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Retire - And Start Your Own Business: Five Steps to Success
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Retire - And Start Your Own Business: Five Steps to Success

by Martha Sargent, Dennis Sargent

The only book that helps entrepreneurial retirees figure out how to get that dream business up and running! If you plan to retire and start your own business then this one-of-a-kind book is ideal for you. A comprehensive, step-by-step guide, Retire And Start Your Own Business is packed with practical, hands-on tools (including a CD-ROM) to help entrepreneurs like


The only book that helps entrepreneurial retirees figure out how to get that dream business up and running! If you plan to retire and start your own business then this one-of-a-kind book is ideal for you. A comprehensive, step-by-step guide, Retire And Start Your Own Business is packed with practical, hands-on tools (including a CD-ROM) to help entrepreneurs like you pick and run a perfect business. This book is at the leading edge of the new retirement: more retirees need or want to keep working. It shows you how to: define success for you take stock of your skills and experience work with the time and money you have generate business ideas perform four "reality checks" on your best idea get ready to launch your business understand important legal, financial and tax matters find the best health insurance and more Plus: Retire And Start Your Own Business provides dozens of exercises that can help you understand exactly what you want from your businesses and your life. The CD-ROM provides Excel spreadsheets, plus additional worksheets and lessons not included in the book.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
CD-ROM Included
Product dimensions:
8.78(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.67(d)

Read an Excerpt


Nothing happens unless first we dream.

—Carl Sandburg

In this chapter, you will explore your interests, set some goals, and get clear about your motivation for starting your own business. Each of these tasks will help you choose a venture that will thrive and bring you satisfaction in your retirement years.

What Interests You?

If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.

—Katharine Hepburn

To start the process of picking your best business, we encourage you to think about what you like to do now, what has interested you in the past, and what you might want to try in the future. Is there something you’ve been itching to try that you’ve never done before? We get caught up in our busy lives and can be too tired—or just too set in our ways—to even think about new activities, let alone pursue them. But the perfect business idea could be hidden in one of your untested interests.

The Tools in this section will help you explore a wide range of subjects and activities, leading to a list of favorites that may reveal the key to your new business. The first Tool is a warm-up exercise, designed to prompt your thinking about what you want to do. Circle any items that interest you. Don’t worry about choosing too many things: at the end of the section, you’ll have a chance to zero in on what you like best. For now, be expansive. And don’t stop with the interests we’ve included. If you think of something that’s not listed here, write it down and circle it.


Mary Ann worked for 25 years as an engineer and planner for a Fortune 500 company. She nolonger felt the drive that once spurred her to excel in her career, and work became draining. She was restless, spending more and more time thinking about what else she could do with her life. When the company downsized and offered a severance package, she was hooked. Mary Ann loves to fish. She took her severance and bought into a fly-fishing store.

[“JumpStart Your Thinking” Chart] omitted for online sample chapter

You can add to your list of interests and potential business ideas by completing the following exercise. It will help you stretch your thinking about what you might like to do, not only by reminding you of what you used to enjoy, but by considering what you would try if nothing stood in your way. What would you do if you had nothing to fear?

[“If You Could Do Anything” Form] omitted for online sample chapter

While exploring your interests, you might have felt like the kid in the proverbial candy shop, wanting a little bit of everything. And that’s just fine. But now you need to winnow your favorite subjects and activities into a list that will help you choose potential retirement businesses. Go back over the last two exercises and ask whether you can see yourself putting time or money into each of the interests you’ve identified. If your answer is no, cross out that interest area for now. It doesn’t mean that interest won’t be part of your life, just that it isn’t likely to be the source of your best business idea.


John and Kathy retired from their long-held jobs with a metals fabrication company and devoted their attention to one of their passions: growing lavender. They didn’t intend to open a business, but their acre of lavender plants attracted attention, and soon they recognized an opportunity. They now sell lavender plants and dried lavender products at farmers markets. It’s a seasonal business, which fits perfectly with their goal of traveling to a new country each year.

Write your remaining interests in the box below.

[“Your Key Interests” Form] omitted for online sample chapter

You now have a good list of your interests. Keep it handy—you will come back to it when you complete your Profile and start looking for business ideas.

What Are Your Retirement Goals?

Just think—no more long commutes to work. No more endless meetings, tiresome bureaucracy, or office politics. No more sleepwalking through mundane tasks you’ve completed so many times you can’t remember if they were ever new and exciting. Plenty of people look forward to leaving their jobs.

But maybe you will miss your work. You get a charge out of closing a deal or perfecting a product. You’re proud of your craftsmanship and that company management sent every new hire to you to learn from the best. You enjoyed the camaraderie at the office or the challenge of learning new technology.

Whether you approach your retirement with relief or trepidation, one thing is certain: You will leave behind the structure and direction your work provided and will need to build a new routine. If you don’t have some good ideas about what to do with your days, you could find that time slips by with little sense of satisfaction. You could find yourself hardly working or working hard without meaningful results.


Marcie worked for 20 years in the administrative offices of a major university. At first, she was glad to give up her job. Retirement gave her time to pay attention to her garden, catch up on reading, and spend more time with friends. But as the months went by, Marcie felt increasingly restless. To stay active and give her days some structure, she and a friend started walking regularly with a national organization that enlists walkers and runners to raise money for charity. The first year, Marcie walked a half-marathon. The next, she met her goal of walking a full marathon. One thing led to another, and eventually Marcie started doing freelance work for the nonprofit group, helping to organize their local office.

Setting goals is a great way to ensure that you live your retirement life purposefully. You will get more enjoyment from your life—and greater success from your business—if you set constructive goals and learn to balance them.

You may have had some negative experiences with goals in your workplace. Perhaps you spent far too many working hours at meetings rehashing company goals that no one seemed to care about, knowing that the latest directive would be distributed in a nice binder only to gather dust on a shelf. Or maybe you received top-down mandates or impossible challenges set by corporate planners who never did your job. But don’t shy away from setting goals now—because this time, you’re in charge. These goals are all about you. You’re going to set attainable goals and use them to successfully establish your retirement business and your retirement life.

If you feel intimidated by the idea of setting clear goals, don’t worry. This section will show you how. On the other hand, if you’re an expert goal setter, the Tools that follow will help you focus on exactly what you want to accomplish in retirement.

Keep in mind that you’ll start by considering the big picture, which may include everything from organizing the garage to auditioning for the next community play. Starting a business is one important goal, but you will view it in the context of everything you’d like to do.

The Anatomy of a Goal

If you’re bored with life—you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things—you don’t have enough goals.

—Lou Holtz

Setting goals is a matter of knowing what you want and properly allocating your resources—primarily time and money—to reach your desired ends. To increase your chances of success, you’ll want to focus on the attributes of an effective goal statement. Many experts use some variation of the acronym SMART to describe a good goal statement. We’ve found it helpful to add a little more, so here’s a list that’s SMARTPLUS:

• Specific. The more precise your goals, the more likely you can put them into action. Saying "I will paint more" doesn’t give you clear direction or help with resource allocation. But if you say "I will complete an oil painting of my grandmother’s family home," you will be more focused and more likely to accomplish your goal.
• Measurable. You need a means of measurement to know whether you’ve accomplished your goal. Some examples: "I will lose 20 pounds." "I will walk three miles five days per week." "I will read one classic per month." But measurement does not necessarily mean quantity. You may meet a travel goal by visiting India, or an education goal by completing a college history class.
• Attainable. There is much debate about how difficult it should be to reach your goals. If a goal is too easy, it’s not likely to motivate you. If it’s too hard, you may give up hope. Only you can decide how to challenge yourself without going overboard.
• Rewarding. Achieving your goal should make you feel great. It doesn’t matter if anyone else recognizes your achievement, as long as you do. It should be something you really want, not something that someone else thinks you ought to do.
• Timely. Without a deadline or time frame for your goal, you’re not likely to make much progress. Remember, goal setting involves resource allocation, so whatever’s at the top of your list is likely to suck up most of the hours in a day. Setting a time frame for a goal will help to ensure that you spend time on it. This doesn’t mean all of your goals must be reached soon. You may have daily goals, monthly goals, and lifetime goals.
• Positive. It’s usually much more effective to state your goals in a positive way. Athletic coaches know that positive statements are better motivators. You’ll likely have more success with "I will keep my head still when I putt" than "I won’t look up when I putt." Likewise, you’ll have more enthusiasm if you say "I will spend four evenings per week working on my model train refurbishing business" than if you tell yourself "I won’t watch so much television in the evening."
• Linked. Link your goals to the balance of work, play, and learning you envision in retirement. You can’t control everything. Other people, the economy, even the weather may affect what you can and can’t do. But to the extent possible, develop goals that support how you want to live in retirement and you will find it easier to stay in control.
• Unbundled. If you look carefully at a goal, you’ll probably find that it contains subgoals—or smaller steps. If your goal is to run a marathon, you might first set a goal to run a 10K. If you break down your goals in this way, they will be easier to accomplish and you can enjoy the feeling of success along the way.
• Shifting. A key to achieving your goals is maintaining focus, but don’t think this means your goals are set in stone. Goals can, and do, change. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your progress and consider whether your goals need adjustment. But be careful not to shift a goal just so you can say you accomplished it, or to save face if you’ve made no progress at all.

I Want To ...

Most people need some time to think about what they want to do in retirement. There are so many possibilities! If you're not sure where to begin, look back at the interest areas you identified and think about where you want to spend your energy. For example, if you listed an interest in stamp collecting, you might decide that you want to increase your collection of commemorative stamps, or join a stamp club, or finally get all your stamps organized and into albums.

Skip Ahead: If you know your goals. If you already know what you want to do in retirement, that’s terrific. You can move on to the next section, where you will have the opportunity to write effective statements to help you achieve your goals.

You might discover that you want to spend more time with your grandchildren, start exercising regularly, or dust off your flute and play in the local orchestra. You may want to travel to Costa Rica, rebuild the engine in your 1965 Mustang, or bake your own bread. And what about that novel you started writing 20 years ago?

Below, we’d like you to write down all the retirement goals you can think of. There are spaces for ten, but feel free to list more or fewer. Your goals don’t have to be in any particular order—in other words, don’t prioritize them yet. Don’t even be concerned about whether they are SMARTPLUS. You’ll refine your goals in the next section.

Don’t forget to list that you want to start a business. You don’t need to be more specific than that. If you don’t know what kind of business you want to start, that’s okay. Jot down something general, such as "I want to start a business close to home," or "I want to start a business that has something to do with birding." You will explore your opportunities and set specific business goals in later chapters.

Meet the Author

Dennis Sargent was the Director of the Small Business Development Center at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon. He has advised over a thousand small business owners and taught numerous seminars. Dennis is the author of Your Business Plan, published by the Oregon Network of Small Business Development Centers, now in its fifth edition, with nationwide sales of over 100,000 copies. He is also a lead author of NxLevel: A Guide for Entrepreneurs. Recently, Dennis was part of a team that wrote a business planning book for use by the Oregon Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network (ONABEN). Dennis is a Certified Public Accountant and earned his Masters of Science in Business at Oregon State University.

Martha Sargent is a retired Associate Professor of Business at Western Oregon University. She designed, initiated and taught in the Entrepreneurship program at the university. Martha is the primary author of the Instructor's Guide to Your Business Plan, published and distributed by the Oregon Network of Small Business Development Centers. She is a lead author of NxLevel: A Guide for Entrepreneurs, business training materials published by the Western Entrepreneurial Network, used throughout the United States. In 2004, Martha received the university's Excellence in Teaching Award. Martha is a Certified Public Accountant and former Certified Management Accountant, and received her MBA from Oregon State University.

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