Your business needs to fit your lifestyle.
As you plan your business, think about how it will fit into your life. For example, frequent travelers may do best with a business they can manage online rather than one that requires in-person work in a store or office. If you have caregiving responsibilities, you'll need backup in-home care some of the time so you can give work your full attention while your loved one is well looked after.
Your business has to give customers what they want.
Before you invest your post-retirement time in a new business, do some very thorough market research. Who will your customers be? Do they need the products or services you offer? Will they buy enough to allow you to earn a profit and grow your business? How will they find out about your business? What does the competition look like and how can you set yourself apart? Entrepreneur magazine has a step-by-step article on marketing research for new businesses if you're not already familiar with the process.
You need a business plan.
A basic business plan can help you clarify your goals, stay on track, and know when you're making progress. You'll also want a plan to wrap up your business when you're ready to "really" retire, whether that means closing it down, passing it over to a family member, or selling it to another entrepreneur.
The right support team can help your new business thrive.
Most sole proprietors don't go it truly alone. The successful ones seek out experienced mentors in their field, fellow small business owners for advice and resources, and yes, customers, because listening to them should be your first priority. If you're not sure how to go about finding a mentor, the U.S. Small Business Administration has a mentor program for small businesses.
You may need professionals, too. A bookkeeper and a CPA can help you avoid tax-time trauma. Your local bank or credit union can advise you on the best type of business account and payment processing options if you'll take credit and debit card payments. If you will rent space for your business, have an experienced commercial real estate attorney review the lease before you sign.
Finally, you'll want to get your family and friends on board to be supportive of your work, understanding of the changes in your schedule, and eager to let others know about your business.
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