The wave of baby boomer retirements is upon us, and as this generation reaches its golden years, new opportunities will reveal themselves for savvy entrepreneurs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 20 percent of U.S. residents are projected to be aged 65 and over by 2030, compared with 13 percent in 2010. That's roughly 65 million people, and that doesn't even account for population growth.
Want to seize the opportunity this growing segment of consumers represent? Here are some niche business ideas for entrepreneurs hoping to capitalize on this growing market. [Ready to start a business? Visit our step-by-step guide to get started.]
1. House sitting
Seniors and retirees who enjoy traveling in their golden years will require extensive and regular house and pet sitting services. Contrary to stereotypes, many seniors are highly active and enjoy being able to take off at a moment's notice. A reliable steward of their home or caretaker for their fur babies, then, is an essential need.
Beyond pet sitting services, dog-walking services are also in high demand. Whether it's the snowbird couple, the spontaneous day trippers or even just someone who needs a hand giving their canine companion the exercise they need, a compassionate and attentive dog walker can turn a decent profit while helping support the community.
It is key that these types of businesses, especially house sitting services, are insured. In the event anything goes awry, you'll want to be sure you're protected from the sometimes steep libailities that come along with home stewardship.
2. Financial planning
The financial aspects of retirement are important issues both for retirees and families with elderly members, who may require expensive care. Financial planning for seniors has several niches, including educating seniors who want to learn about financial and investment management.
"One of the things that I've noticed is that many of them feel ill-prepared for making the very important financial decisions that could determine whether they'll have a successful retirement, or whether they'll end up living well below the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed," said Douglas Goldstein, CFP, investment advisor and author of "Rich as a King: How the Wisdom of Chess Can Make You a Grandmaster of Investing" (Morgan James Publishing, 2014).
Goldstein said he's found that seniors want to learn how to find solutions to their financial-planning problems, and that they're also willing to turn to the Web for answers — an avenue he believes is ripe with opportunity for entrepreneurs targeting the seniors market.
"I believe that the transformation of education to online forums represents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs," Goldstein said.
3. In-home care
For the elderly who prefer to stay in their own homes instead of moving to an assisted living facility or retirement residence, maintenance and housekeeping may become more difficult as they age. These challenges represent many opportunities for service businesses that help the elderly around the house, including those who do specialized renovation and contracting work.
"Most homeowners can relate to the difficulty in finding reliable contractors to work in their home, but for senior homeowners in particular, this can be a tremendous challenge," said Debra Cohen, founder of Homeowner Referral Network.
Cohen said that unscrupulous contractors may prey on seniors, and many of this population's homes need safety modifications.
"After my own experience trying to take care of my elderly parents in their home several states away, I personally realized the value a contractor referral business offers to senior homeowners who want to age in place," she said.
This led Cohen to launch her business, which serves the needs of senior homeowners by pre-screening contractors to ensure they have the appropriate licenses and insurance.
Home and personal safety technology represents another home-related niche with growing demand in the seniors market, said Nicki Morris, a consultant and owner of business coaching service The Neoteric Group.
"Personal alarms with motion and fall-detection technology can be used to notify a loved one or emergency medical services in the event of a fall," Morris said.
4. Selling or storing possessions
Not all seniors stay in the home where they raised their kids. They may downsize, or eventually move to a nursing home. If so, they'll need help either selling their lifelong possessions, or storing them. This is a busy niche, said C. Dianne Zweig, editor and founder of IAntiqueOnline.com. This site allows antique dealers, estate sales managers and others in the antique community to connect online with seniors selling antiques.
And what about seniors and retirees who downsize but don't want to sell their possessions?
"There will be more demand for self-storage units where these boomers can keep possessions that they don't want to part with, everything from antique furniture to treasured sets of china," said John Egan, a content marketing professional and the former editor-in-chief at self-storage booking site SpareFoot.
"Entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize on the boomer market, especially entrepreneurs with experience in commercial real estate, would be wise to take a look at buying or developing self-storage facilities in Florida, Texas and other states that are boomer magnets," said Egan.
Additional reporting by Adam C. Uzialko. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.