When You Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’ and it’s a pretty good way to describe the place in which many people find themselves after a busy working life. Perhaps they are retired, or their jobs have changed beyond all recognition over the years, or maybe their jobs have disappeared altogether, but they still have a myriad of skills, abilities and talents. They know they can make a significant contribution and want to get started, but how, and doing what?

People receiving or choosing early retirement packages don’t necessarily want to be completely divorced from the working world and opening a business of some sort allows them to use their skills and expertise in a new way. ‘Seniorpreneurs’ are not usually motivated by financial reasons rather they want to remain connected on their own terms with the community at large.

Over the last few years, the advancing cohort of ‘boomers’ has been making its presence felt in many areas of society. One area that has been noticeably affected is that of small business and demographic studies by such institutions as CIBC suggest this group will have a positive and long-term effect on economic growth in Canada. Interestingly, statistics given in a 2004 Globe and Mail article state that the number of businesses started by people over the age of 55 has jumped by almost 30% in recent years.

Not everyone has what it takes to start a business, a specialized skill, trade, product or service and the ability to access clients are the basics for any prospective entrepreneur and being a ‘seniorpreneur’ is no exception. Services they, themselves, might want now, or in the future, are often the place where most of these late blooming entrepreneurs start. However, these ventures are usually successful and quite varied in their scope. The senior who is an entrepreneur uses skills and expertise honed over the years being creative in promoting and marketing their businesses. Size and major monetary gain are rarely the ‘yardstick’ by which ‘seniorpreneurs’ measure success, rather it is the enjoyment and the pleasure experienced in their new venture.

Often a great idea for a business or service is hampered because it is difficult to know how to get started. For instance, if you want to provide a specialty service you may have the skills required, but not know who would want your services, how to get the message out, what to charge, or what type of support is available to help you get started and move your idea forward.

You may have had no intentions or desire to start a small business when you retired or left your primary career, but now you do and you find yourself wondering about many things. Do you need to take an accounting course or a computer course, design a website, print flyers, get a business phone number and enter as a neophyte into the heady world of commerce? No wonder many give up once they see themselves surrounded by all of those trees! What to do?

Choosing to start up a business or provide a specialized service once you’ve retired can be a daunting task even if the idea is a good one. In the early days of ‘the idea’, brainstorming, making lists and then focusing in on such things as, exactly what service or item your business will provide, your market niche and marketing strategies are good places to start. Being able to see the forest instead of all those trees takes time and thought.

Next issue we’ll look at some seniorpreneurs whose lives have taken turns none of them ever expected. And, we’ll list a few books and websites to help get you started on your new venture.

This is the first in a two-part series that takes a look at the growing phenomena of seniorpreneurs. Being themselves examples of this very topic, authors Carol Baird-Krul and Enise Olding, working together as D. R. Associates, created, designed and present a series of workshops on pre- and post retirement planning. These articles feature some of the aspects covered in the their most recent workshop ‘Ideas … Enhanced and Advanced©’