The Entrepreneur Retiree: A New Trend

Is this you?

  • You’ve worked hard your entire career and have enough financial security to retire.

  • You have a skill set you’d rather not put on a shelf to get dusty.

  • You have an idea that could become a business but you aren’t interested in doing it all yourself.

These are the typical characteristics that lead someone to follow a new retirement trend called “Retirement Entrepreneurship”. 

I’m not talking about people who are tired of working for someone else.  Most employees still do not have the best boss in the world and the idea of self-employment can be luring.  I’m not talking about boredom with your career.  We all get burned out at times and starting a business is a lot of work and time.  Giving up your salary and benefits 5-10 years before full retirement age could end your chances of retiring on time and securely.  I’m also not talking about turning your hobby into a business.  Keep your hobbies something pleasurable for you to enjoy in retirement.

I’m talking about folks who have great vision and are willing to put more money away before retirement so that they can pursue these ideas.  These are people that want to replace their current career identity with something new.  They want to be involved in the local business community and typically diversify their portfolio.  They want to create a new legacy after their career. 

Wilmington is a fantastic location to support this trend.  The influx of business acumen and intellectual capital that has moved to our area in the last 10 years is remarkable.  We have entrepreneurship in our conversations in the business community, politics, and our new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship associated with UNCW.  

However, most of the time, we focus heavily on supporting young entrepreneurs and look to our retirees as their investors.  I would like to see us continue to open our community to the idea of entrepreneurship and innovation while expanding our focus into the skills, resources, and dreams of our retiree new comers. 

Before the mortgages, kids, and college payments, entrepreneurs may strive because they don’t have the financial demands of an established lifestyle.  They can afford to take risk.  Well there is also a strong community of retirees that have a secure retirement income and they are in a position to take some risk.  They have a solid financial plan and have some extra income or assets that can be used to pursue these ventures.   

The next logical difference is that young entrepreneurs have more time to recover from failure.  My perspective is that retiree entrepreneurs aren’t planning on doing it on their own.  They have already completed their careers and aren’t looking for 60 hours of work per week.  They want to be the wisdom and vision.  They can still find young entrepreneurs to lead, collaborate with and put to work.  If successful, they are the most likely owners to pass ownership to this next generation.  After all, they are already retired.  They may not be afraid to fail either.  If it doesn’t work out, they are still retired.  Those young entrepreneurs who take a chance with these entrepreneur retirees will still have time to recover and take those life lessons on to their next venture.

Let’s continue our efforts and focus on entrepreneurship.  We’re doing a great job so far.  Let’s keep building the vision of Wilmington as a hot bed of start-ups and innovation.  Let’s also figure out a way to inspire retirees following this new trend to call Wilmington home.  Let’s create a path to retirement entrepreneurship in our own backyard.