Should You Start A Business in Retirement?

Updated: Oct 15, 2020


Retirement is being reinvented. It's no longer just retiring and doing some travel, but it's about a new phase of life! A phase that can be a dream, or a nightmare.

Some retirees may choose to start, open, or buy a business and run it as their preferred way to spend their retirement years. That can be a dream, or a nightmare, particularly if you are using your retirement funds to pay for the start up costs and payroll for a period of time.

I don't watch a lot of "reality TV", but I do enjoy some of the business reality shows and I have learned a lot from them. Travel Channel's "Hotel: Impossible" with Anthony Melchiorri, Food Network's "Restaurant: Impossible" with Robert Irvine, and Fox's "Kitchen Nightmares" and "Hotel Hell" with Gordon Ramsay are all shows we can learn various business lessons from.

I have watched most of these shows, and there's a bottom line that I can point to for success: If you've never been in that business, don't assume that it's going to be easy to do. Underestimating the risk and the job of running these businesses is how people become unfortunate or reluctant business owners with plenty of resentment.


This episode of Restaurant Impossible is about a well-meaning couple who wanted to buy a restaurant for their son. They paid $1,000,000 for the restaurant back in 1992! But their 48-year old son showed a history of a lack of commitment, so they don't trust him to run the business and repay them back for the restaurant. Is this a possibility if you start a "family business" in retirement?

Do you want to manage people, staffing, payroll? Sure, you might have some fun running a business, but can you manage people? Do you WANT to manage people in retirement? If you don't have a background in management, this could be disastrous!


This clip of Kitchen Nightmares shows that if expectations are not set and you don't "inspect what you expect"... problems with personnel will be inevitable. The kitchen staff LEFT, but reluctantly returned. Then when Chef Scot came in to help... it was turned around because of the right leader in the right place. If you have the RIGHT people in the right "seats on the bus", it can make ALL the difference! (I apologize for the language.)

There are many other shows and clips that we can learn from BEFORE opening the business enterprise. My best advice, is to make sure you go into a new business in retirement with your eyes wide open. It's not easy, and it will take time to learn and hours to work to make your business a success. Just because you have been complimented on your cooking and/or catering, does not mean that you're necessarily ready to open a successful business. Just because you enjoy being a host and keeping people at your home for a few days, doesn't necessarily mean you're ready to run a bed & breakfast, motel, or hotel. To do it well, and to do it right, it will take time, learning, and training before getting started.

I am not a business consultant. But the cost of finding & hiring a business consultant, or taking a quality business management class or two, would be FAR lower than tuition from the "school of hard knocks". Do the research. Consult with each other. Take your time, so that if you transition to owning a business, you're doing it from a place of strength, knowledge, and skill.

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