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The silver age of start-ups


Entrepreneurship is usually perceived as a young person’s game, but that’s changing. This is why older generations are avoiding retirement for entrepreneurship.

Education. Employment. Retirement. This is an average sequence in most people’s lives. But times are changing. People are living longer, technology is breaking down barriers and the old ways of doing things are fading away. The knock-on effect of this has led to changes in pension policy, longer working hours and the demographics of who’s starting a business and why is changing. The social norms that were accepted as the status quo have been flipped.

Serial entrepreneur Ben Towers, began his business journey before he’d even taken his first GCSE exam, at the age of eleven. Conversely, Charles Flint started computer manufacturing company, IBM at the ripe age of sixty-one.

These two business moguls not only prove that the lines between education, employment and retirement can be blurred, and prove that whether you’re an early achiever or a late bloomer, there is no ‘right’ age to become an entrepreneur.

According to Old Mutual Wealth and the Pensions Policy Institute, one in ten of the UK’s five million entrepreneurs now employ themselves beyond the state pension age, with baby boomers accounting for nearly two million. The research suggests that these figures are only likely to grow so, it seems that when it comes to age, success has no deadline.

Why ‘silvers’ consider self-employment

Customers value and pay for experience and expertise, and after a lifetime of working, it makes sense that certain members of older generations could be in a great position to offer this.

What’s more, having spent the majority of their lives in employment and potentially benefitting from astronomical rises in property over the years, they likely have the financial stability and strong network of contacts behind them to create a successful business. And due to the forecasted changes to the national pension policy, many potential retirees are having to think twice about their original plans for retirement.
Many would be sceptical about starting a business in later life, considering the financial risk involved, but compared to other generations, baby boomers are more likely to take this leap of faith, with forty-three percent identifying themselves as high-risk takers.
So, with a higher quality of life for longer and access to the experience, finances and attitude that many younger entrepreneurs strive for, it makes sense for older people to open businesses.

Older business owners are boosting the UK’s economy

With the ingredients for a successful business, its’ no surprise that over-50’s are setting up and running their own businesses at a faster rate than any other age group. By 2024, they’re expected to dominate the self-employed workforce, says The Centre for Economics and Business Research.

In 2016, business owners aged over fifty employed nearly ten million people, two million more than their younger competitors. Not only has this helped to improve the UK’s employment rating but, it’s caused a huge surge in productivity. With the number of ‘silver entrepreneurs’ rapidly increasing, this trend looks set to continue.

Case study: Louise Chunn

After her thirty-year career as a magazine editor ground to a halt, Louise Chunn believed she’d never find a job that she engaged with again. That’s when she decided to start her own business. Hence, Welldoing was born. The online directory of therapists and counsellors is dedicated to helping the minds and bodies of others and was a way for Louise to plug an obvious hole in the market.

Now, five years on, Welldoing has more than 1000 therapists enrolled and has supported many more  in their emotional journeys. As the digital mastermind behind the business, Louise is living proof that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself or your career.

Whether you’ve just graduated or just reached retirement, entrepreneurship has no boundaries when it comes to age. After all, age is not a label, it’s just a number. So, if you tick the latter box and have an ambition of starting your own business, don’t think that you’ve hit your sell-by-date. Believe in yourself, believe in your ability to make a difference to the business world and you’ll not only achieve your entrepreneurial dream but success too.

Want more inspiration? Read Cindy Lessing’s story: how she gave up her 30-year career as an insurance broker to follow her passion, how she gained the digital skills to found SoSensational, the online fashion retailer and how she did this all in her early sixties.

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