The ‘Baby Boomers’ (born between 1946 and 1964) are now retiring or retired. They have seen, and taken part in, a world transformed by technology. They are also living longer, due to improvements in medical care and health trends. This is very literally, a growing market that presents many opportunities, from providing practical help to bridging some of the technology gaps.
A business idea has potential when you can identify a need, or a problem and you can offer a solution that will meet that need. Here are some ideas that may help you service the silver generation.
In-home Practical or Concierge Services
These are day to day services and errands (non-medical services) that just make life a little easier. You can offer these services directly, or act as an agency. With the increase in crime, older people are wary of who they let into their homes, but they still need assistance. Agencies that offer vetted employees or service providers to provide transportation, cooking, cleaning, shopping, running errands, handling admin, even companionship services, remove the hassle and security concerns.
- Survey your local neighbourhood and community as well as simply listen to the frustrations of your older family members. What do they battle with; what do they want; what can you offer as a solution, that they can pay for regularly on an as-needed basis? Remember your ‘real’ products are simplicity and peace of mind.
Fix-it or Trade-person services
There are two levels of opportunity here, simple tasks and actual skilled work.
This is for those pesky little jobs that need a little strength, mobility or know-how e.g. broken ceiling lights, curtain rails, hinges or general décor like wall painting or fixing shelves. You don’t have to be a skilled craftsperson, simply handy with a toolbox…or better still, able to source those skills and manage the client service.
Plumber, Electrician, Carpenter etc.
There are many businesses out there offering these essential home services, but knowing which can get the job done well, at a fair price, is where the opportunity lies.
- Reliability, quality and trust will be your stock in trade.
Sewing or Tailoring Services
A loss of manual dexterity or failing eyesight is sadly a part of the aging process, which makes needlework a bit of a challenge. From hems to curtains to alterations because of medical conditions, sewing is a marketable skill. I witnessed this when my mother fell and broke both her wrists. None of her blouses were wide enough to accommodate the casts. If you are skilled with a sewing machine or you can source these services, there is an opportunity here. This may even extend to designing clothing ranges that are easy to put on (no fiddly buttons, loose fitting, adjustable), yet still stylish.
- Access to your service and a large enough local market is vital. Consider approaching the managers of retirement villages to supply their residents’ sewing needs, e.g. Monday is mend-it day!
Physical Exercise Services
The science is clear about the link between exercise and physical as well as mental health. Many retirement villages offer exercise classes or fun games for socialising. Covid-19 has created difficulties with indoor activities, but can you identify opportunities for outdoor or online services? Just because someone is retired, don’t assume they cannot use zoom!
If you are a fitness instructor, (yoga, pilates, swimming, dance, sport etc.) programmes which concentrate on strength building, balance and flexibility are essential for older people.
- Naturally, you will need to have a relevant qualification and experience, but this is a potential niche market. Community centres, religious organisations and retirement villages are a great place to advertise your services.
Wi-Fi Connection and Computing Services
While the older generation may not have exactly embraced the 4th industrial revolution, they have been using technology for years. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged a rapid adoption of social media and online communication platforms to stay in touch with family while social distancing.
The saying is true, technology is fantastic… when it works. Opportunities lie in supporting the use of technology and in the easy set-up thereof. The programmers of today are young and they have never known a world without cell phones and computers. They do not design apps or products with the silver generation in mind. Yet, older people are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. Do you have the skills to install, connect and trouble-shoot?
- Technical skill plus patience are the key ingredients here. Consider offering simple support on a retainer basis or offer your skills to retirement villages. Word of mouth referrals will likely keep you remarkably busy.
Can you take your hobby or a skill you have and use it to solve a problem that older people face? The great thing about most service businesses, is that you can start small, with little capital outlay. Use your immediate network of family and friends to build up a referral base, then see how you can market your services to turn silver into gold.
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