Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Retirement - Internet Style

The other day my accountant informed me that he sold his practice and was moving on to do something else. Doh! He was a very good accountant. He called me up and wanted to meet, which I thought could only mean bad news. As it turned out he wanted to start an Internet business rather than retire. In my grandparents generation if you were standing in front of the door after the retirement party you would probably suffer high impact injuries from them running over you on the way out the door!

Today, with the Internet, people are finding new ways to spend retirement. They are deciding that running a small Internet based business is a great way to earn some extra cash and keep your mind sharp. I love the idea! I am a looooong way from retirement, but I seriously doubt I will ever retire in the traditional sense. Sitting on a beach, even a really nice beach, day after day doing nothing would drive me insane.

Fortunately the Internet comes to the rescue of ADD riddled Internet junkies everywhere by giving business opportunities to retirees and others. For a fraction of the cost of starting a bricks and mortar store you can start an Internet based eCommerce site. Retail not your style, no problem, start a content based site and sell ad space or membership subscriptions. The capital to start such a business is very minimal and by minimal I mean as low as a few hundred bucks. It is easy to run and easy to manage. You can do it with a laptop computer and Internet connection. It may take a few skills that you don't currently possess today, but even those can be learned in a relatively short period of time.

Here is a check list of items to consider before embarking on what could be a seriously cool retirement...
  1. Be realistic: While I never want to be classified as a dream crusher please be realistic about what you want to start and how fast and big it will grow. As the dot bomb era taught us growing into an Internet giant and surviving only happens to a few of the start ups. Starting out and saying you are going to create the next eBay is probably not realistic. Not impossible, but unlikely, so don't set yourself up advance for failure.

  2. Don't Quit Your Day Job: It is possible that you hit the perfect combination of variables and your Internet business starts dumping cash into you lap over night. However the odds are definitely against you on this. Be sure if you are indeed retired that you don't risk the 401(k) funds on this venture. A couple thousand bucks is probably ok. A couple hundred thousand dollars probably not a good idea. If you are receiving a pension or proceeds from retirement investments then you are probably ahead of the game. Take a few hundred or couple of thousand bucks and set it up. You can live off your monthly proceeds while you are building the business. If you are working a full time job and you need the money make sure you don't quit until you have replaced the income, common sense.

  3. Learn the Skills: Be willing to learn the skills to do the work on your own. It is fine to outsource some of the work like programming or design, but you should know how to do your own marketing and web site updates yourself. Once the business is producing revenue it is fine to bring in some big gun talent to help grow the business, but not when you are starting.

  4. Spend the Time: Be willing to put the elbow grease into your business at the beginning. If you create a site and head back out to beach and expect to simply check your bank balances once a month and spend the money you might be disappointed. You have to put the time in to set up, manage, and build this business just like any other. Just because it is located on the Internet doesn't mean the rules of building a business are suspended or go away.

  5. Have Fun: Make sure this is a business that is fun to do. The best are hobbies that you can turn into a cash generator on the web. I have a friend who is a photographer, a pretty good one, and he uses his blog to post pictures and his web site to sell some of his prints. He loves doing it, doesn't require it to support his entire lifestyle, and has a blast at it. If you hate doing it then go back to simple retirement and walk away. That kind of misery isn't worth it even when you must work for a living.
Making money on the Internet is easy to do and can be a cheap, fun, and lucrative business opportunity. It can totally re-define what it means to be "retired". It is truly a marvelous world we live in when a laptop and Internet connection can so dramatically re-define what it means to be retired or working.

Years ago I had a friend in the real estate investment business that said you could lock him in a dark room with a telephone and he would make money. His point was that by using the phone and making deals he could find a way to make money.

Today I can say the same thing. I can be locked in a room with a laptop, Internet connection, and a cell phone and I will find a way to not only set up but grow a fantastic business and make money. It doesn't matter if I am in my working years or "retired" the opportunities are the same. Want to learn more check out some of the info on my web site.