According to a recent article in the New York Times, many Baby Boomers are starting side businesses as “senior concierges,” providing services to older adults who need help with running errands, driving to appointments, getting groceries, and other daily activities. These senior concierge services have become a growth area in the small business world, as today’s population of seniors often need a variety of supportive services to help them have a good life while enjoying independent living in their own homes. Many small business owners might be looking for new growth ideas, new sales inspiration, or just want to find ways to reach new customers. The story of senior concierge services has some surprising lessons for other small business owners:
Go Where the Opportunities Are: Many people might not think of “services for seniors” as a thriving market to start a business, but the truth is, there are lots of older adults in America who need some level of help. According to the New York Times, by 2030, there will be 72 million people over 65 nationwide. Can your business find a way to offer services to this large and growing demographic? For example, many mobile apps tend to be designed with young people in mind – but what if your mobile app could help seniors solve a specific problem with communication or finding directions or getting recommendations? Is your business “senior friendly?” Or could you go even further and create special products and services that are geared directly toward the interests and needs of older adults?
Think Creatively: Many senior concierge services take care of a wide variety of tasks that most people might not have thought to charge for – such as checking in on older adults, making sure they take their medications, or joining them for playing a board game or a hand of cards. Everyone needs companionship and company, especially as we get older – loneliness is a major health concern for aging adults who might be spending more time alone than they would prefer. More people are looking for help with dealing with the clutter and complexities of daily life, whether it’s an errand running service or personal technical support to help older adults fix their computers. There are business opportunities here if you’re willing to be adaptable and find a way to make money by helping people solve problems.
Connect People: One of the senior concierge services profiled in the Times article was formed by an entrepreneur who had been running an online forum for parents, who realized that many of the site’s users were asking for advice on family care services. Recognizing the unmet need, this business owner started a “sharing economy” business model to connect flexible part-time workers with seniors who need help. In today’s economy, there is a lot of value in building a business that does not necessarily sell a product or service, but that connects buyers and sellers. And most importantly, senior concierge services help create an important human connection between the older adults (who get the help they need with errands, etc.) and with the concierge staff (who get the satisfaction of helping people in need).
As America’s elderly population continues to grow, there will be new opportunities emerging for business owners to serve this market, perhaps with products and services that do not yet exist or are not widely known by name. Many people think that “innovation” is only for the young, but America’s older adults are inspiring some fresh thinking from business owners on how to provide a variety of services such as home delivery, home care, and other supportive assistance. This could be an area of opportunity for your business too.