tree at sunset

Retirement or Entrepreneurship?

Rethinking work after retirement

We all have a vision of what our dream retirement will be like. It probably involves an island somewhere, a hammock, a good book, and a glass of wine sitting next to you as you relax for the first time in a long time.

But ask most retirees, and you’ll get a very different picture of what retirement is really like today.

According to a survey by Bankrate , “Only 25% [of those surveyed] say they have no plans to work during retirement.” Meaning, three-fourths of Americans are planning on working well into their retirement.

That’s not surprising, given that “One in three Americans has absolutely nothing saved for retirement.” With so many people unprepared for their retirement, it’s no wonder that they continue to work hard well into their golden years.

Working past retirement is not necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, most people think that working during retirement means getting another job, or staying at the one they have. They don’t see retirement as an opportunity to live their lives the way they want to. Instead, they feel trapped by their circumstances.

Retirement doesn’t have to be an extension of the Rat Race. In fact, retirement can and should be some of the best years of your lives. Consider taking an alternate approach to your retirement. One that defies working harder, for longer, just to get by.

A new definition of retirement

Most people define retirement as the point in their lives when they will leave their job and stop working. For some professions, retirement is an age defined by their company or industry.

But more and more people are working past that pre-set age, or, in some cases, retiring much earlier. Which is why we need a new definition of retirement.

Robert and I retired in our forties, but we didn’t stop working. We defined retirement this way: The point at which you can work or not work, and your wealth grows automatically. In other words, it was when we were earning enough from our investments and passive income streams that we could stop working for the rest of our lives, and would still be supported financially.

In Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert described retirement like this: “It’s like planting a tree. You water it for years, and then one day it doesn’t need you anymore. Its roots are implanted deep enough. Then the tree provides shade for your enjoyment.”

But once we retired, we didn’t jet off to that island to sip margaritas. We kept working, but there was a big difference between the work we did before and after retirement.

Work in our retirement stopped being about the daily stresses of paying bills and having enough income to live on. Instead, we got to focus on the work we were passionate about – building our business educating others on financial literacy. We didn’t work because we had to – we worked because we wanted to, and that made a huge difference.

Entrepreneur vs. Retiree

Becoming an entrepreneur instead of a typical retiree was absolutely the best choice for us, and I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want the same sad song of today’s retirement.

I believe that entrepreneurship can solve many of the problems retirees face today. If you fall under one of the following categories, you should consider turning to entrepreneurship after retirement.

1) Unprepared

The statistics about retirement are staggering. Half of Americans are underprepared for retirement. They aren’t investing enough to live on, or they’re investing in faulty systems like 401(k)s or a simple savings account.

As you approach your retirement years, are you relaxed, knowing you’re prepared to live comfortably for the rest of the days? Or are you panicking about not having enough and squirreling away every spare dime you can?

Maybe you’ve already entered retirement, only to discover that what you had saved was not nearly enough. Instead of turning to another job, now might be the time to start thinking like an entrepreneur.

Retirees make some of the best entrepreneurs. Think about it. They have a lifetime of experience to draw from, vast connections and relationships built up over years, and they’ve witnessed the dramatic changes that have occurred over decades.

Don’t ask me, look at the hundreds of entrepreneurs who are starting businesses in their retirement today. According to the Kauffman Foundation , almost a quarter of entrepreneurs are 55 or older. “This rate means that 370 out of every 100,000 adults in this age group became entrepreneurs in a given month.”

If you underprepared for retirement, the solution is not to live below your means, but expand your means. Don’t go back to working for a job, but build a business that works for you, and supports you as your enter your golden years.

2) Restless

A study by Merrill Lynch found, “Over seven in 10 pre-retirees say they want to work in retirement.”

I’m not surprised by this. A relaxing retirement can quickly turn into a boring one. According to one of the participants in Merrill Lynch’s study, “It took just three years of retirement before the bucket list started getting empty.”

Boomers are living longer, meaning their retirement is stretching for a longer amount of time. This has implications for the financial reality of funding retirement, but it also has an impact on how retirees plan to spend that time.

Staying busy in retirement has many health benefits. It keeps people engaged and active, which positively impacts their health. “Regardless of work status, retirees agree that working in retirement helps people stay more youthful (83%), and that when people don’t work in retirement, their physical and mental abilities decline faster (66%).”

What better way to stay active and working than by starting your own business? Going back to work for someone else at another job doesn’t sound liberating. But starting a business from your passions, something you look forward to working on every day, could turn your boring retirement into an exciting one.

3) Caring

Becoming an entrepreneur after retirement doesn’t have to be about making money. In fact, according to Merrill Lynch’s report, one-third of Boomers in retirement continue to work with the goal of giving back to the community. Many work for nonprofits or contribute as an unpaid volunteer.

Why not turn your compassion into a business that gives back to others?

That’s what Robert and I did with the Rich Dad Company. We wanted to make the world a better place, and the way we decided to do that was by helping others increase their financial knowledge. We built an entire company around helping others.

You can do the same. If you’re looking for a way to support the community around you, consider starting a business that centers on giving back.

Is becoming an entrepreneur right for you?

It’s your retirement, and you should spend your golden years the way you want to, free from financial stress or boredom.

Don’t count yourself out of the entrepreneur game just because you’ve “retired.” This could be the perfect time for you to work towards the life you want.

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