The 14 Best Business Ideas for Retirees


Just because you retired from your 9-5 doesn’t mean you have to stop working entirely. Whether you’re eager to keep your mind active, you need additional income, or you just want to stay busy, there are countless activities that are a good fit for seasoned former professionals. Read on for the top retirement business ideas for 2021. 

1. Start a Consulting Business 

This first one is a bit of a soft ball, since it’s really just common sense. What did you do in your professional career prior to retiring? Did your colleagues often say you were their go-to source for advice because of your expertise? Then consulting would likely be perfect for you.

Consulting is a great way to utilize all the knowledge you’ve built over your long career and also allows you to stay abreast of changes in your field even after you’re formally retired. To get started with consulting, you should cast a wide net: Post an announcement on your LinkedIn profile and contact former colleagues, clients, and even your former employer to let them know you’re available to continue working with them, and ask them to pass on your information to people in their networks.

Learn more in our guide to starting a consulting business.

2. Start a Bookkeeping Business

If you’re good with numbers, bookkeeping might be a great way to make a few bucks in retirement. Bookkeeping involves tracking and maintaining a log of the daily transactions for businesses. This allows the business owner to stay on top of how the business is performing and make the necessary adjustments. Bookkeepers also prepare and process invoices. Many small business owners seek help on the financial side of things so they can remain focused on running their business.

Accountants take the information collected by a bookkeeper and then analyze it further to prepare pertinent financial documents for filing. So if you’re a certified public accountant, your services could be even more in demand.

Read our complete guide to starting a bookkeeping business.

3. Start a Handyman Business

Is your favorite accessory your tool belt? Are you constantly wandering around your house looking for a leaky faucet or a flickering light because you’re eager for something to repair? Then starting a handyman business is ideal for you. If you already have the necessary tools and a job-appropriate vehicle, then the startup costs will be minimal. 

That said, you may need to look into procuring specific licenses depending upon the requirements of your local government. Learn more in our guide to starting a handyman business

4. Start a Gardening Business

Gardening isn’t just a hobby, it’s also a potentially lucrative business. If you have a green thumb and love the outdoors, consider starting a gardening business. Gardens and lawns require constant upkeep, and many homeowners simply don’t have time to handle that and instead hire a gardener to do the work for them. That’s where you can come in. Typical gardener responsibilities include planting and watering, trimming hedges, and mowing lawns.

The work can be seasonal, so it’s a better option in areas where the temperatures are consistent year-round. But in areas that experience all the seasons—you may be able to make up some of your lost winter wages by raking leaves in the fall. 

5. Flip Houses

Flipping houses is another solid retirement business idea—albeit one that requires a significant upfront investment. But if you or your spouse are gifted at home renovation or interior design, then you might decide to start a business flipping houses. Essentially what this means is you purchase a property that’s older or needs significant work at an affordable price point with the plan to renovate it before selling it at a profit.

In addition to the capital required to purchase the home, you’ll need to budget for home improvement supplies and—if you decide to hire professionals to do the work for you—labor. Learn more in our guide to starting a house-flipping business.

6. Open a Bed and Breakfast

Do you own a home that possesses a unique, quaint charm? Do you love rising early to brew a pot of coffee and cook eggs and bacon? Then opening a bed and breakfast might be your dream retirement business. Deciding to run a full-fledged B&B is one of the more complicated business ideas on this list so you’ll likely find it helpful to read our full guide on opening a bed and breakfast.

7. Become an Airbnb Host

If establishing and running a bed and breakfast seems too complicated, consider becoming an Airbnb host instead. On average Airbnb hosts make a little under $1,000 per month[1], so it’s a great option if you’re a retiree looking for some supplemental income. You can rent out a single room, a private space (like a basement or a pool house), or even your entire house. There are Airbnb hosts who list apartments or homes they’re renting, but make sure this is allowable under the terms of your lease and local laws.

Read more in our guide on becoming an Airbnb host.

8. Start a Craft Business

Arts and crafts aren’t just a summer camp activity—they’re also a business opportunity. If you’re on the artistic side, you could consider starting a craft business. If you’re looking to sell your wares online, Etsy is the go-to for many people. Keep in mind that there are fees to post your items on Etsy and other ecommerce sites. If you’d prefer to avoid paying those, consider doing in-person events that take place in your local community. For example you could set up a booth at a local antique festival or flea market.

9. Start a Home-Based Food Business

Cookies and cupcakes. Mhmm! Just the thought of them is enough to make your mouth water if you’ve got a sweet tooth. But they’re also potential home-based business ideas. If you love to bake, and consider yourself to be particularly talented at it, you can start a retirement business making cookies or cupcakes (or any other baked good that strikes your fancy).

We recommend pitching your baked goods to caterers and setting up a relationship with them as a supplier. Cupcake darling Baked by Melissa started off by working with a NYC caterer and now has 14 locations in the New York metropolitan area[2]

10. Sell Items Online

We’re willing to bet money that you have items around your house that you don’t use or need. Next time you do a deep clean, consider setting aside any items that you could potentially resell online for cold, hard cash. Do note that these belongings should be gently used (or ideally like new!) and in good shape. E

commerce sites like eBay and Amazon have simplified the process of selling items to basically the click of a button. And sites like Poshmark and ThredUp are good options for selling used clothing.

There are fees to list items for sale on some of these sites, while others take a cut once the item has sold, so keep that in mind when determining your asking prices. 

11. Become an Uber or Lyft Driver

If you have a driver’s license and a four-door car, then you’re already on your way to becoming an Uber or Lyft driver. Your first step is checking to see what rideshare opportunities are available in your city (check out Uber’s list here and Lyft’s here). Next you’ll apply to become a driver which involves submitting to a background check.

Rideshare drivers make more money during busy periods, such as after sporting events or concerts, so having a flexible schedule will go a long way toward allowing you to take advantage of those surge pricing opportunities. Plus, if you enjoy meeting and chatting with new people, driving for a rideshare allows you to do just that (and build up your star rating in the process).

Learn more about how to qualify in our guide on how to become an Uber driver.

12. Offer Life Coaching

As a retiree, you’ve already led a pretty full life. You’ve likely had a lot of experiences—personal, professional, and romantic—so why not share those experiences and offer advice as a life coach? One of the benefits about being a life coach is that ongoing business costs are quite low. A physical business location isn’t necessary and you can find clients via word-of-mouth.

Although it’s not a requirement, becoming a certified life coach can add gravitas to your venture. There are accredited courses that cost as little as $1,000. Read more in our guide to becoming a life coach.

13. Start a Pet Sitting Business

Loving animals is a prerequisite for this one. But if that sounds like you, pet sitting may be calling—or barking!—your name. One of the biggest benefits of pet sitting are the low startup costs, since the business can be done at your home or your clients’ homes.

You could also consider working as a dog walker. After all, dog owners need someone to walk their beloved pets when they’re at the office or vacationing out of town. If you want the ease of having the backing of an established company, you can apply to work as a walker through Wag!.

Learn more in our guides to starting a pet sitting business and starting a dog walking business.

14. Start a Tutoring Business

Tutoring isn’t only for retired teachers and educators—although it certainly doesn’t hurt if you’re one. If you have a particular area of expertise and it happens to overlap with a school subject, tutoring may be the perfect retirement business opportunity for you. Tutors are also in high demand for assisting high school students with preparation for the standardized tests that are part of the collegiate admissions process. Additionally, tutoring allows for a flexible schedule and the ability to conduct sessions remotely, so you don’t even have to leave your home.

Read more in our guide to starting a tutoring business.

The Bottom Line

As you can see there are plenty of business ideas that retirees can do in their newfound free time, but that require a little less of a commitment, so you can still enjoy your well-earned rest and relaxation. This is by no means an exhaustive list—instead it’s meant to get you brainstorming what might be a good fit for your twilight years, so you can kick your retirement business into gear.

Article Sources:

  1. “Here’s How Much the Average Airbnb Host Earns in a Month.”
  2. “How the Founder of Baked by Melissa Recovered From Her First Holiday Sales Disaster.”


Sally Lauckner

Sally Lauckner is the editor-in-chief of JustBusiness and the editorial director at Fundera.

Sally joined Fundera in 2018 and has almost 15 years of experience in print and online journalism. Previously she was the senior editor at SmartAsset—a Y Combinator-backed fintech startup that provides personal finance advice. There, she edited articles and data reports on topics including taxes, mortgages, banking, credit cards, investing, insurance, and retirement planning. She has also held various editorial roles at, Huffington Post, and Glamour magazine. Her work has also appeared in Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and ColoradoBiz magazines, as well as Yelp, SmallBizClub, and BizCrat.

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