Over the years, I have observed a lot of people struggle with their newfound freedom as empty nesters. With children off in college after 18 years of dedicated nurturing, many parents find themselves lost. Especially for those parents with no professional identity, this phase of life becomes particularly challenging.
Demographic trends suggest that this problem is acute in stay-at-home moms who have spent a couple of decades chauffeuring kids around, attending school events, perhaps even volunteering at the kids' schools.
I'd like to see some entrepreneurs take this problem on, and create meaningful platforms for engagement for these women who have a lot to offer to society.
My observation is that any solution will need to address certain key needs in these women. Paramount among those is the need for an identity of their own.
Secondly, they need a social context in which they can interact with other people. There is a lot of loneliness that surface when people have to fill extended amounts of time on their own.
Thirdly, the need for a sense of purpose - meaning - that was occupied by their children for so many years is critical. Suddenly, there is no day-to-day purpose that urges them to get out of bed.
Thankfully, there is a tremendous amount of need in society, especially in helping the under-privileged. Great causes abound. Whether it is tutoring children in the local community, or building houses in Africa, there is a whole range of worthwhile causes around which one can build an identity, a purpose, and a social engagement model.
So what would an entrepreneurial venture catering to this segment look like?
You can design it in a variety of ways, one of which could be a membership network - a club. Joining the club would put a portfolio of causes and projects in front of you. You choose which one you want to work on. Accordingly, you are introduced to other members who have also chosen to work on that project.
The club also orchestrates events around those projects and people - could be small events at the members' homes, could be larger events at public venues.
There are regular meetings for the members to get together and collaborate, also facilitated by the platform.
The emphasis is on community and achieving specific results based on specific project goals.
There is something marvelous about working with a group of people and doing meaningful, constructive work together.
It's not that complicated.
Through this process, new friendships will develop. A new world will piece together. The emptiness will gradually fill up with human warmth, spiritual contentment, and a overall sense of well-being will return.
On the business side, what would the numbers look like?
Well, as a membership-based club model, we're looking at a monthly or annual subscription. You need to validate, but probably $50/month looks reasonable. That is $600/year. With 1000 members, you would be doing $600k in revenue. Not bad, right?
You need to establish relationships with a set of non-profits and identify the projects that you want to develop community engagement around. And you need to put together a software platform that can facilitate the types of social interactions that you want to encourage.
I'd like to see 50-100 entrepreneurs who build this business in their respective communities, harnessing 50k to 100k women whose energy and talents can be much better deployed.
If you want to venture down this path, I will be happy to shepherd you along. Please start here.
Photo credit: liz west/Flickr.com.