Starting a business as a second career

Living and Aging Well: Column by Denise Grills
Posted 3/2/21

Older adult entrepreneurs have many prized advantages. Most importantly — you know stuff. You have experience budgeting both in your career and at home. You have industry knowledge and can identify …

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Starting a business as a second career


Older adult entrepreneurs have many prized advantages. Most importantly — you know stuff. You have experience budgeting both in your career and at home. You have industry knowledge and can identify areas where you may add value to your previous employer’s business as a partner or competitor. You know how to focus and strategize to reach your goals. You have an extensive network. You have loan credit and street cred. You are getting the COVID vaccine first and can rejoin the outside world safely!

The 2020 pandemic and related economic and political uncertainty may have discouraged you. But 2021 is a good time to start your business for many reasons including new technology and support offerings, state and federal government support, and acceptance for working virtually.

New technology and platforms can help you get started pursuing a business that you are passionate about. You might have a hobby you enjoy and realize that your friends are all asking to buy your product, so post on the Etsy Global Marketplace. You love dogs or cats, so sign up with Rover for dog walking and services. Tinkering around the house and fixing things is your idea of fun, so join TaskRabbit. All are a good low-risk way to start your own business.

While startup expenses in the past included costly investment in bookkeeping, online accounting services minimize this initial risk and cost and may be free for small numbers of users or employees. You can move to paid plans as your business grows and complexity increases. QuickBooks, Plooto, and Zero are easy-to-use financial systems. Marketing automation companies like HubSpot and Marketo jump-start your sales and marketing programs. Multiple website builders like Wix and Squarespace offer easy-to-start websites. AARP has a wealth of resources to “Be Your Own Boss” including excellent business plan and marketing worksheets. Payroll and benefit providers like Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll can take you from one employee to hundreds. Build a brand kit and amp up your images and content with sites like Canva or Nicepage.

Support for small businesses is a big part of new government programs. The Colorado State, Small Business Small Business Development Center and Small Business Administration websites feature information from getting started in a business to COVID-related assistance. The Douglas County Library offers online learning that includes using LinkedIn Learning for free. You can learn everything from using Microsoft Excel PivotTables to Small Business Marketing. (Information on LinkedIn Learning [formerly] can be found on the library website,, in the “Library Perks” section under “Library Info.”)

The new ability to work remotely benefits anyone with mobility, immunity, or transportation issues while running a home business. If you are using Zoom to check in on your grandchildren or book club, you can use those skills to provide services or hold meetings virtually. Remember to have a professional background in your home office or use a virtual background which can be found easily by googling “Zoom Backgrounds.”

You don’t have to jump in and use all of the above resources immediately, but pick one area and get started. There are as many resources to help you start your business as you have dreams and ideas. The best time to start is now!

Denise Grills is a veteran of the software industry with 35 years with IBM and Oracle in marketing and development. In 2020, she started her own consulting and coaching business: Denise Grills, CEO - Denise Grills Consulting and Coaching.

To learn more contact, call 303-249-8936 or visit

This column is hosted by the Seniors’ Council of Douglas County. Please join us for our next virtual online presentation April 1 at 10 a.m. Denise Grills will be our presenter and provide an overview on starting a business. For more information, please visit, email or call 303-663-7681.


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