Retirement, part II: Just getting started

Bryan Rempel - Andrew Leong
Bryan Rempel
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Retirement isn’t in 60-year-old Bryan Rempel’s vocabulary.

“I feel more energized and creative now than I did in my 40s. It has little to do with money.”

Rempel has been a business owner for 15 years, and in June he started a new business called Inter-Actions, a video-marketing service. Rempel believes it’s a waste of human capital if boomers retire at 65.

“Retirement is an artificial construct by government from a time when most people died at 65. People are living much longer than they did. My dad still has a business and he’s in his mid-80s. The brain is like a muscle; when you don’t use it, it’ll go away.”

Nor is it possible for many people to retire at 65. Rempel said interest rates and life circumstances contribute to more boomers continuing to work later in life.

“Not everyone has a smooth chart to the finish line. Things like divorce, bankruptcy mean you don’t end up at 65 with a wad of cash. Especially in a 1% interest environment.”

Cathy Robertson, manager at Community Futures Cowichan, said people older than 50 can be successful entrepreneurs. She thinks the Cowichan Valley could begin to see more businesses owned by boomers like Rempel.

“They have the capital, the time, and the savvy. The Cowichan Valley is ripe for it. Lifestyle is the biggest motivating factor and we have a lot to offer for lifestyle here. Location, weather, amenities and the great outdoors.”

Robertson believes debt, good health, and staying connected are other motivating factors for entrepreneurial boomers.

“Some people can’t afford to retire. Maybe they still have a mortgage. Also, people are healthier and still need a lot of stimulation in their day. And having a job keeps them connected in the young world. They have a lot to contribute.”

Rempel agrees  Cowichan is a great place for a business owner. Rempel and his wife moved to the Cowichan Valley from Calgary three years ago.

“We were sick and tired of winter and we thought Mill Bay was the most beautiful place in the world. There are a lot of people coming from Alberta looking for other opportunities. They aren’t coming to vegetate. It’s easy to excel on the island, especially with technology as it is today.”

Rempel said older business owners benefit the community because they hire young people.

“One of my clients hired a 35-year-old young guy to run his company. The old guy has a dream and needs a young guy to execute it. I’m hiring people 30 years younger than me to do design and communications.”

Rempel has advice for anyone starting a business, no matter what their age.

“Get a mentor. A mentor is someone who is in life where you want to be, doing what you want to do, doing it successfully, and is willing to give you the time to help you do the same thing.”

Rempel said mentors minimize risk and give a person tremendous stability. He said you may have to pay for knowledge, but it’s worth it.

“If you don’t pay, you don’t pay attention. People say experience is the best teacher. The best is actually someone else’s experience. That’s better than you spending 20 years getting it. That’s why you pay for it and it’s so worth it.”


Survey says:

Cathy Robertson at Community Futures shared a survey conducted by Environics Research Group that revealed Canadians closing in on their retirement years are increasingly looking to create their own businesses. According to the results of their online survey of 1,000 Canadians:

15% of boomers have started a business.

39% of boomers have considered launching a small business prior to retirement.

Being your own boss, the opportunity to make more money and a sense of personal achievement or pride are the top reasons for starting a business.

Challenges for boomers launching a small business are:

42% say getting financing.

38% say taking on added debt.

36% say balancing business and personal finances.

There are 26,860 people in the Cowichan Valley between age 45 and 64.

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