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Good Retirement Businesses?
Old 01-11-2010, 09:24 PM   #1
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Good Retirement Businesses?

As my early retirement will consist of some kind of part-time work, mainly because I will have kids in school for about 6 more years, I have considered opening a small business. I am looking for something part-time, flexible, low maintenance, but still able to provide some sort of reasonable income.

I am not deluding myself. I understand any business take money, hard work and involves some risk. For instance, we have considered investing in homes and condos to turn into vacations rentals. Once up and running, it can provide a decent income, with relatively little work and it is relatively low risk as its real estate, but take a relatively high amount of capitol to start. Relative is the key word here.

Something, like the above example that not only provides an income, but an investment and can be handed off to a third party to manage when we are ready to full-time retire in 6 years would be ideal.

So why not just do that? We might, but just looking for ideas, maybe what others have done or contemplated, both successful and not. I don't expect a silver bullet here, just inspiration.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:39 PM   #2
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I don't plan to have a business - - but if I did, one that someone suggested on this board several years ago (wish I could remember who!) sounded like a great idea to me: owning a laundromat. All you'd have to do is keep the machines in good repair, sweep up trash, and collect the money. Everybody needs to do their laundry, so it would be recession-proof.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:49 PM   #3
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Awesome idea. Never occurred to me. Like I said, over the next 6 years until I can get the kids out the door, working part-time seems like a good idea, but it would be great to earn anotehr income and have little if any work to do and complete freedom.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:55 PM   #4
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A couple of others come to mind, coin op car wash or driving range. A friend of mine went to work i a golf pro shop. Not a lot of pay, but free golf. Another friend got a job on an Air Force base driving pilots to their air craft.
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Old 01-11-2010, 10:26 PM   #5
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In some holiday destinations, a lot of retired people act as drivers to the tourists during the peak holiday seasons.

One that I spoke to in Port Douglas (Australia) a few years ago said it was a great way to subsidise his income - he worked for an aggregate of about two and a half months a year and spent most of the rest of the time fishing and visiting his children/grandchildren.
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Old 01-11-2010, 10:36 PM   #6
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I appreciate the responses, but I am looking to be an business owner not an employee (as far as this exercise goes anyway). A job at a golf course to get free golf might be in my future, but the idea of being my own boss seems like a better option.
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Old 01-11-2010, 11:42 PM   #7
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IMO, your best chance of having a successful small business is to own/run one where you have some skill, trade or propriatory knowledge to give you an advantage. Example: you buy some condos, a laundrymat or a car wash. If you (1) understand how to run this type of business and (2) are very "handy" so you can do most maintainence yourself, you have a good chance of being successful. But if you just want to invest in something passively, your chances of success are more limited.

What can you bring to the game to help you win?
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Old 01-12-2010, 12:40 AM   #8
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IMO, your best chance of having a successful small business is to own/run one where you have some skill, trade or propriatory knowledge to give you an advantage. Example: you buy some condos, a laundrymat or a car wash. If you (1) understand how to run this type of business and (2) are very "handy" so you can do most maintainence yourself, you have a good chance of being successful. But if you just want to invest in something passively, your chances of success are more limited.

What can you bring to the game to help you win?
I agree with this. Very few people are going to be able to replicate the sort of lifestyle Tim Ferris writes about in "The Four Hour Week". Almost by definition, anything that requires low capital, little effort and no particular skill set has limited opportunities as the low barriers to entry will mean a lot of potential for competition should the business prove to be profitable.

The other route is to do something conneted with your previous employment and use contacts made in that capacity as a means of establishing the business. Consultants do this all the time.

The ideas mentioned by youbet are good ones - finding the right location for the laundrymat or car wash is key for both types of business.

My experience with doing up residential property is that it is more capital intensive than I would like for the returns generated - but the fact that I have been living in a city where property prices have risen strongly since 2003 affects that view.
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Old 01-12-2010, 04:28 PM   #9
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I appreciate the responses, but I am looking to be an business owner not an employee (as far as this exercise goes anyway).
You've read the stats on business owners working longer hours than business employees, right? Generally for less money, too? The phrase "good retirement business" seems triply oxymoronic.

With that in mind:

Handyman. Even better if you're wiling to pressure-wash, clean windows, and paint. If you advertise you'll have more work than you can handle. If you don't advertise then you'll still have more word-of-mouth work than you want. And if you develop a niche like roof repairs or organizing closets...

A friend up the street has an extremely flexible carpet-cleaning business. He uses a custom diesel van (for heating the water) and goes for the corporate contracts. He (and his assistants) have been cleaning the local Chuck E. Cheese carpets every night (literally) for over five years. When he wants more work, he hires more workers-- usually college students and military who have nights/weekends free. As a side effect of the carpet-cleaning business, he's in excellent physical condition.

When spouse was in the Navy Reserve I noticed that 90% of her unit had no idea how to write their fitness reports. I had just finished a career where I'd been writing over 100/year, so I was tempted for months to go into business. Luckily surfing won out over creative writing.
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:40 PM   #10
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I guess when I say business, I'm not looking to generate a full time like income, just something to generate a small, but relatively steady income. Maybe a $1000 dollars a month give or take. A side business. Maybe there isn't anything like what I'm looking for. I have thought about either building custom fly rods or custom guitars, both things I have experience with, but I don't necessarily want be a slave to a work bench. Laundry and car wash sound like decent ideas. I am willing to trade some of my profits to hire manager.
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:54 PM   #11
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Again, a lot of this depends on your individual abilities/talents. If I decide to do something like this in ER, it will be financial planning (fee based), serving as a director for a small bank or credit union, or maybe a daily money manager (www.aadmm.com). But this is because these things play to my strengths. Yours are undoubtedly different, so find something that fits.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:02 PM   #12
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I Maybe a $1000 dollars a month give or take. A side business. Maybe there isn't anything like what I'm looking for. I have thought about either building custom fly rods or custom guitars, both things I have experience with, but I don't necessarily want be a slave to a work bench. Laundry and car wash sound like decent ideas. I am willing to trade some of my profits to hire manager.

You could sell fishing equipment on ebay especially lures . I sell women's ( thirty somethings ) dresses and work clothes on ebay and I usually make about $1,000 a month with little effort . Since your handle is about fly fishing I'd look for something in that market !
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:04 PM   #13
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Since you only live once you might as well take every effort to find something you really enjoy and learn how to make a few bucks at it. Based on your username and the above post I'd consider focusing on fly fishing. Maybe it's selling lures on ebay, making custom rods or something else in the niche.

Starting business is really risky, maybe you can buy the local fly shop or some other existing business for a fair price. Same goes for laundromat or anything else, I think buying existing cash flow is less risky then trying to build it from scratch.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:23 PM   #14
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For instance, we have considered investing in homes and condos to turn into vacations rentals. Once up and running, it can provide a decent income, with relatively little work and it is relatively low risk as its real estate, but take a relatively high amount of capitol to start. Relative is the key word here.

Something, like the above example that not only provides an income, but an investment and can be handed off to a third party to manage when we are ready to full-time retire in 6 years would be ideal.
We're in our 4th year renting the lake house as a vacation rental ... haven't had a positive cashflow yet. Expenses are high (e.g. internet and cable are a must .. and must be retained year round) and nearly all the rent comes in 4 or 5 months. Rest of the year is vacant. We use the house alot ... so this works for us. But managment fees run 20-40% depending on how little you want to do (we hire out cleaning - do the renting/management ourselves). Really not a way to make money. Helps pay the bills ... but that's all it'll ever do.

This is with dual seasons (lake in the summer; skiing in the winter). You'ld need a year round paradise to improve the numbers. But I believe everyplace in this country has a bad season (too hot/cold/rainy/dry).

From my view, the only people who profit are the ones who manage/service the unit. Stick with the fly fishing (how 'bout a fishing guide!)
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:38 PM   #15
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I agree with Brewer that you should utilize your strengths and unique skills. If I were good at landscaping or lawn maintenance, that's something I might enjoy doing. Not recession proof though.

In my own case I could do occasional call at the local hospital (fixed costs of licence, insurance and continuing education credits would require a significant commitment to make this worthwhile) or I could teach various topics at local educational institutions, or I could do healthcare consulting, or I could sign up as an expert witness.....

Or, since I love to write (haven't you noticed?) I could write a novel and become a famous author. Yeah, maybe that's what I'll do.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:43 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by flyfishnevada View Post
As my early retirement will consist of some kind of part-time work, mainly because I will have kids in school for about 6 more years, I have considered opening a small business. I am looking for something part-time, flexible, low maintenance, but still able to provide some sort of reasonable income.

I am not deluding myself. I understand any business take money, hard work and involves some risk. For instance, we have considered investing in homes and condos to turn into vacations rentals. Once up and running, it can provide a decent income, with relatively little work and it is relatively low risk as its real estate, but take a relatively high amount of capitol to start. Relative is the key word here.

Something, like the above example that not only provides an income, but an investment and can be handed off to a third party to manage when we are ready to full-time retire in 6 years would be ideal.

So why not just do that? We might, but just looking for ideas, maybe what others have done or contemplated, both successful and not. I don't expect a silver bullet here, just inspiration.
are you currently retired? is it wise to be quitting your career, with kids in school, for the uncertainty of rolling the dice on a business, that has a 90% chance of failing?

what will happen to your kids educations if your business fails to generate income or actually takes money out of the pot?
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:52 PM   #17
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In my own case I could do occasional call at the local hospital (fixed costs of licence, insurance and continuing education credits would require a significant commitment to make this worthwhile)

Yikes ! The thought of doing call has me reconsidering Khan's " Sell a kidney "
philosophy.
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Old 01-12-2010, 11:03 PM   #18
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You could sell fishing equipment on ebay especially lures . I sell women's ( thirty somethings ) dresses and work clothes on ebay and I usually make about $1,000 a month with little effort . Since your handle is about fly fishing I'd look for something in that market !
I think is soo cool. You must really have a talent for it.

ha
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Old 01-13-2010, 01:38 AM   #19
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Why not be a fly fishing guide? Have your ER activity and get paid for it.
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Old 01-13-2010, 07:35 AM   #20
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Can I repeat the old saw "find something you love to do and the money will follow"? Seems to hold true over the years. Just saying....
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