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Baby Boomers Boost Home-Based Business Market

Written by on Thursday, 05 August 2004 7:00 pm

Baby boomers are reinventing retirement -- at home.

Unlike previous generations, most baby boomers plan to remain in their current home when they retire and they plan to continue working.

That makes them prime candidates for working at home, a trend not lost on Paul and Sarah Edwards, best-selling, self-employed, work-at-home experts who've just released their latest book "The Best Home Business For People 50+" ($16.95, Tarcher/Penguin) likely to become Bible for the graying work-at-home set.

Baby boomers both, Paul and Sarah Edwards have made successful careers out of working at home and helping others do the same.

Baby boomers, Americans born between 1946 and 1964 and now aged 40 to 58 represent a population bulge of 75 million people who are redefining the second half of life.

AARP estimates that 70 percent of those 45 and older plan to continue working in their "retirement" years and AARP's "Fixing To Stay Put," likewise says 71 percent of Americans aged 45 and over plan to stay in their own homes when they retire.

Older Americans already have a larger share of people who are self-employed. While only 10 percent of the general population is self-employed, the rate is 16 percent for boomers, according to American Demographics.

It makes sense they'd want to work at home.

The desire to work among boomers, the book says, is often simply their love of labor and the value of being a free and independent agent. Ageism in the corporate workplace is an underlying cause.

Older Americans are also more financially astute and understand they may have to protect their financial security given the weakness in the Social Security system. Stock market losses in the 1990s ruined many retirement plans and forced boomers to seek extra income.

But boomers are also members of the Peter Pan Generation, people who reject growing old the old fashioned way, but instead seek new, stimulating and challenging endeavors.

During an interview, Paul Edwards cited studies that revealed the percentage of jobless managers and executives starting their own business has moved from 19 percent in 2000 to 25 percent now. Also, he said, two out of three of all new businesses start at home. And 20 percent of all pre-retirees want to start a business after they turn 50, compared to only 17 percent in 1998.

What's more, medical science allows people to live longer, healthier lives. Why not bank on longevity with Frank Sinatra lyrics in mind?

For those who take the "my way" approach to work life instead of the "bye way," Edwards' new book is a blue print to help boomers bank on a business in the home. It offers information on selecting, starting, running and building a career based on individual needs, talents and ideals specific to the over-50 generation.

With businesses ranging from Antiquing to Virtual Assistance, the potential businesses are listed in four categories -- serving business clients; serving businesses and consumers; helping individuals and families and making hobbies a job.

Each business listing is one that boomers can continue to perform for 10 to 15 years, they are jobs that typically come with flexible hours that can be structured to allow time for family, travel, leisure and other life priorities, they are not location specific jobs and they can accommodate a wide range of health and wellness needs.

Paul and Sarah Edwards say the businesses listed are tried-and-true -- appealing and reliable in terms of generating income without undo effort or risk.

That doesn't mean they are easy jobs.

"Best Home Businesses" provides background information, demands and the skills required for each job. It discusses start-up costs, overhead, potential earnings, and job flexibility. It also provides marketing insights, the best ways to drum up business and it directs the potential home-based business owner to additional resources specific to the job at hand.

Edwards said the most popular home-based start-ups are boomers simply transforming fun into cash.

"They turn a hobby into income. There is a man in Silicon Valley who had been with a variety of high tech firms and just discovered ceramics by accident and is now a successful potter," Edwards said.

That trend exemplifies the value of transferable skills, which is discussed in the book for each home-based job.

"Another one is home inspector. There are many people from the building and construction trades whose knees and elbows aren't working like they used to," said Edwards.

"And anything to do with medicine, medical billing, medical transcription. It's a field that has been the target of scam investigations, but these can be legitimate businesses. Also there are a lot of businesses associated with pets. People love animals and caring for them is something people can do," he said.

Editing, writing and editorial services are also included among some of the most popular work-at-home gigs, said Edwards. Almost everyone can write. Few write well.

The book is an inside-out read that comes with graphic icons allowing the reader to easily scan for jobs and determine which require extensive brain work, telephone use, desk work, standing work, solitary work, face-to-face interaction, indoor or outdoor work and full- or part-time work among other requirements.

Adding a personal touch, the authors have included profiles of successful 50-plusers along with many of the job descriptions.

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  About the author, Broderick Perkins

Individual news stories are based upon the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of Realty Times.