Friday, October 24, 2008

Why Starting a Business at Retirement Could Be a Bad Idea

Before you think I am crazy, you should know that I already wrote Starting a Business at Retirement is a Good Idea. To be fair and balanced, however, I have to share what I think is bad about starting a business at retirement.

Starting a business is a challenging proposition no matter how old you are. It takes energy, passion and a committment to 24-7 work. That might not be what you planned to do after retirement. If you can't see yourself waking up everyday prepared to work hard then maybe a business start-up is not for you.

Some of the things you need to think about?

Energy
If you do not have the energy to get-up-and-go, for whatever reason, do not think you are alone. You do not have to have health issues to just not have the drive to do long days anymore. Think about working part time rather than building a business. Starting a franchise does not make it easier, despite what you may have heard. As my big brother, an extraordinary entrepreneur, would say - buying a franchise is buying a job.

No time to make errors
Starting a business earlier in life means you might have several opportunities to recover from business errors. Several successful entrepreneurs started many enterprises before finding the right mix to succeed.

Learning curve
This is not to say that older people cannot learn or stay vibrant much later into life. This is not the case. Read my post about Paul Newman's career where he was driving race cars at 70 and producing TV shows at 80. Also read about the 73 year old college junior. Keep in mind we also have a candidate running for the US President at 72 years old. However, having said that, starting a new business, means you must be open, willing and able to learn new things and get new skills.

Set in your ways
Flexibility and adaptability are two key personal ingredients when starting a business. Many older people may be set in their ways and unwilling to change. This is not a bad thing, just a real thing. This is not just a reality for older workers. Inflexibility is an issue for younger people also when starting a business.

If you are sincerely interested in starting a business at retirement, make sure you mitigate the risk of losing your investment and your dream, by proceeding cautiously and only after doing honest self evaluation.

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