You Can Kick Off Your Post-Retirement Small Business for $10,000 or Less

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Nataba / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Once you’ve retired from your 9-to-5, you might find that you’re not quite ready to exit the working world. Whether you want to explore a passion, pick up some extra cash or just experience what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, there are many small businesses you can start in retirement that don’t require large investments of your time or money.

Here are small businesses you can kick off in retirement for $10,000 or less, as well as some tips for how to get started.

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Bookkeepers are hired by companies to keep track of spending, take charge of the payroll and manage financial reports. Many small companies need help with payroll management, so it’s possible to start your own bookkeeping business and work as a freelancer on an as-needed basis.

To start this small business for retirees, you should become familiar with accounting software, which you can do via online tutorials. You should also consider becoming a certified bookkeeper through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. To do this, you will need to gain two years of experience and pass a four-part exam. The cost for certification is $574, but the fee can be worth it since the certification will add to your market value. 

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Day Care Owner

If you love working with kids and have extra room in your home, you could consider opening a daycare to boost your retirement income. Expenses for this business after retirement include any supplies needed, employee pay if you decide to hire additional help, and marketing and promotional materials.

You must have a license to operate a day care in most states. Requirements to obtain a license could include completing orientation programs, inspections and consultations. Expect to pay fees to apply for a license, as well as an annual fee to keep the license. In California, the annual fee for a small child care home facility is $73.

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Dog Sitter

If you want to spend your retirement hanging out with dogs, consider becoming a dog sitter. Responsibilities in this business usually include feeding and walking dogs and can include other responsibilities such as grooming and administering medications.

Becoming a self-employed dog sitter is a senior-friendly job that’s perfect for retirement because it allows you to set your own hours, and there are really no overhead costs outside of advertising your services. Although certification isn’t required, you can become a certified professional pet sitter to distinguish yourself from others in the field by taking an exam administered by Pet Sitters International. The cost to take the exam is $275.

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Estate Sale Manager

Here’s an unusual small-business idea for retirees: Estate sale managers help the families and benefactors of the deceased appraise and sell their assets for the most money possible. The ideal person for this job will have strong people skills and a passion for learning about appraising assets.

To start your own estate sale company, consider getting certified in asset appraisal. You might also join professional organizations such as the American Society of Estate Liquidators or the National Estate Sale Association to build your network and gain access to training and other educational tools. Membership to the American Society of Estate Liquidators costs $150 for the first year and $99 for each year thereafter, and membership to the National Estate Sale Association costs $99 per year. Before beginning to operate as a business, be sure to register as an LLC. 

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Etsy Shop Owner

Retirement provides the perfect opportunity to turn your hobbies into ways to make money — including crafting and creating art. If you’re looking for a business idea after retirement, you can easily sell homemade goods and other products on Etsy for very few costs outside of the materials you need to create and ship your items.

To start an Etsy shop, you’ll need to come up with a name, post some listings and set your prices and shipping costs. Keep in mind that Etsy charges a 20-cent listing fee and takes 3.5 percent of sales.

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Freelance Writer

Freelance writing is a skill that is in high demand and has a very low barrier to entry. However, being successful at it can take some work.

The best freelance writers have a niche, so consider writing about a subject that you became an expert in before retirement. You should also create your own website to serve as an online portfolio. You can create a business website on WordPress for just $25 a month — and if you don’t feel comfortable designing your site, you can always hire someone to do it for you. Find jobs by networking or checking online job boards.

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Interior Decorator

If you have a knack for design, you might want to consider starting your own interior decorating business. Interior decorators help clients find the right decor for their home, keep track of costs and stay on top of vendors.

No degree is required for this job, but being certified can help make you a more appealing hire. Look out for programs that have been accredited by Certified Interior Decorators or the Interior Design Society. You might also want to become a member of one of these groups to build your network, stay on top of trends and learn about new educational opportunities. You can complete a CID online program for $895, and the fee includes a year of membership. 

When you’re ready to launch your business, consider creating a website to serve as your online portfolio. 

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Legal Proofreader

A legal transcript proofreading business is one of the best businesses for retirees to start. Court reporters rely on legal transcript proofreaders to look over transcripts created by stenographers and spot any errors. If you love to read, have a flexible schedule and possess strong attention to detail plus advanced knowledge of spelling and grammar, this could be a good business for you.

To perform this job, you will need a printer, paper and a scanner if you prefer working with hard copies; a computer if you prefer working directly on your screen; or an iPad. Using an iPad is the method preferred by many legal transcript proofreaders because it enables you to use the iAnnotate app, which you can purchase from the App Store for $9.99. If you don’t already have an iPad, you can purchase one for $329. Contact court reporters in your area to get started.

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Embrace your creative side with your own photography business. To be a professional photographer, you will need a high-quality camera as well as advanced photo editing tools. Although no specific degree or training is required, you could consider taking a course to hone your skills.

When you’re ready to launch your business, create a website and online portfolio, and develop a business strategy to attract new clients and gigs.

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Do you love to shop and know how to spot a good deal? Then consider becoming a professional reseller. These individuals and businesses purchase products with the intention to resell them for a profit. You can easily do this from home by purchasing items online and reselling them for a greater value on sites like Etsy and Craigslist. The only cost to launch this business is the price of the items you intend to sell, and if you’re good at your job, you’ll make that money back and then some.

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Travel Tour Guide

If you love your city, want to stay active and enjoy meeting new people, consider launching your own travel tour guide business. To become a tour guide, you will need to get licensed, which you can do by passing an exam that is typically administered by states, cities and municipalities. These exams ask you a range of questions on topics such as architecture and history. Once you’re certified, you will need to invest in marketing to advertise your services. You can give tours as often as you would like, so the amount you work is up to you.

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If you worked as a teacher before retiring — or just love to teach — you can become a private tutor to earn some extra cash. You don’t need any certification to start your own tutoring business, but you might want to consider becoming certified by the National Tutoring Association to add to your credibility. Certification to be a professional tutor is only $25.

Once you’ve decided on the subject that you want to focus on, you will need to advertise your services. Consider meeting with teachers in your area to have them connect you with students in need, or advertise your services on sites like Care.com. You set your own rates and availability, so it’s a good business choice for retirees who want to make cash while working full- or part-time.

Click through to find the best work-from-home jobs for retirees.

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