Over 50? Consider Starting your Own Business
A recent study from Castle Cover has shown that an increasing number of people in the UK are working beyond the state pension age. Such cases are likely to become even more prevalent with a recent change to legislation that removes an employer’s right to enforce retirement upon an employee. However, as the data below will show, many people over the age of 50 have to keep working, but do not find the idea of working for someone else appealing. If you are in such a position, putting your years of experience into your own business may be the best way forward.
Older workers in employment: the facts
In 1993, there were 753,000 people still in employment beyond the state pension age. By 2011, this had almost doubled to 1.4 million. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) state that this equates to around nine per cent of all the people over the state pension age in the UK, and that this group is growing at a faster rate than the UK population.
The dire economic climate means that in many cases, individuals do not have a choice whether to work or not, they simply have to continue otherwise they will not be able to afford to live. On the whole, the older generation have a greater chance of finding work than the young, though regional variations do exist. London and the South East have the highest percentage of older people in employment, while the North East is at the other end of the scale. This could be down to many factors, ranging from the cost of living to job opportunities.
It is therefore clear that more people than ever before are working later in their lives, but what kind of work are they doing? The Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey found that 67 per cent of older working men held highly skilled positions, compared to just 36 per cent of women.
Research has also shown that those working over the age of 55, 32 per cent are self-employed as opposed to just 13 per cent of the 25 to 34 demographic. This shows the older generation has a higher propensity to become an entrepreneur, but why?
Why older people start their own businesses
A 2007 study by Kingston University’s Small Business Research Centre highlighted that the majority (39 per cent) of older entrepreneurs were motivated purely by the desire to do something pleasurable. A further 29 per cent felt it would give them a greater work-life balance, while 24 per cent felt they couldn’t work for someone else any longer. Interestingly, although 79 per cent work alone, almost half of all the 50-plus entrepreneurs canvassed felt happier than at any other point in their working lives.
In his blog The Pluses of Being 50 Plus, Barrie Hopson argues that the older generation are perfectly placed to start their own business. In his eyes this is because of the personality traits traditionally associated with age. Maturity, good interpersonal skills, reliability and general experience were the main qualities highlighted in the over-50s, along with a determination to experiment with new ventures and projects. Additionally, Mr Hopson noted that they
“…are also fit and healthy. Twenty-five-year-olds 50 years ago were not as fit as 50-year-olds today”.
The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise (Prime) is in agreement with this, as they see the skills and life experiences older entrepreneurs have built up over their lifetime to be the best preparation possible for self-employment. The level of social, financial and personal fulfilment felt by mature entrepreneurs is another reason why more people should consider it as a viable option.
Prime aims to aid those in this demographic who would like to start their own business by offering information, workshops and networking possibilities as well as free business advice and mentoring to get great ideas off the ground.
As you can see, all the evidence suggests that over-50s are the perfect candidates for self-employment. So, if you are in this age group, fed up of working for someone else and have an idea you are sure will work, give it a try – the odds of success are stacked in your favour. There are many inspiring success stories of entrepreneurs who’ve started businesses later in life – Joseph Sopher of Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn for one.