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Small Businesses That You Can Do in Retirement

a person sitting at a table using a laptop

If you’re looking to create a new income stream in retirement, you’ve got no shortage of options. You can become a franchisee, for example, and open up your own location of a branded restaurant — as long as you have hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest and the net worth to back it up. You’ll read a lot about starting a blog or freelancing on Fiverr, but statistically, the chances of ever earning any real money that way is something approaching 0%. 

But if you think simple and stick with what you know and/or love, a regular person can build a legitimate revenue stream without investing much up front and without confronting too much of a learning curve. Here’s a roundup of doable income streams that most regular retirees should be able to launch — and all but one of them can be done from home.

a man sitting at a table using a laptop

Coaching and Consulting

When you retire, you leave your job — but your skills, knowledge and experience follow you to the golf course. That knowledge and experience is in high demand by those who came after — and qualified coaches and consultants can earn good income in retirement by sharing their wisdom. According to ZipRecruiter, consultants earn more than $83,000 a year — hardly chump change for a retiree — but you don’t have to work full time. If you do it as a side hustle in between fishing trips, the national average fee is $40 an hour.

Dog Walking

It’s no secret that the simple act of walking is one of the safest, most beneficial and easiest forms of exercise a person can do — particularly an older person. There’s also a ton of evidence suggesting that contact with dogs is good for both the bodies and minds of people as they age. Aside from the health benefits, dog walking businesses are fairly easy and cheap to set up — like coaches and consultants, there’s very little overhead and no employees to hire. 

You’ll pay for a website and marketing materials, insurance, a business license and pet first aid classes, but all of that comes fairly cheap — one or two expenses could reach into the very low triple digits. The tradeoff, according to HomeGuide, are the fees you’ll collect: up to $35 per walk and up to $60 an hour, all while having fun and staying active.

a man wearing glasses

Your Own Online Store

If you make pottery or earrings or hand-carved wood tchotchkes or anything else, you can sell it online for real money if you’re good. You can make six figures a year, in fact, by opening a store on Etsy — but you almost certainly won’t. A tiny sliver of Etsy sellers actually do report $100,000-plus revenues, but those are outliers who are light years away from the norm. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your hobby pay.

There is no “typical” Etsy seller, but according to an informal poll by the Etsy Conversation Podcast, most respondents reported earning between $1,000-$,5000 a month.

a person sitting at a table looking at a laptop


If you were a teacher or a librarian — or even if you weren’t but you have a passion and a knack for helping people of all ages learn — work as a tutor can be both fulfilling and lucrative. Retirees can start a tutoring business with very little up-front investment, and they can work with kids or adults, in groups or one-on-one, in person or remotely. According to PayScale, the median tutor earns about $18 an hour, but the top earners command more like $40.

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