Social Security: Panic or Progress? The Digital Grandparent Solution

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President George Bush certainly spooked the nation's elderly in his recent State of the Union address when he stated that he has a plan concerning Social Security. The very fact that President Bush admits a need for a plan has many people concerned, but others see it as a motivating factor. "Digital Grandparents", the newest breed of online entrepreneurs, think they've got it the situation beat.

President George Bush certainly spooked the nation's elderly in his recent State of the Union address when he stated that he has a plan concerning Social Security. The very fact that President Bush admits a need for a plan has many people concerned, but others see it as a motivating factor. "Digital Grandparents", the newest breed of online entrepreneurs, think they've got it the situation beat.

As the baby-boomers reach retirement age and watch the social security problem balloon, older Americans are making tough financial choices. A simple search on Google reveals over 198,000 results for the search term, “lobbies for retired people” -- a bellwether that indicates the level of concern this age-group has over their future. A leading few, however, have the answer to this difficult financial riddle: online entrepreneurship for the digital grandparent set.

Joann Marshall, 65, is a good example of a new breed of participant in ecommerce: digital grandparents. After a successful career managing a real estate office and cognizant of the varied problems with the Social Security program , Marshall elected almost a year ago to start an ecommerce venture with her site, http://www.lynnsuniquegifts.com .

“Richard [Marshall’s husband] and I talked about it and we figured that we’d much rather be the captains of our own ship. Relying on Social Security to supplement our income just didn’t seem like a good idea.” said Marshall. “We’ve seen people our age struggling and we made the decision to do something about it. I’ve got three children and ten grandchildren- I wanted to spend my time working on something for them and I want to be able to do it from home so I can be with them, too. We decided that [starting an ecommerce business] would solve all our problems, so we dove right into it.

“We found the right product- we started with Irish-themed gifts in crystal. Then we set up the site with a website expert we knew named William Rock, and it’s been steady work since then.

Marshall’s pluck and a solid connection paid off; she saw $25,000 in sales in the first six weeks and the holiday season was a total success as well.

Marshall offered up several tips for those retirees who are considering using ecommerce as a source of income in their later years:

1.    Be fearless. People in this generation have overcome much harder trials than this. 90% of the difficulty involved in an older person starting an online business is simply deciding not to be afraid of the computer, and to charge into the learning process once again.

2.    Find a niche and a supplier. Marshall chose crystal gifts with Irish and angel themes, but says that any product that people want and isn’t offered in a mall will do.

3.    Use your age as a selling point. Buyers know that older people are generally more reliable, more trustworthy, and are better at making business decisions. Sell these strengths in your web presence and over the phone when customers call to place orders. People value the specialty service that members of Marshall’s generation provide so be sure to emphasize this. Stress the benefit of ‘grandma’s special touch’ personal service.

“The physical limitations of age just aren’t a factor in an online business. You need to go for it!” exhorts Marshall, “We’re making money. We don’t have to rely on the President or Social Security. We even get Christmas cards from our customers... we’re a total success.”

Marshall and her husband have found that they have the liberty of traveling with their business in tow, using trips to see family as opportunities to give a physical face to their online store. For seniors who’d like to meet Joann Marshall in person, feel free to visit her booth at the Irish Fair and Music Festival, March 11th and 12th, at the Los Angeles Fairgrounds in Pomona, CA or simply reach her via her website, http://www.lynnsuniquegifts.com , where she has expanded her market to include crystal gifts, key finders, and ribbon car magnets.

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Joann Marshall
Lynns Unique Gifts
909-307-3919
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