No more work deadlines! Now you have days on end in which you can do exactly what you please. . . For some, retirement is the start of an exciting new chapter. It’s a well-earned rest and a break from the stress of working life.
But for others it’s a daunting prospect because they have no idea what they’re going to do with all the spare time they suddenly have at their disposal.
And there’s also that niggling worry that their pension won’t be enough to cover monthly expenses. This was the situation Enolla Thomas and her late husband, Anthony, found themselves in when he went on early retirement in 1996.
Having spent decades building a rewarding career for himself as a geologist, Anthony knew he had to find something to keep himself busy or he’d go out of his mind with boredom.
After a few conversations with friends he had a brainwave. “He chatted to people in the retirement village right next to us and they wanted to go on holiday – short holidays, something that old people could afford,” says Enolla (76).
That’s how their company, GOC Leisure Personalised Tours, which organises safari trips for pensioners, came into existence. And after 23 years it’s still going strong. To get their business up and running the couple from Benoni their cars and bought a kombi, which they used to transport their clients to their Southern African escapes.
Enolla, then in her early fifties, still had a full-time job as a personal assistant.
“We had to get the business off the ground first so I worked for another two years before I retired.”
Their company provides such a niche offering that when Anthony passed away in August last year, Enolla’s clients begged her and her son, Glen, to keep the company going.
She says what’s kept their business thriving for more than two decades is the consideration they have for the elderly.
“Some of our clients are in their nineties and we have to be very careful with them. We need to give them special attention, see that they’re okay and look after them the whole time while we’re away on the tour,” she explains.
FINDING THE RIGHT BUSINESS
There aren’t any magic rules for coming up with a good and profitable business idea, says Koos Nel of Old Mutual Personal Finance.
“Your best shot at picking the right business is to make sure it’s a good fit for your personality and your skills or aptitude,” he advises.
Start by focusing on your strengths and area of expertise. “The good news is you can tap into a lifetime of experience, skills or expert knowledge,” Nel says. “Consider turning your expertise into becoming a coach, mentor, facilitator, tutor or consultant, or turning your hobby into a service you offer to communities,” he advises.
Not every business idea has to be a brand-new innovation, Nel says. “You could take an existing product or service and do your own version of it at a lower price or in a different location or with another minor tweak that sets it apart.”
If you can find work that you love and where you can make a difference the money will follow, says Lynda Smith, a retirement life coach and founder of 50 Plus-Skills, an online skills community network for people over the age of 50.
“In coaching I ask these four questions: what do you love, what are you good at, what can you get paid for and what does the world need? This then helps people to understand where their unique place may be in starting something,” she advises.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Don’t fall into the trap of investing your retirement capital in a business. Nel says this is a common mistake that people make and it can come back to haunt you if your business fails and you lose the startup money you ploughed into it.
“Your business idea should be robust enough to stand on its own legs,” he says. “Structure it properly so it won’t affect your personal estate and financial plan. If startup capital is required, approach financial institutions or partners to invest,” he advises.
While it’s good to be positive when starting a business you also need to be aware that there are no guarantees and that it could fail, says retirement and financial planning expert Kim Potgieter, co-author of the book Retirement: Get More Meaning from Your Money.
“The golden rule is not to use your retirement savings to open a business or start a new venture.” If your business fails and you’ve invested your retirement savings you won’t have enough time to recoup your losses to ensure a secure retirement, she warns.
Nel says it’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening in South Africa and the world so you’re aware of economic and technological developments. That way you can ensure your business remains relevant.
“Review your business strategy on an ongoing basis. Evaluate the factors that could influence the market and impact your business, and then adapt accordingly. If you don’t do this, you could find yourself sitting with an outdated or obsolete business,” he warns.
Smith says people who aren’t tech savvy shouldn’t allow themselves to feel daunted about acquiring this new skill.
“Technology can be a challenge but we need to find someone who can guide and teach us. I believe at least 50% of opportunities are in cyberspace and need online skills.
These can be learnt,” she says.
TOP TIPS FROM EXPERTS:
It’s important to start this journey with the assistance of your financial adviser, Nel says. You need to understand the implications of a new business and stay in control at this vulnerable stage of your life.
You also need peace of mind that your family will be taken care of should something unforeseen happen or go wrong, and that the business responsibilities and liabilities will be taken care of without compromising their financial wellbeing.
Think ahead If you plan, you prosper, Potgieter says. Spend some time brainstorming. Don’t just come up with one possible business idea – think up a dozen or so and then choose the one that’s right for you.
Be realistic There are many considerations before choosing to start a new business: the amount of time you’d like to devote to your new venture, your working arrangements, the degree of challenge, the level of responsibility and market complexity, to name a few. Be realistic about the options available to you and what you can commit to.
Seek help Don’t be daunted by what you don’t know, Smith says. Ask around and find someone to help you. Learning from experts will fill in the gaps and ensure success.
Get the word out You need to let people know about your business. When it comes to creating social and business networks there’s nothing that beats digital. Don’t worry if you don’t know the first thing about running a website. Start off by opening social media pages for your business. “While a website is important to establish credibility, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are also great tools to use,” says Potgieter.
Have fun It shouldn’t be all work and no play. Balance is an essential part of a fulfilled retirement and it’s important to make time for all the areas in your life that you may have previously neglected, Potgieter says. Plan to make this the best time of your life.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR RETIREMENT!
YOU Retirement is packed with advice on how to manage your finances and stay healthy and maintain healthy relationships. plus: Heaps of puzzles and games that help keep your memory sharp. Get your book at leading retailers at R49 or order it from Johan Terblanche at 021-406-4962, online at youstore.co.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org for delivery. Extra costs may apply.