Many Baby Boomers find themselves suddenly tasked with caring for an aging parent or loved one. Caregiving demands time that once went into full-time work or even a second job that provided much-needed income.
If you find yourself in this situation, you may be lucky enough to have an employer who will allow you to work from home when needed. If not, self-employment could give you the flexibility you need to both provide for yourself and provide the care your loved one needs.
Benefits of Self-Employment
- Work from home (or anywhere you choose)
Transitioning to freelancing, self-employment or running a home-based business allows you to work from home, so you’re always around when needed for caregiving and housekeeping tasks.
- Set your own schedule
When you’re in charge, you set your own hours and can work when you’re most productive. You can also set your work schedule around your caregiving schedule to be available for doctor appointments, daily physical therapy, meals, etc., without interrupting your workflow.
- Choose your priorities
Self-employment, particularly freelancing, allows you to choose your own priorities rather than being tied to the priorities of an employer. If you need to reduce your workload to give yourself a break or focus on the pressing needs of your family, you can simply slow the pace of your pitches or turn down assignments. If you know you’ll be available for extra focus on work, you can take on a little extra to pad your pockets for those slower work periods.
3 Types of Self-Employment
Freelancing is one of the simplest forms of self-employment. Many of your skills as an employee transfer directly to freelance work, because you’ll typically be working to meet the needs of a client, just as you worked to meet the needs of your employer. The difference is you get to be your own boss, so you set your own priorities and schedule — as well as take on the associated responsibilities, like finding health care, paying taxes, etc.
You can apply your years of experience in your industry to consulting for those just getting started. Consulting tends to command an impressive hourly rate, since your services can lead to direct earning opportunities for your clients. You may have the chance to be a consultant for a company in your industry (or the one you already work for), if their requirements are flexible enough to meet your needs.
You can also choose the freedom of working for yourself. One downside is the burden of attracting new clients; you’ll have to be schooled in branding and marketing and comfortable with self-promotion.
- Solo business
An independent business no longer needs a brick-and-mortar home. A website can be your “storefront,” and you can use free channels like blogging and social media to promote your goods and services. Without hefty investments in employees or real estate, “Solopreneurs” can build businesses with client-based services like freelancing and consulting, offer online and in-person classes and/or sell handmade products.
A Few Ideas to Get You Started
If you’ve been an employee your whole adult life, the idea of transitioning to self-employment can be daunting. We’ve shared some tips for launching a new career at any age, but that may not help you determine what, exactly, you can do. Consider these specific ideas to turn your skills and passions into money and boost your bottom line during tough times:
- Harness your passion for writing, and become a freelance blogger.
- Finish the novel you’ve always thought about, self-publish it and sell it on Amazon.
- Use your experience as an educator to develop an online course on an in-demand topic.
- Sell the quilts you sew for fun at the local farmers’ market and/or online through an Etsy store.
- Talk to a local grocery, convenience, or clothing store about selling your hand-knitted scarves, socks, hats, etc. on consignment.
- Ask your current or former company if they need a consultant with your expertise.
- Rent or reserve a local space to teach a class in something you love, like yoga, woodworking or knitting.
- Write a how-to book (or series) with your unique perspective and tips on your favorite hobby.
- Babysit local kids or start a daycare in your home.
Have you stayed home to care for a loved one? What methods did you use to make ends meet when you couldn’t go to work?