Updated: Jul 13
Solve basic problems!
Quick story: My wife and I are in the process of hiring contractors for various home renovation projects.
To give you an idea of the scope of work, we're looking to replace several light fixtures, update our fireplace, our shower and install new kitchen and bathroom countertops.
So, not rocket science here but simple tasks that require more time than my wife and I have to offer, and a skillset we'd feel more comfortable outsourcing than acquiring.
They're also tasks that come with a hefty price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars and in my mind, well worthy of someone's time and effort.
So, we began the process where most people start: Get referrals from friends and family.
After several phone calls to prospective contractors, most of which were never returned, we decided to hit the web.
The first few hits on Google either didn't call us back, had a website with broken contact links or greeted us with a piercing fax-machine beep when we called the number listed on their Facebook page that hasn't been updated since 03'.
Next, we tried sites like Angi and Home Advisor.
Here's a quick summary of Angi reviews from Sitejabber, a website that connects consumers with small businesses using reviews:
I can personally attest to the critical highlights!
My only conclusion here is that contractors must be swimming in an endless sea of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck because they're all booked until 2050!
Granted, there are murmurs of a looming recession and supply chains aren't anywhere near where they used to be.
Further, Walmart is paying $13-17/hr for people to watch customers pass through the self-checkout line, further exacerbating wage pressures.
I get it.
But honestly, is it that hard to take 1 minute out of your day to call people back?
Or even add a polite message to the main page of your site that says something like:
"Thank you for visiting Contracting Services LLC and considering us for your home renovation project. We are unfortunately booked until next year/can't find people who want to work/whatever the reason is. If your project isn't time sensitive, please provide your name, email address, phone number and a brief description of the work needed and we'll get back to you as soon as we're able."
Why don't I get no respect?!?
While this process has been mind-numbingly painful, I understand it's not entirely the contractor's fault. At the moment, demand for contracting services (and a lot of other things) vastly exceeds supply of time and resources.
First world problems aside, this dilemma of mine perfectly illustrates the opportunities that exist in one of many different marketplaces for investors interested in adding new income streams in retirement: Start a business that solves people's problems.
Let's use my experience searching for contractors as an example:
Presogna Family Objective: Home Renovation Project in the Range of $15,000 - $25,000
Problem #1 Supply chain issues causing significant delays.
Problem #2 Poor (or no) customer service.
Problem #3 The process to find reputable contractors is frustrating and takes too much time.
Problem #4 Popular sites designed to solve these problems end up creating more headaches than solutions.
Problem #5 Contractor websites are poorly designed, if they exist at all making it difficult to find and hire contractors.
With the exception of #1 (the Fed can't even fix the economy), I spot multiple opportunities to make money in retirement which solve these problems:
Opportunity #1 Start a client service consulting company helping local contractors manage their client load and sales pipeline. If you know how to use a phone, have empathy, can use, or learn how to use CRM software and speak English, you're well on your way.
Opportunity #2 Create a next-door-like site specifically for contractors that doesn't bombard you with calls and emails from prospects that aren't a good fit. Requires knowledge and experience in site building/SEO but can be done.
Opportunity #3 Build websites for contracting businesses. Sites like Wix and Squarespace make it easy to create amazing websites with very little technical knowledge.
Opportunity #4 Serve as a social media manager for contractors. This can be in place of, or in addition to building and maintaining their website. If you have some time and $100 or so to invest in a few Udemy courses, you'll be a social media expert in no time.
Opportunity #5 Establish a subcontractor/project manager business. I'd gladly pay someone to handle the hiring and scheduling of contractors. I know they exist/make sense for larger jobs, but there's definitely a market for mid-range home renovation projects, especially now.
Opportunity #6 How about just starting a contracting business that 1) calls people back the same day, 2) has a website that's easy to navigate, and 3) makes it super simple for people to do business with them? Being a handyman or woman is a plus, obviously.
I'm sure there are more opportunities I'm missing, but you get the point.
You might be thinking, "Ok, but what if I don't know how social media works or how to fix a leaky faucet or build a website?"
Fair, but I'm certain you do SOMETHING really well that someone else could benefit from and that could create income for you.
Use Intangible Assets to Fund Retirement
One way to increase your income in retirement is by using your intangible assets to generate additional revenue streams.
An asset is a term used in finance to define something that's useful and/or valuable.
In retirement, we most commonly think of assets like stocks, bonds or commodities given their usefulness and value is tangible, coming in the form of future monetary growth or dividend income.
But there's another intangible asset (something you can't see or touch) that garners very little attention yet has the potential to generate far greater returns than any stock or bond: your own skillset.
The world is chock full of problems like the ones identified with my contractor debacle. Problems that people will happily fork over good money to help them solve. And the solutions generally require some kind of specialized knowledge, experience or unique skill. In other words, they require intangible assets.
If you're looking for ways to make more money in retirement, or simply want to add another income stream to supplement travel costs, keep your eyes and ears open for pain points and don't be afraid to tap into your intangible assets.
Starting a business may seem like a stressful, risky, and time-consuming endeavor but trust me, it doesn't need to be.
You don't have to build the next Tesla or Uber. Marketing and selling intangible assets such as 34 years as an HR manager or experience in advertising at a Fortune 500 company requires very little up-front capital.
All you really need is time and a willingness to look for problems you're uniquely fit to solve.
The last time I checked, there's no rule that states 401(k)s and IRAs are the only sources for funding your retirement.