What New Business Should I Start?

Last week I wrote an article titled “Entrepreneurs Know No Age Limits” that flooded my inbox with emails and generated a lot of comments. Most of those emailing me were asking “what is the best business to start?” Almost all of the emails came from older people seeking a place to put their expertise and experience to work. I think this is a fair question so I thought I would write about it.

By Mike Clough, SCORE Accredited Business Counselor, Minn/St. Paul

Last week I wrote an article titled “Entrepreneurs Know No Age Limits” that flooded my inbox with emails and generated a lot of comments. Most of those emailing me were asking “what is the best business to start?” Almost all of the emails came from older people seeking a place to put their expertise and experience to work. I think this is a fair question so I thought I would write about it.

First, there are some businesses that I would certainly recommend that you avoid. Those would be businesses with a low or declining demand for its products or services; those with a start-up investment that puts your entire future at high risk; and those that you know absolutely nothing about or do not enjoy. So what does that leave?

The good news is that there are many great businesses you can start. However, a great business for one person may be a horrible business for another. As I considered what kind of advice I should give you, the first thing that came to mind was the exact opposite of what you should avoid. In other words, the best business for you to start is one that has a high or increasing market demand for its products or services; one that does not put your entire future at risk; and one you would enjoy and know something about. And naturally, that is sound advice.

The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the industries with the highest growth will be:

  • Consulting Services – management, scientific, and technical
  • Health Care – individual and family services
  • Health Care – home services
  • Professional Services – specialized design services
  • Information Services – data processing, hosting and related services
  • Professional Services – computer systems design and related services
  • Financial Activities – lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets

They also report that the industries that are declining most rapidly are:

  • Manufacturing – cut and sew apparel
  • Manufacturing – apparel knitting mills
  • Manufacturing – fabric finishing and coating mills
  • Manufacturing – fabric mills
  • Manufacturing – audio and video equipment
  • Manufacturing – apparel accessories and other apparel
  • Manufacturing – fiber, yarn and thread mills

See the entire list at their website.

Yet, if you are 55+, maybe now is the time to do the one thing that you have always dreamed of doing. If you did, what would that be? How high is the demand for that product or service? How much of your retirement will you have to put at risk to launch your new business? And, if this is what you are going to do, how will you and your family adapt to you always being on call and possibly having to work ten hours a day, even on weekends? Are they willing to pitch in and help you?

Sometimes people dream about doing something until they find out what it is really all about and then decide it is not for them. It would be tragic to learn this after making a major investment and take on additional commitments. The time to learn it is before you make an investment and take on additional obligations. So how does one do this?

Before starting any business, you should create a thorough business plan that details your research, competition, target market, start-up investment, first year cash flow, marketing plan, etc. This process will reveal most everything you need to know before getting started so there will be as few surprises as possible. But how do you know what to put into the plan?

My typical recommendation is to find a mentor; someone that has been there before and been successful at it. Possibly you know someone that would be perfect. If not, there is a good chance that SCORE can provide you a great mentor at no cost since that is what they do. There is also a website you might enjoy. Check out Vocation Vacations as they offer an opportunity to test-drive your dream job before you leap. They have hundreds from which to choose.

I also found a video from howdini (a “how to” site) that I would like to share with you. In the video, which contains information on how to start a new business, they recommend the resources of Vocation Vacations (not a coincidence) and Small Business Administration (SBA). See what you think.

So let me ask you again, what is the one thing you have always wanted to do – your dream job? Is starting your own business a better alternative than being rejected by companies more interested in hiring young people at lower wages? Is starting your own business the best way to capitalize on your years of experience and knowledge? If so, why don’t you share your desire with the world by commenting below rather than just sending me an email? And, if you haven’t already done so, check out “Entrepreneurs Know No Age Limits.”

I hope you find this information useful. If you would like to contact me, you can do so by emailing me at mike.clough@bestbizpractices.org or visiting my LinkedIn page.