Turn your silver into gold!


Running a business in your silver years, is not just a good way of making your pension last longer, it may also keep you in better physical and mental health. While most working people dream of spending their days reading and taking strolls, the reality is we all benefit from having a reason to get up in the morning.

If you have taken early retirement or you’re approaching that age, now is the time to start thinking about things you can do to remain economically and mentally fit. You may have a side hustle or a hobby that can be monetised, or you may have a marketable skill. Most retirees are in the unique business start-up position of not being entirely dependent on the business for a living, due to pension or R.A. pay-outs, as well as having less expenses because children are grown and flown, thus reducing the usual financial stresses of starting a business. Here are 10 low-investment service based business ideas worth exploring.

Consulting and Coaching

The saying goes that it takes 10 000 hours to become an expert. You may have the knowledge, skills, and experience that many businesses need, but they cannot afford to employ someone full time. Your previous business network is a perfect starting point to build up referrals and references. With social distancing and the increasing popularity of online communication platforms, online consulting and coaching is a practical and cost-effective way to continue to earn.

Bookkeeping & Administration

If you have a financial, bookkeeping or administrative background, these skills are in short supply in most small businesses and few business owners can afford full-time personnel. Offering these services on an hourly or retainer basis can be an easy source of income, especially if you set up a virtual offering. Organisation, reliability and trustworthiness will be your greatest assets.

Concierge or Personal Assistance Services

Smaller business owners or busy professionals often need the services of a reliable and savvy assistant to take care of those personal admin jobs that need to be done (e.g. RICA, FICA, passports and ID, sorting out incorrect bills etc.), but just take too much time out of a 25-hour day. By offering a concierge or personal assistance business, you can service that market by either offering your personal services to several different clients, or by managing the service offered by other providers. Most of these tasks can be performed virtually, making it an ideal home-based business.

Marketing Talents or Skills

Do you cook well? Have you got green fingers? Are you handy around the house? Can you sew or bake? Neighbourhood Whats App or Facebook groups are full of people seeking these skills and more. Nearly any skill you have can be turned into a home-based business. There is a growing interest in personalised, reliable and affordable products or services. What can you do well that other people appreciate? Ask family and friends to recommend your ready-to-heat lasagnes or customised cupcakes. Social media is a powerful marketing tool, as is YouTube. Enlist your grandchildren in making videos and social posts of what you do!

Monetise your Hobby or Sport

If you have a hobby, it implies that you have a passion or at least an interest in something. It may be photography or cycling or collecting comic books. You are already in the position of having some knowledge of the subject and you are likely a member of online or physical groups that share the same passion. Can you offer coaching or make instructional videos? Can you set up a Facebook page to sell new & used products to this niche market? Perhaps you can arrange events, physical or online, that will interest people?

Freelance Writing/Blogging

All businesses need to increase their digital presence and to do this, they need content, whether it is the generation of articles, social media posts or product descriptions. English may be the business language in South Africa, but few people are competent in writing skills. If you have a good command of the language, research skills, access to a computer and a stable internet connection, you are well placed to find freelance writing work.

Blogging is another option if you have original, interesting, or entertaining content. Use social media and business platforms such as LinkedIn, to publish examples of your work. Join business and special interest groups to be aware of trends and become known as a contributor. If you have great information that is easy-to-read or entertaining stories, people will read what you post. A large following attracts advertisers and hence the ability to earn an income from your blog.

Chauffeur and Driving Services

Many seniors and people with special needs are unable to drive. A resistance to or lack of familiarity with technology-based services such as Uber and a wariness of strangers means that many people rely on family and friends to get out and about, increasing dependency and loneliness. A specialised chauffeur or errand business requires a car, good driving skills and patience. Retirement villages and community centres or religious organisations are a logical place to advertise your services. There is also scope to manage these services with a pool of reliable drivers. The key to success will be in the sensitivity with which customers are treated.

Travel Tour Guide

In time, Covid-19 will hopefully have a vaccine, or a treatment and travel will once again become a viable option. If you love to travel, or you are a passionate hiker or you are an amateur historian, why not get paid for sharing your passion? The work is fun, you get your expenses paid and while you may earn little, tips can be lucrative.

If you are energetic, knowledgeable, well organised, and enjoy working with people this can be extremely rewarding.


We tend to assume that babysitting, or childcare is what students do, not older people. Yet, many families gratefully rely on grandparents to assist with childcare or the school run. In fact, who better to take care of children than someone who has already done it? If you love children, consider childcare as a business opportunity… rent-a-granny! References, a driver’s licence and a criminal record check are definite requirements. As with most of the ideas in this article, this can also be scaled up with you managing the services provided by others.

House and Pet Sitting / Dog Walking

There are opportunities for animal lovers to offer their services to care for animals and homes while people are on holiday, or to walk dogs whose owners may work long hours or travel frequently. Many pet owners prefer not to kennel their animals and they are willing to pay for someone to stay at or visit their house to look after their pets.

Start small with a home-based or service business and test the waters before investing significantly in tools or equipment. This is supposed to enhance your retirement, not expose you to high risk! To help you get started the right way, complete the Get into Gear Handbook.

Author: Janet Askew


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