Discover the benefits of a Career Change to a Lifestyle BusinessJun 03, 2010
by Jeremy Koch
photo by Ron
My friend Mark Miller, who is also a regular contributor to WhatsNext.com, recently published a book entitled "The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security." It is a terrific book, and I recommend it to anyone who is wrestling with plans for transitioning into retirement -- or semi-retirement -- or whatever it is we call the stage of life between our primary careers and the time when we stop working altogether.
One of the most interesting sections of the book is the chapter in which he talks about the growing trend among baby boomer of launching what he calls "lifestyle businesses." Lifestyle businesses are ventures that provide a steady (if modest) income stream, but which also allow their owners to mix work, play and other pursuits in a way that creates a more balanced and satisfying life than the typical corporate grind. Not a bad option if you can pull it off.
Trend watchers expect that lifestyle businesses are going to explode in numbers in the coming years. 58 million boomers intend to work well into their sixties, and with many employers cutting back staffing levels, there is no question that a lot of displaced corporate workers are going to be reinventing themselves by becoming entrepreneurs and by launching small businesses. Some will do this out of financial necessity, but many will do it out of choice - motivated by a desire to finally be their own boss or to pursue some passionate interest - while at the same time generating an income stream to supplement or build their retirement savings.
According to Miller, this trend has already started. In fact, Americans aged 55 to 65 are forming new businesses at the highest rate of any age group - 28% higher than the average for all age groups combined. And the business formation rate among people aged 45-54 is also above average.
While some lifestyle startups involve opening businesses in fields entirely different from the one where the owner spent the bulk of his/her career, many of these small startups are in the same industry that the owner came from, and in many cases serve their former employer in some way. Although they range in size, the typical lifestyle business is home-based enterprise with no fixed payroll, supported primarily with freelance and part-time help. And while some are funding with angel capital, most are bootstrapped into existence or self-funded with very modest investment - often less than $10,000.
Despite the fact that he calls these ventures "lifestyle businesses," Miller also points out that like any startup, they can require a willingness to work long hours with relatively little initial compensation, and are not without risk. But he also makes an interesting point by suggesting that establishing such a venture can be a hedge against the risk of being caught in a corporate layoff. The notion is that it can be better to be your own boss with your own diversified customer base than to be vulnerable to an unexpected corporate downsizing. And of course, the upside in terms personal satisfaction can be considerable if you are in fact able to make your own lifestyle business work.
Miller knows whereof he speaks. After spending most of his professional career working at large media companies, he went out on his own to start 50+Digital, LLC, a content and consulting company specializing in the 50-plus market.
To read more about lifestyle businesses, including several case studies and some very practical advice on how to start one, you can download Miller's chapter on lifestyle businesses as well as the table of contents to his new book.