Category Archives: Business

How To Boost Your Career

Your relationship with your boss is critical to your success. But there’s another person who often has just as much influence over your career: your boss’s boss. What should your relationship with that person look like? How often should you interact with her? What should you say? And how do you foster a connection without undermining your direct manager?

What the Experts Say
“The more you are known and respected by people above you, the better off you are from a career standpoint,” says Priscilla Claman, the president of Career Strategies, a Boston-based consulting firm and a contributor to the HBR Guide to Getting the Right Job. And your boss’s boss — a person who “knows the scoop, knows the vision of the organization, and is helping set the strategy” — is a good person to get to know, she adds. The stronger your relationship, the more insight you’ll have into your company’s future. Moreover, having your boss’s boss on your side gives you professional leverage, says Karen Dillon, coauthor of How Will You Measure Your Life? “Having that person as your champion increases the likelihood that your promotion will be approved, your raise will go through, and you’ll be considered for that next great assignment.” And yet, connecting with your manager’s manager is “a delicate dance,” since your boss is still the “middleman,” she says. Here are some strategies for getting the dance right.

Show enthusiasm
One of the best ways to show your value to higher-ups is to “be present and engaged” in your organization, says Dillon. “If your boss’s boss is giving a lunch talk or a town hall meeting, go to it. Sit in front. Ask questions. Continue the conversation in the hallway.” Show that you care about your company and that you are serious about your career. After all, “your boss’s boss should want to see you succeed. You need to demonstrate your eagerness to do so.” Claman recommends seizing opportunities to touch base and asking information-based questions, such as: ”Do you have a contact that could help me with a particular assignment?” or “Can you recommend a book that could improve my understanding of [a relevant business issue]?” Ask your manager for suggestions first, and then ask if her boss might have more ideas. “People are generally willing to help with these kinds of questions because it allows them to show how knowledgeable they are,” Claman says.

Find a common bond
It’s important to “remember your boss’s boss is a human being,” says Dillon. “Find a way to connect on a human level.” Perhaps she’s a movie fan, an avid skier, or maybe she really enjoys cooking. “It might take digging,” but it’s worthwhile to forge a bond that’s not solely related to work. Also bear in mind the corporate truism that it’s lonelyat the top, so your efforts will probably be welcome, adds Dillon. At the very least, “don’t avoid this person.” But also consider “asking her to lunch” or just “engaging her for 30 seconds at the water cooler about her weekend plans, the Oscars, or last night’s baseball game.” At the same time, don’t beat yourself up if you find it difficult to build a friendly rapport. “There are some people in this world that are you are not going to win over,” says Claman. In these cases, you’ll have to court your boss’s boss the way you would a “difficult customer.”

Raise your profile
Just doing good work is “not enough to get noticed” by people higher up the command chain, Dillon says. So “make sure you’re not too heads-down or never claim credit” for your ideas. You don’t want to suck up or brag, but a little horn-tooting may be necessary. Pass on compliments you receive from customers and colleagues to your manager, who will probably send them to his boss, since your success reflects positively on him. Claman suggests you also “take an entrepreneurial approach to your job and the tasks you’re asked to complete.” Pitching solutions that solve your organization’s problems is standard practice for managing up. So offer ideas for new initiatives or “how to do things better and faster.” Some of these suggestions will require approval, and “moving ideas up the hierarchy creates an opportunity to talk to your manager and his manager,” Claman says. Another way to raise your profile with your boss’s boss is by volunteering for a cross-functional committee — preferably one run by him. This both deepens your ties to him and increases your visibility. It’s also worth asking, with your manager’s blessing, if you can attend certain high-level meetings. You’ll increase your exposure to other parts of the company, expand your network, and “develop a personal reputation that’s not tied to your boss.”

Remember who’s #1
Having a good relationship with your boss’s boss is a wonderful thing — but don’t prioritize it over the one you should be developing with your manager, says Dillon. Keep her in the loop and include her on all communication you have with higher-ups. The adage “Gossip as if people are listening” applies here, she adds. Assume that your boss will hear about any interactions you have with her manager. “Don’t do anything to surprise her, and don’t make it look like you can’t wait for her to get out of the way,” Dillon says. “The worst thing that can happen is that you make your boss feel insecure.” Claman agrees: “Don’t go around your boss. Show your loyalty. No matter what organizations may say about having an open-door policy, there are norms” that you must respect.

Principles to Remember

Do:

  • Seize opportunities to touch base with your boss’s boss by asking information-based questions
  • Improve your visibility by suggesting new ideas or volunteering for a cross-functional team
  • Pass on compliments you receive from customers and colleagues to your manager. Your boss will likely send the kudos up the chain of command.

Don’t:

  • Forget that your boss’s boss is a human being. Try to find something in common.
  • Be blasé. Show your value to your boss’s boss by being present and engaged in your organization.
  • Neglect your primary work relationship. Your supervisor still has the greatest influence over your career.

Case Study #1: Tend to your primary work relationship by finding solutions to your boss’s problems
When Faye Patzner first joined CUNA Mutual Group, which provides financial products and services to credit unions, she worked in the company’s legal department. She quickly picked up on the fact that her direct manager, “Sue,” had a strained relationship with her own boss, “Jim.” Making matters worse, Jim sometimes came directly to Faye whenever he had questions or concerns.

To improve the working relationships all around, Faye focused first on building trust with her manager. Whenever Faye had a conversation with Jim, she let Sue know. “And in joint meetings, I would say, ‘Sue and I have talked and here’s what we believe.’ If I knew Sue saw something differently than I did, I would lay out all the facts and then say something like, ‘You can look at this issue a lot of different ways. Here is where I come out.’”

She also put herself “in Jim’s shoes” by trying to understand “the business problems he had.”

When Sue eventually moved on, Jim hired a replacement from the outside, “Sean,” with whom he had worked in a previous company. Faye soon realized she had a new challenge: access. Sean was territorial and wouldn’t let her attend high-level meetings. Realizing he “needed to demonstrate that he could navigate the organization,” she opted to help him. “I had conversations with him about what our partners and clients were concerned about and helped him feel comfortable with the business issues. After Sean felt he could trust me, he started asking me to attend the meetings.”

Faye continued to voice her opinions to Jim and to show him “enthusiasm,” “high energy,” and engagement in an effort to deepen their connection, but she notes that she was “always judicious” and “made sure to do it in a nonthreatening way.” Ultimately, she developed very strong relationships with both Jim and Sean. Today she is the chief administrative officer of CUNA.

Case Study #2: Make your boss look good by being an exemplary employee — and don’t force a relationship with your boss’s boss
Paul Raden knows all too well the challenges of developing a positive, healthy relationship with a boss’s boss. Earlier in his career, he was the director of marketing at a “very hierarchical” organization with a “prickly” CEO, to whom his manager reported. “Most people were not comfortable talking to him,” Paul recalls. “He used to hold one-on-one meetings with team members on Saturday mornings because he wanted to make sure people were still working on the weekends. It was a frenzied culture, and it created a lot of anxiety.”

It didn’t take long for Paul to understand what he needed to do to make sure his career didn’t suffer. Many leaders in the organization were paranoid whenever their direct reports interacted with the CEO. Fortunately, Paul had a very good relationship with his boss, who had recruited him because they’d previously worked together. “As soon as I realized the workplace dynamics, I did whatever I could to make my boss look like a star. I knew that if I could make him look great, he would reward me,” he says. “I hit or exceeded my metrics and deliverables every quarter [because] I knew that my boss was reporting those numbers to his boss.”

Although Paul didn’t necessarily aspire to develop a close relationship with the CEO, he would engage him in small talk. “We bonded in a weird way,” says Paul. “We were usually the first ones to arrive in the morning and the last ones to leave at night. We didn’t have a lot in common besides the fact that we are both workaholics, but we did happen to live in the same neighborhood, so we would often talk about local restaurants.”

Paul’s strategy worked: He received large annual bonuses from his boss, and eventually the CEO took notice of his stellar performance and offered him a promotion. But Paul declined because he wanted to start his own company. He’s now the chief experience officer at Relay Network, a technology group that connects businesses and people through a private messaging application.

Your know about Small Business Taxes

In preparation for the April 15 tax deadline, Business News Daily consulted small business tax experts to find out what things business owners should pay attention to now as the 2016 tax season approaches. Some of these issues involve recent tax changes, while others are issues small businesses should watch for in the future. 

Tax extenders

Two important tax breaks for small business have been extended: Section 179 and bonus depreciation. Section 179 allows businesses to deduct the full price of any qualifying equipment or software purchased or leased during the year. The tax-extension bill makes permanent the $500,000 maximum deduction for new and used equipment that was purchased or leased in 2015. Bonus depreciation, which was extended through 2017, allows business owners to depreciate 50 percent of the cost of new equipment purchased in 2015. The two tax incentives can be used together. 

“Now that small businesses know they can write off … eligible equipment, we may see a lot more spending by small businesses,” Priyanka Prakash, finance specialist at FitBiz Loans, told Business News Daily. “The nice thing is that Section 179 applies to almost any kind of equipment, from office furniture to software to vehicles.”

Other notable tax extenders include the research and development credit, work opportunity tax credit, energy production tax credits, and a deduction for local and state sales tax. Grafton “Cap” Willey, a managing director at CBIZ MHM, said the extensions — even the temporary ones — are an important step in helping small businesses plan ahead.

“[The extensions] will help with some tax planning over the next few years,” Willey said. “Small businesses have been crying out for some consistency in the tax code, so that they know what the rules are when they make their decisions.”

However, he added, the 2016 elections could change the political landscape in such a way that more changes and inconsistencies might be on the horizon.

The Affordable Care Act 

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will affect some small businesses at tax time. The most notable issue for many businesses is that they could face tax penalties for failing to provide health insurance to employees or for failing to report to the Internal Revenue Service what type of coverage they have provided for employees. 

“[The ACA] in 2016 now applies to businesses that have 51 to 99 employees,” Ravi Ramnarain, CEO and founder of Ravi Ramnarain, CPA, LLC, said. “Businesses that are not in compliance with the necessary requirements are subject to heavy fines.”

Janemarie Mulvey, former chief economist for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, said that since the start of 2016, businesses with 51 to 99 employees are required to offer health insurance to at least 70 percent of their full-time–equivalent employees or face a tax penalty of $2,000 per employee. Mulvey has published a reference guide for small businesses called”Health Reform: What Small Businesses Need to Know Now!”

Business owners should understand the reporting requirements that come along with the ACA, in order to avoid tax penalties, she added. The act requires employers to report, on each employee’s W-2 form, the cost of the health coverage the employer provided. A breakdown of what the employer and the employee each paid is required in Box 12 of the form. Failing to report this information could lead to fines of $200 per employee, Mulvey said. The IRS recently extended the reporting deadline to May 31, 2016, for paper filings and June 30, 2016, for electronic filings.

“Because the IRS is now the gatekeeper for insurance coverage, they are going to start collecting info from employers about what kind of insurance they provided,” she said.

Miguel Farra, chairman of the tax and accounting department at public accounting firm Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra LLC, agreed that the ACA insurance and reporting requirements could be burdensome to small businesses. He recommended consulting an accountant or insurance expert to make sure the coverage you provide meets the minimal essential coverage. In many cases, he said, a skilled insurance agent can also help businesses determine whether it is a better financial decision to provide insurance to employees or just pay the tax penalty.

Taxation of online sales 

The Marketplace Fairness Act, which stalled in the 2014 session of Congress, is still churning its way through the legislature. The bill seeks to level the playing field between online merchants and brick-and-mortar stores by allowing states to require online sellers that gross more than $1 million per year to collect and pay the state sales tax. Unsurprisingly, brick-and-mortar stores support the move, but it faces major opposition from online retailers. The last action taken on the bill was on March 10, 2015, when it was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

“By changing definitions of who is a local taxpayer to include even those who do not reside locally, local governments can increase the number of taxpayers, and by that action increase their tax revenue without increasing taxes,” Jonathan Barsade, CEO of Exactor, said.

Tax tips for small businesses

Just because tax law can be complicated doesn’t mean you have to get overwhelmed. Here are some tips on how to manage your taxes year-round.

  • Think about taxes all year long. Small business owners should not treat taxes as a once-a-year event. Rather, tax planning should be a year-round activity. Waiting until the last minute makes tax preparation more complicated, and it limits your money-saving options. 
     
  • Hire a pro. A knowledgeable tax attorney or accountant is well worth the expense, experts say. Tax laws are complex, and they’re difficult for many busy small business owners to weed through. A professional can identify tax breaks and deductions you might otherwise miss. 
     
  • Be aware. Even with the help of a skilled professional, a small business owner must keep up with news related to laws. Read the business papers and keep up with Congress’ work on tax laws.
     
  • Don’t make assumptions. Tax planning, to some extent, is a gamble, Farra said. Although, historically, Congress has always passed the tax-extender bill at the last minute, there are no guarantees. Never make business decisions assuming that tax breaks will pass. 

 

Volkswagen Scandal

Among the many issues at stake for the company was one of public perception. Anecdotal evidence at the time of the incident suggested irreparable harm to the Volkswagen brand. So could Volkswagen recover in the short term in this regard? And, the broader question, how can you measure brand perception in times of scandal, particularly in an era where social media can cause negative news to proliferate and reverberate over time?

In the absence of direct empirical evidence, we wanted to find a way to tackle this important issue. We began our research with some key questions: How does social media sentiment change as a consequence of a public relations crisis? How does the public react to recovery efforts initiated by the company? How do topics of conversation shift as a consequence of a brand scandal and subsequent recovery efforts?

We examined more than 100,000 tweets to analyze how the public sentiment changed over time after the breakout of the scandal. Our approach to capturing themes in the evolving scandal involved sampling a few date windows; therefore, we did not examine data for every single day. The following periods were selected: September 29, 2015–October 7, 2015; October 18, 2015–October 27, 2015; January 1, 2016–January 7, 2016; and January 17, 2016–January 25, 2016. These periods align with some of the events relating to the scandal, and also represent periods during and following the scandal. We explored the daily tweets from these periods by considering all possible events that might have affected the public sentiment over Volkswagen. Entire sets of tweets including the word “Volkswagen” were in our initial data set. We made several observations about how the scandal unfolded in the public conversation, broken out into the following categories.

Frequency. The number of times the scandal was mentioned on Twitter varied dramatically day by day, and the mentions seemed to parallel specific actions taken by Volkswagen to issue apologies or by regulatory agencies to place responsibility or issue punishments.

For example, after an article in The Guardian on September 30 revealed that the scandal has affected 1.2 million Volkswagen diesel vehicles, the number of tweets increased for the next two days. Subsequently, we observed a decrease in the range of number of tweets, from 5,000–7,000 to 1,000–2,000, except around January 6, which coincided with the following headline: “U.S. Sues Volkswagen in Diesel Emissions Scandal.”

Another exceptional surge in the number of tweets was on October 19, which could be explained by articles regarding the governments of France and Spain pushing the scandal investigations. We conjecture that the amount of tweets reflect the level of public interest in the scandal.

Vocabulary. We also identified the most-frequent words in tweets for each day by mining Twitter for all mentions of the brand name “Volkswagen” during the aforementioned time periods, including retweets. We then conducted topic modeling on the tweets using the text-mining library within the statistical program, excluding words that were obvious, and thus less meaningful in our analysis (“vehicle,” “Volkswagen,” and “car,” among others). We narrowed the number of words down to the five most frequently mentioned on each day. In some cases, when there were multiple words with similar frequencies, we had more than five words per day.

The Way to Deliver Bad News Tips

images-14ving feedback to your employees, particularly when their performances fall short of expectations, is one of the most critical roles you play as a manager. For most people, it’s also one of the most dreaded. Such conversations can be very unpleasant—emotions can run high, tempers can flare. And so, fearing that an employee will become defensive and that the conversation will only strain the relationship, the boss all too often inadvertently sabotages the meeting by preparing for it in a way that stifles honest discussion. This is an unintentional—indeed, unconscious—habit that’s a byproduct of stress and that makes it difficult to deliver corrective feedback effectively.

The good news is that these conversations don’t have to be so hard. By changing the mind-set with which you develop and deliver negative feedback, you can greatly increase the odds that the process will be a success—that you will have productive conversations, that you won’t damage relationships, and that your employees will make real improvements in performance. In the pages that follow, I’ll describe what goes wrong during these meetings and why. I’ll look in detail at how real-life conversations have unfolded and what the managers could have done differently to reach more satisfying outcomes. As a first step, let’s look at the way bosses prepare feedback—that is, the way they frame issues in their own minds in advance of a discussion.

Framing Feedback
In an ideal world, a subordinate would accept corrective feedback with an open mind. He or she would ask a few clarifying questions, promise to work on the issues discussed, and show signs of improvement over time. But things don’t always turn out this way.

Let’s consider the following example. Liam, a vice president at a consumer products company, had heard some complaints about a product manager, Jeremy. (Names and other identifying information for the subjects mentioned in this article have been altered.) Jeremy consistently delivered high-quality work on time, but several of his subordinates had grumbled about his apparent unwillingness to delegate. They felt their contributions weren’t valued and that they didn’t have an opportunity to learn and grow. What’s more, Liam worried that Jeremy’s own career prospects would be limited if his focus on the day-to-day details of his subordinates’ work kept him from taking on more strategic projects. As his boss, Liam felt a responsibility to let Jeremy know about his concerns. Here’s how the conversation unfolded:

Liam: “I’d like to discuss your work with you. You’re doing a great job, and we really value your contributions. But I think you do too much. You have some great people working for you; why not delegate a little more?”

Jeremy: “I don’t understand. I delegate when I think it’s appropriate. But a lot of people in this company rely on quality work coming out of my department, so I need to stay involved.”

Liam: “Yes, and we all appreciate your attention to detail. But your job as a manager is to help your employees grow into new roles and take on more responsibility. Meanwhile, you’re so focused on the details that you don’t have time to think about the bigger picture, about the direction you’re taking this product.”

Jeremy: “That’s not true. I’m always thinking about the future.”
Liam: “I’m just saying, you’d have more time for strategic thinking if you weren’t so mired in the day-to-day stuff.”

Jeremy: “Are you saying I’m not a strategic thinker?”

Liam: “You’re so busy dotting every i and crossing every t that I just don’t know what kind of thinking you’re capable of!”

This type of exchange is surprisingly common. Each side pushes his point of view more and more aggressively, and the conversation escalates until a relatively minor difference becomes much more dramatic. (For a visual representation of a deteriorating discussion, see the exhibit “Scripted Escalation.”) Often, as Liam did in the preceding conversation, one person or the other unintentionally says something overly critical. Of course, it may not get to that point—one or both parties may choose to give in rather than fight. But either way, escalate or fold, the subordinate probably hasn’t accepted the news the boss set out to deliver. Managers tend to attribute such nonacceptance to employees’ pride or defensiveness. Indeed, it’s not unusual for people to feel defensive about their work or, for that matter, to hold inflated views of their performance and capabilities. But more often than not, the boss is also to blame. Let’s examine why.

Whenever we face a decision or situation, we frame it, consciously or not. At its simplest, a frame is the decision maker’s image of a situation—that is, the way he or she pictures the circumstances and elements surrounding the decision. The frame defines the boundaries and dimensions of the decision or situation—for instance, which issues will be looked at, which components are in and which are out, how various bits of information will be weighed, how the problem might be solved or a successful outcome determined, and so on. Managers tend to frame difficult situations and decisions in a way that is narrow(alternatives aren’t included or even considered) and binary (there are only two possible outcomes—win or lose). Then, during the feedback discussion, their framing remains frozen—unchanged, regardless of the direction the conversation takes.

In anticipation of the conversation with Jeremy, for example, Liam framed the problem in his mind as “Jeremy’s too controlling.” This is a narrow framing because it excludes many alternative explanations—for instance, “Jeremy would really like to hand off some responsibility but doesn’t know how and is embarrassed to acknowledge that.” Or “Jeremy is actually delegating as much as he can given his subordinates’ current skill levels; they are frustrated but really cannot handle more than they do.” Or maybe “Jeremy is delegating quite a lot, but Frank and Joan have some other ax to grind.” Liam may be making matters worse without realizing it by sending Jeremy mixed signals: “Empower your subordinates, but make no mistakes.” We don’t know for sure; nor does Liam.

Operating from this narrow view, Liam also approached the discussion with a binary framing that leaves both parties with very little room to maneuver: “Jeremy must learn to delegate or we’ll lose Frank and Joan—and meanwhile, he’ll burn himself out.” Last but not least, Liam’s framing remained frozen throughout the exchange despite clear signals that Jeremy was not buying the feedback. At no point was Liam processing, let alone addressing, Jeremy’s objections. It’s no surprise that the meeting ended badly.

Dangers of Easing in

After they’ve had a few bad experiences delivering narrowly framed feedback, managers tend to fall back on the conventional wisdom that it’s better to soften bad news with some good.

They try to avoid uncomfortable confrontations by using an indirect approach: They make up their minds about an issue and then try to help their employees reach the same conclusions by asking a carefully designed set of questions.

At first glance, this type of “easing in” seems more open and fair than the forthright approach that Liam took, since the manager is involving the subordinate in a conversation, however scripted. But like the forthright approach, easing in reflects a narrow and binary framing that typically remains frozen throughout the process. Indeed, there would be no need to ease in if the manager were approaching the conversation with a truly open mind. And easing in carries an additional risk: The employee may not give you the answers you’re looking for.

For example, Alex, an executive at a pharmaceuticals company, had some difficult news to communicate to one of his subordinates, Erin. She was a middle manager at the company and did an excellent job handling her department but was not contributing satisfactorily to a companywide task force chaired by Alex. Erin was remarkably silent during the meetings, which led Alex to conclude that she was too busy to participate fully and had little to offer the group. Alex’s solution? Take her off the task force so she could focus on her primary responsibilities. But because he suspected Erin would be hurt or insulted if he suggested she step down, Alex hoped to prompt her to resign from the committee by asking her a series of questions that would make her see she was too busy to continue. Let’s look at what happened.

Be Smart On Your Business

Looking for a new challenge now that you’ve retired from the corporate world? Why not start your own business?

Many retirees who’ve been employees all of their lives get excited at the thought of running the show, and building a business that reflects their interests and values. If you’re thinking of launching a business during your retirement, here are six ideas to get you started.

Online businesses

Many new business ideas well-suited for retirees harness the power of the internet, as long as you don’t let technology intimidate you.

“Online businesses are truly some of the best types of businesses for people over 50, but they need to get over their fears,” said Diane Eschenbach, owner of startup consultancy firm DE Consultants and author of “How to Quickly Start a Business Online.”

One simple new business option involves researching and compiling information on websites.

“One of my favorite types of online businesses for the ‘post-50 group’ is curation sites,” said Eschenbach.

As people get older, the time invested in activities (such as a new business venture) becomes very important, said Eschenbach. She is a big fan of the idea of retirees learning to use technology because of the time saved by automated programs, but she stresses the importance of choosing a business you enjoy.

“The key to a great retirement is doing what you love and finding a way to monetize it quickly,” said Eschenbach. [See Related Story: New Business Idea? How to Test Before Launching ]

Consulting and coaching

Retirees considering starting businesses should start by thinking about two areas: skills from their previous jobs and life lessons. These experiences make retirees well-positioned to share their knowledge.

“Since they have a lot of life and career experience, a consulting and coaching business suits them well as a new endeavor,” said Dolly Garlo, business coach and president of Thrive!! Inc. By capitalizing on existing knowledge, retirees can spend their time learning the ropes of running a new business.

“Retirees should focus on jobs and business opportunities that leverage the individual’s years of work and life experience, such as consulting, teaching or tutoring,” said Jamie Hopkins, Esq., assistant professor of taxation in the Retirement Income Program at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and associate director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income.

Instead of sharing knowledge through a face-to-face business, retirees may prefer to teach or coach through a freelance writing business. “Writing and blogging can be a way for the retiree to stay engaged in an online or other community, generate some income and leverage their knowledge,” said Hopkins.

As you brainstorm new business ideas, Garlo suggests asking a few key questions. “How much time do you want to spend working? What kind of flexibility do you require? Do you want to work from a fixed location or be able to work virtually? What subject matter in particular excites you?”

Garlo says it’s also important to consider your potential business customers, and if they can afford to pay you. “This will determine whether what you provide becomes a hobby or charitable endeavor, or is an actual business,” she said.

Start a “mastermind group”

Have you left a successful career after establishing a large network of valuable and experienced business contacts? If so, the main ingredients of your new business idea may be as close as your address book.

“[Retirees] have learned lessons that many business owners won’t learn for another 10 to 20 years,” said Tobe Brockner, author of “Mastermind Group Blueprint: How to Start, Run and Profit from Mastermind Groups” (Aloha Group Publishing, 2013). “This is why starting a mastermind group is a natural fit for retirees.”

Members of mastermind groups meet regularly to collaborate and solve the problems or issues of their members, tapping into the collected experience, skills and knowledge of the group.

“Many [retirees] already have a network that they can tap into to find excellent mastermind group members, and by being the group organizer and facilitator, they can make a nice supplemental income,” said Brockner.

Depending on the size of the area in which they live, Brockner said enterprising retirees can start and facilitate multiple mastermind groups, and charge a premium for the value of being a member.

“Mastermind group facilitators can generate between $1,500 to $3,000 per month per group for just a few hours [of] work,” he said.

Service-based businesses

Providing services has long been a popular idea for younger, active retirees who want to start their own businesses; however, familiar choices like handyman services, tutoring or pet sitting aren’t the only games in town.

“There are many options for service-based businesses, but one area particularly well-suited for retirees is to provide eldercare services,” said Nancy Collamer, career coach and author of “Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement” (Ten Speed Press, 2013).

“Many elderly living on their own need someone to help out with the tasks of daily living: housekeeping, shopping, errands and cooking,” said Collamer. “They also hire people to help out with special projects such as relocating, medical claims assistance and bill paying.”