade Items

Handmade businesses have grown in popularity in recent years. For those who are looking to start businesses later in life, a handmade business can be a great option since it doesn’t take much time to get one off the ground. You mainly just need a product to sell. Then you can use online platforms like Etsy, sell your items at craft fairs or flea markets or even sell them wholesale to local retailers.

Business Ideas as a Second Career

Plan Events

Event planning can also be a fun career for people of any age. If you enjoy organizing and reaching out to different vendors and working with clients, event planning is a business you can start pretty much right away. It can be a particularly good choice if you’ve built up a sizeable network of people from local venues, vendors and potential clients over the course of your first career.

Offer Golf Coaching Services

Golfing is a hugely popular retirement activity. So if it’s something you enjoy, and are relatively good at, why not start a business to share your skills and expertise with others? You can reach out to local courses and pro shops to make yourself known and offer your services to relevant customers.

Decorate Homes for Clients

Golfing is a hugely popular retirement activity. So if it’s something you enjoy, and are relatively good at, why not start a business to share your skills and expertise with others? You can reach out to local courses and pro shops to make yourself known and offer your services to relevant customers.

Manage Rental Properties

This is another option for aspiring entrepreneurs who have access to a pretty sizeable amount of capital up front. You can invest in some homes or rental properties and then find tenants and manage the properties as a business. This may require some knowledge about repairs or property law. Or you could always hire professionals to take care of those aspects for you.

Open a Bed and Breakfast

If you don’t feel like managing multiple properties, you can also consider running a bed and breakfast out of your home. This requires some licensing. But the main things you need are just a spaces for guests and some basic hospitality and cooking skills.

Business Ideas as a Second Career

Become an Investor

If you have some capital and resources but don’t necessarily want to start an entire business from the ground up, you might consider becoming an investor in other businesses. You can start a fund or venture firm with any funds you’ve saved through the years. You might even consider partnering with other contacts you’ve made through the years to offer even more investment opportunities to the next generation.

Alter Clothing

If you know how to sew and perform other basic alteration tasks, you can start a business offering alteration services out of your home. This doesn’t require much to get started, so it’s perfect for entrepreneurs who have this skill set and are looking for a second career as a business owner. In addition, you can control how much work you take on and even do the majority of the work out of your home easily.

Offer Landscaping Services

For those who enjoy working outside, landscaping might be a second career business opportunity to consider. You’ll likely need to purchase some equipment up front. But you can offer a variety of different services ranging from basic lawn maintenance to gardening and even really intricate landscaping design.

Open a Farm Stand

And for those aspiring entrepreneurs who enjoy growing or making their own food, opening a farm stand is a quick and easy option for a second career. You can sell your food items at local farmers markets or even your own roadside stand.

Navigating Challenges: Starting a Second Career Business in Retirement

While the prospect of launching a second career business in retirement can be exciting, it’s important to acknowledge and address the unique challenges that may arise along the way. Successfully transitioning from a traditional career to entrepreneurship requires careful planning and consideration. Here’s a look at some potential challenges retirees may face and strategies for overcoming them.

Challenges and Strategies

  1. Financial Considerations: Funding a new business venture can be a concern, especially after retirement. Assess your financial situation, set a clear budget, and explore funding options such as personal savings, retirement accounts, or small business loans.
  2. Learning Curve: Embracing new technologies and industry trends may pose a learning curve. Invest time in acquiring necessary skills, attending workshops, and seeking guidance from mentors or experts.
  3. Work-Life Balance: Balancing the demands of a new business with retirement activities can be challenging. Define boundaries and create a schedule that allows you to pursue both your entrepreneurial dreams and personal interests.
  4. Market Competition: Entering a competitive market requires a unique value proposition. Identify your strengths and differentiators to stand out in your chosen industry.
  5. Health and Wellness: Entrepreneurship can be demanding. Prioritize self-care by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting regular check-ups, and managing stress effectively.
  6. Networking and Support: Building a professional network in a new industry may be essential. Attend industry events, join relevant associations, and connect with fellow entrepreneurs to gain insights and support.
  7. Legal and Regulatory Matters: Navigating legal requirements and regulations can be complex. Consult with professionals to ensure compliance with licenses, permits, and other legal obligations.
  8. Time Management: Efficiently managing your time between your business and personal life is crucial. Prioritize tasks, delegate where possible, and use tools to streamline processes.
  9. Adapting to Change: The business landscape evolves rapidly. Stay adaptable and open to adjusting your strategies based on market shifts and customer feedback.
  10. Family Considerations: Discuss your business plans with family members, as your new venture may impact your time and resources. Ensure their support and understanding.

Strategies for Success

  • Thorough Research: Conduct thorough market research to understand your target audience, competition, and industry trends before launching your business.
  • Business Plan: Develop a detailed business plan outlining your goals, strategies, financial projections, and contingency plans.
  • Seek Expert Advice: Consult with professionals such as lawyers, accountants, and business consultants to navigate legal, financial, and operational aspects.
  • Start Small: Begin with a manageable scope, gradually expanding as you gain confidence and experience.
  • Continuous Learning: Commit to ongoing learning to stay relevant in your chosen industry. Attend workshops, online courses, and conferences.
  • Networking: Build a strong network of industry contacts, mentors, and fellow entrepreneurs who can offer guidance and support.
  • Stay Agile: Embrace change and adapt your business strategies based on market feedback and evolving trends.
  • Delegate Wisely: Delegate tasks that are outside your expertise or that can be efficiently managed by others.
  • Financial Planning: Carefully manage your finances, considering both business expenses and personal retirement needs.
  • Enjoy the Journey: Remember that your second career business is an opportunity to pursue your passions and contribute to your community. Embrace the journey and celebrate small wins.
Thorough ResearchConduct comprehensive market research to gain insights into your target audience, analyze competitors, and understand industry trends. This knowledge forms the foundation for informed decision-making.
Business PlanCreate a detailed business plan that outlines your business goals, strategies, financial forecasts, and contingency plans. A well-structured plan provides clarity and guidance as you navigate your entrepreneurial journey.
Seek Expert AdviceCollaborate with professionals such as lawyers, accountants, and business consultants. Their expertise helps you navigate complex legal, financial, and operational aspects, ensuring compliance and setting a strong foundation.
Start SmallBegin with a manageable scope and gradually expand as you build confidence and experience. Avoid overextending yourself initially, allowing you to focus on establishing a strong foundation for your business.
Continuous LearningCommit to continuous learning to stay relevant in your chosen industry. Attend workshops, online courses, and conferences to keep up with evolving trends and enhance your expertise.
NetworkingBuild a robust network of industry contacts, mentors, and fellow entrepreneurs. These connections offer valuable guidance, support, and opportunities for collaboration as you navigate your business journey.
Stay AgileEmbrace change and remain flexible in your approach. Adapt your business strategies based on market feedback and emerging trends, ensuring your business remains relevant and responsive to evolving demands.
Delegate WiselyDelegate tasks that are beyond your expertise or can be efficiently managed by others. This allows you to focus on high-value activities that align with your strengths and contribute to your business's success.
Financial PlanningCarefully manage your finances, considering both business expenses and personal retirement needs. Budget wisely, monitor expenses, and ensure your business aligns with your financial goals and aspirations.
Enjoy the JourneyRemember that your second career business is an opportunity to follow your passions and make a positive impact. Embrace each step of your entrepreneurial journey, celebrating small victories along the way.

Starting a second career business in retirement is a rewarding endeavor that offers fulfillment and personal growth. By acknowledging potential challenges and implementing effective strategies, you can navigate this transition with confidence and success.


Image: Depositphotos.com

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.