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Q: My mom is not your typical retiree – she is very active, quite healthy, travels a lot, still looks for investments, works part time and so on. I think there might be an opportunity to cater to this new breed of older Americans. Do you know what it might be? — Stu

A: No, I don't know what it is specifically, but I can say that you are on to something generally – this year, about 3 million Americans will turn 60, and that will continue for the next 15 years as the Baby Boom generation starts to age and "retire."

And because the Baby Boom generation is in fact so massive, this is, quite literally, a once in a lifetime opportunity, for several reasons:

  • Like it or not, the Boomers have been at the forefront of a variety of important issues and events: Vietnam, the sexual revolution, civil rights, the self-awareness movement of the '70s and the health craze of the '80s, to name a few. These are people who will always see themselves as open-minded and young. Willing to try out new ideas, the Boomers are a creative entrepreneur's dream.
  • Even with the stock market crash, the Boomer generation is still one of the wealthiest in American history. Despite smaller portfolios, many of them will enter their retirement years with plenty of disposable income.
  • The sheer number of Baby Boomers has always made them a force to reckon with, and this will remain true as they age.
  • Finally, the Boomers will likely not only be the healthiest old fogies around, but due to advances in medicine and health, they will not be dying off any time soon. People 60 years old today have a life expectancy of 82, but don't be surprised to see many live into their 100s.

While getting older certainly will have a huge psychological impact on the Boomer generation, from a small business perspective, this uncharted territory offers some incredible opportunities. Because the Baby Boomers tend to do things their own way, they are also "retiring" in an unconventional manner: Far more active, far more engaged, and far healthier than earlier generations.

And that is where the entrepreneurial opportunities will lie.

Indeed, not a few small businesses have already cropped up in an attempt to cater to the aging Boomer. These businesses are helping clients in a variety of ways: Creating active and green travel events, coaching them about new career opportunities, helping them stay healthy and much more.

And if it is true that business success comes when you help people solve problems (and it does), it follows then that the financial and retirement issues many Boomers now face will also create ample other business opportunities. Thus, a potential booming (sorry!) industry right now is one where entrepreneurs assist Baby Boomers with battered portfolios rebound and/or create what have been called "encore careers."

It would behoove you to consider other ideas, such as:

  • Businesses that offer anti-aging options.
  • Businesses that cater to a desire for active recreation – think former President Bush (though not a Baby Boomer) skydiving on his 80th and 85th birthdays.
  • A business that helps Boomers help the world – older Baby Boomers are active givers of time and money.
  • E-help: Apparently, this Internet/computer revolution thing isn't going anywhere, and the options can get dizzying, even for us in the loop. Consider how overwhelming it must look to some seniors.

Obviously, there certainly is no shortage of possibilities here, and the point is that this confluence – a huge, healthy, open-minded, aging generation, and one that is looking to stay active — will make some forward-thinking entrepreneurs very, very happy.

So get those thinking caps on and white boards out. It is time for some brainstorming.

P.S. And by the way, yes, we're t-t-talking 'bout my generation. Yes, my generation!

© 2010 Steven D. Strauss,