Guest blog by Lisa Orrell
Author of Boomers into Business: How Anyone Over 50 Can Turn What They Know into Dough Before and After Retirement
Did you know that Baby Boomers are currently retiring at the rate of 1 every 8 seconds (Judy Chartrand, Ph.D. and Bonnie Hagemann)? And this massive retirement trend has just started!
That’s a huge amount of Boomers, willingly or unwillingly, leaving their income- generating jobs daily. But due to the economic shifts in our country the past couple of years, many Boomers cannot afford to retire securely or as comfortably when, how, and as, they’d hoped…regardless of whether they’ve been an employee their entire career or self-employed.
Here are some startling stats to put this in perspective: According to The EBRI Retirement Readiness RatingTM in 2010:
• 47.2% of older Boomers (56-62) are at risk of outliving their retirement savings.
• 43.7% of younger Boomers (46-55) are at risk of not having enough money for basic monthly expenses when they retire.
47.2%??? That’s almost half of the Boomers! Those statistics are frightening, especially the one about the younger Boomers (46-55). It means we have millions of people (close to 30 million) who cannot afford to stop working at 65 and who are currently seeking ways to make more income now and on an on-going basis past 65.
But, on the other end of that spectrum, there are Boomers who simply don’t want to fully retire, even if they can, and are looking for something different to do. Regardless of which category you may fall into, what can you do? Boomers have options that can generate income, full-time or part-time, or on the side of a current job, that is flexible, interesting, fun, possible to start on a tight budget, and that can be done way into their golden years.
So what is this career possibility that can potentially improve your current and future financial outlook? The premise is quite basic: Become a Topic Expert. Most everyone knows something, from their career background, life experiences or from a hobby that other people will pay money to learn about.
Whether you’ve been an HR professional your whole career, or a construction worker, homemaker, dentist, Life Coach, housepainter, or a hobbyist at growing amazing roses, Boomers can monetize what they know to create a good income, in a wide variety of ways, as a Topic Expert. And, health permitting, it’s something a person can do for years…way past 65…and, as just mentioned, for many Boomers working past 65 years-old is going to be necessary.
More good news is that just about ANY Boomer is qualified to embark on this journey without much money! Seriously, you can launch a Topic Expert brand platform with little more than a basic website and a lot enthusiasm. There are many people who have done it for under $500 bucks and within a short time were making a significant income.
But you may now be wondering where the money is in this? As a Topic Expert, it can lead to a variety of revenue-generating paths, such as: consulting others; conducting training seminars online and offline; developing many strategies for on-going passive income; creating simple “how to” products to sell; and much more.
To illustrate here’s a true story of what can happen if you think outside the box a little:
A typical “mow & blow” neighborhood gardener was struggling financially and the physical nature of his work was affecting him as he got older. But, during his career, he had developed a unique method to bring totally dead lawns back to green, lush lawns. And neighbors of his clients started to ask him for help with their brown lawns, and then he started charging other gardeners to learn his method. This then led to him being an in-demand speaker at local and national Home & Garden Expos and industry tradeshows, as well as conducting his own workshops for homeowners that he charged people to attend.
Needless to say, by branding and marketing himself as a “guru of growing green lawns” he went from an income for years that was in the low 5-figures to one in the 6-figures, and he was able to leave his daily “mow & blow” gardener business behind. Plus, this all happened in his mid-60s and he was able to do it for many years afterwards…thus greatly improving his financial situation and his quality of life.
But what if you’re a homemaker in your late 50’s and 60’s (or even 70’s!), your kids are now adults, you have been a homemaker for the past 30+ years (focused on everyone else except you all those years), and you now want, or need, to generate more income?
Needing to generate an income has become a serious reality for many Boomer homemakers due to divorce; retirement accounts taking a dive; house values declining; investments not yielding their anticipated projections; unexpected emergencies draining savings and/or assets; or due to becoming a widow.
So what can you do? Aside from going back to school or enrolling in a vocational program to learn a new skill set (which can take a lot of time and money), focus on the skills you’ve acquired as a full-time homemaker and as an intelligent woman. Perhaps you are an amazing cook; have a flair for home decorating; or are brilliant at running a house and raising three kids on a tight budget. Maybe you are known amongst friends and family as a terrific time management and scheduling pro; or have created the most amazing vegetable garden that everyone admires. Great! You can take that knowledge and develop a Topic Expert brand platform that can generate money for you.
Here’s another quick example to illustrate my point: If you’re a CPA, rather than just focus on doing tax planning and tax returns to generate money, you can increase your income, now and into the future, by also conducting presentations that you can charge for, or you can develop products that people will buy, or you can do things like create a 2-day “financial success” boot camp with other guest experts/speakers…and you can charge people a lot to attend them.
By speaking, creating products, and/or writing articles and Press Releases that get published by the media, you can position yourself as a “tax & accounting” Topic Expert and go beyond “just being another CPA in your town”. This can increase your income in a variety of ways!
Now, I realize that many of you may not want to travel for speaking engagements or have no desire to speak publicly. Luckily, with modern technology, you can conduct webinars and teleseminars that are easy to set-up, that people will pay to attend online or via phone…and you don’t have to leave your house. Plus, any 1-on-1 or group consulting you may do can be done online or on the phone.
Furthermore, there are Topic Experts who never do any speaking, consulting or product development. They do things like develop blogs or newsletters to share their expertise and sell ad space on them to generate income.
See? There are TONS of ways to make money when you decide to position yourself as an expert in a specific area.
One final key fact that supports why becoming a Topic Expert is something you should consider is that we now live in a 24/7 media world. Therefore the media is always looking for experts to interview on a wide variety of interesting topics and on breaking news stories. It’s amazing how quickly someone can land media interviews when the media perceives them as “an expert”. Media coverage can quickly help build awareness for you and that can also lead to attracting more revenue-generating opportunities to you.
The bottom-line: Whether you’re already self-employed, unemployed, or an employee, you can expand on what you do and offer outside of your actual “job”, and/or promote what you know, to increase your income and build your notoriety. And you, a Baby Boomer, may fall into the 50% category of Boomers who are at risk of struggling financially now and into your golden years.
It’s time to seriously start considering your options for income opportunities that can improve your financial future. And branding and marketing yourself as a “Topic Expert” is certainly one viable option to think about!