Retirement and me: 'A no brainer' How one woman tops up her 'very small' pension income

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There’s no shortage of variety when it comes to retirement. From cruises across the world to spending time with friends and family, there’s a whole host of ways in which a person may spend it. While many people may retire from work in their mid-60s, Caroline Nolder, now 68, has chosen to quite the opposite. At the age of 66, she set up her own business, B&B Doctor.

Caroline, from Bruton, Somerset, now consultants clients at their homes, or via online video consultations such as via Facetime, WhatsApp, or Skype, in order to help with their Bed and Breakfast projects.

This flexible job is something which she can take with her all over the world.

So, what inspired her to set up the business in her later years?

“Having run a successful bed and breakfast, former guests started phoning me to ask for advice about how to start their own B&B venture,” she said.

“Our family lived abroad and I felt there was more for me to achieve in life, plus, I love people and projects so embarking on this journey was a no brainer.”

Her previous job role she explains was running “Tea Rooms”, and she had previously trained as a podiatrist and worked at various companies, doctors’ practices, and with a chiropractor.

For Caroline, setting up a business during later in life has brought huge advantages.

“We have created structure in our lives and are multitaskers who have been juggling our family and work lives,” she said of the over 50s.

“We know our strengths and weaknesses, where to turn to for advice and can enlist others to help along the way.”

But what about prejudice – is it something that the entrepreneur has faced?

“Prejudice is irrelevant because it is in your soul what you decide to do,” she replied.

“Negativity is there all your life; don’t listen to it and be delighted by the enthusiasm and support you have from both family and friends.”

But, that’s not to say that there haven’t been challenges.

“A big struggle is finding the energy to keep going and being completely disciplined,” the business founder said.

“If you feel that you are at your limit, phone a friend.

“Also, there are financial implications if you are on a retirement budget; therefore, avoid using your reserves of money, which may be needed for your general welfare.

“Banks are less happy to lend money to people over a certain age, so make sure you know where your finances are coming from.”

When it comes to her own finances, the business owner explained that she has a “very small” private pension and the state pension to cover her living costs.

And, thanks to her business, she uses 20 per cent of the income from the company to top up her pension.

Caroline didn’t need to apply for a loan, with her husband instead investing £1,000 in the business.

“My husband gave me a lump sum of £1,000 and he wants a share in the potential future profits,” she said.

“When you start a business in retirement you have to be very aware that it might not work.

“You must make sure you have the right tools for the trade and be aware of your own shortcomings.

“For example, a business plan should be your mantra. Keep a close eye on your financial structure and try not to deviate from it.”

So, what words of wisdom does she have for fellow entrepreneurs hoping to begin a business as a quinquagenarian, sexagenarian, or in subsequent years?

“Do the groundwork,” she said. “This means using an online platform such as Wix.com to create an excellent website in a fraction of the time with its free templates. Also, take advice from experienced entrepreneurs and have a mentor. This will all be incredibly helpful.

“There are two key pieces for driving customers and traffic – keep your social media platforms updated to keep your audience informed, and remember that online reviews are essential for businesses.”

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