It’s a striking statistical trend. The number of businesses un by the over-55s has jumped by 63% in the past 10 years.
There has also been a 140% rise in the number of business owners aged 65 and older, making it the fastest-growing age group for business owners.
Over the same period, businesses run by those aged 25-34 grew by a much more modest 23 per cent – challenging the presumption that the world of start-ups is dominated by those in their twenties and thirties.
The research, conducted for Barclays Business Banking, also highlights the contribution of older entrepreneurs to the UK economy.
Overall, new firms set up by the over-55s in 2015 added more than £7bn to the UK economy in the following year.
Lesley Robinson the Start-Up & Enterprise Manager at Chamber of Commerce, isn’t surprised by the findings.
She said: “Our Cumbria Business Growth Hub has worked with more than 9000 people on business start-up over the past 5 years so we’ve seen this trend at first hand. There’s strong evidence that people become more entrepreneurial as they get older.
“They’ve spent years working for someone else, accumulating knowledge and experience, and then one day they realise, ‘I can do this for myself’.
“It’s also about circumstances and opportunity. Sometimes redundancy is the spur to go it alone, or perhaps an inheritance provides the necessary capital. And older people often have assets they can use as security to raise capital.
“Whatever the reasons, older entrepreneurs have a lot to offer and, with people living and working longer, we expect this trend to continue.”
Barclays has identified an opportunity to better cater for the needs of what it has dubbed the ‘olderpreneurs’.
It has appointed the beauty entrepreneur Liz Earle, 54, as an Entrepreneurial Business Adviser to focus on the opportunities and challenges faced by business owners in the 50-plus age bracket.
She said: “The older generation adds so much value to the workplace in any context – bringing a wealth of experience and industry contacts to the table.
“I’m not surprised to see so many budding entrepreneurs of my generation. It’s great to see them taking the plunge, rather than feeling it’s too late.”
Liz Earle’s top 10 tips for mature entrepreneurs
- Have confidence in your abilities. Your wisdom, experience and ability to see the bigger picture will be great assets to any business, and will complement the skills offered by the younger generation
- Knowing your subject is key. Never stop reading and researching your business’ subject to ensure an in-depth, wise and considered knowledge on it.
- Know your business strategy inside out. Once you have the concept thought out, you need to know, and be able to explain to others, how it translates into a business. This is fundamental to securing support and financing. Practice your pitch to friends and family.
- Get tech savvy. Technology and social media are crucial to a modern business, and they don’t have to be intimidating.
- Always take your time, even if you feel like it is limited – I have always said, “If it has to be now, it has to be no”. Never let anyone rush your decisions, each one you make could have a long-term impact on you and your business.
- Look after your wellbeing. Prioritise your own health and wellbeing so you can build a healthy, robust business. Eat well, get moving and safeguard your sleep (especially important as you get older).
- Trust your gut instinct. There is research that shows that your gut and brain are connected so follow any strong instincts, they will most likely be right.
- Find your passion. Establishing a business will take time, energy and commitment. To make it a real success, you have to truly love what you do.
- Prioritise what is important to you. Never compromise your family for your business. Put family events into your year’s diary and fit work around that. You can also use technology, from Skype for conference calls to mobile banking apps to manage your finances, to save time for what matters most.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s contacting Cumbria Business Growth Hub, your bank, asking contacts who are in business for advice, or even asking family members to help with tasks around the house to give you some extra time, there are plenty of people able to support you in your journey.
CASE STUDY: John Nelson, Eden Gallery Tea Rooms
John Nelson, 56, is the proud owner of Eden Gallery Tea Rooms in St Andrew’s Churchyard, Penrith.
He took on the business last November, fulfilling a long-standing ambition.
He said: “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the last 30 years.
“When I was in my twenties I had an aunt who had a tea room at Lochranza on the Isle of Arran. I worked there for a couple of years, and worked in hotels on the island, and thought then it was something I would really like to do.
“My wife and I talked about running our own business but for one reason or another it never happened. When we split up, the opportunity arose.”
John is nothing if not adaptable.
In the past he has been a civil servant, a bus driver, and for the last 12 years he taught the trombone, piano, saxophone and other instruments in schools and to private pupils in Yorkshire, where he lived.
Do research and take advice before you jump in, but if you have ambition, at any age, if you really want to do something, then go for it.
He said: “My original plan was to buy a tea room on the Yorkshire coast, perhaps in Whitby, to be near my family. But I needed a place with accommodation and there wasn’t anything suitable there. My next choice was somewhere near the Lake District, which is how I came to Penrith.”
Eden Gallery Tea Rooms was already well established. John bought the business outright and leases the building.
He works full-time and employs part-time staff.
He said: “It’s going really well. I’m enjoying it and the customers seem happy. I expected it to be a little busier over the summer but the business is pretty much where I expected it to be in the first year.”
Before he took the plunge, he signed up for the Business Start-Up Support (BSUS) programme, delivered by the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub. This offers free assistance to people going into business.
He said: “I’d done some training on food hygiene, but through BSUS I did a three-day course for start-ups, and training on marketing and social media.
“My Growth Hub adviser, Colin Cheyne, booked me onto the right courses. He helped to draw up the business plan and explained the responsibilities around employing people, which was new to me. He was very helpful.”
John has no regrets about his decision to go into business, and has no hesitation in urging other fifty-somethings to do the same.
He added: “Do research and take advice before you jump in, but if you have ambition, at any age, if you really want to do something, then go for it.
“You’re never too old. People are living and working longer. I still feel fit and healthy, and I can’t see any reason why I won’t be still here in 20 years.”
If you are thinking of starting your own business or social enterprise, then Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and our partners are here to help with a free business start-up programme to point you in the right direction.
Our comprehensive package of support includes:
- Free meetings with a business adviser to review and develop your business idea;
- Free training covering business planning and self-employment, an introduction to marketing/market research and sales forecasts, promotion and sales, an introduction to planning and managing finance, taxation and bookkeeping, using the internet and social media;
- Free help to develop your business plan and get your business up and running;
- £1000 subsidy for consultancy support;
- Free membership of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce.
For more information, call us today on 0845 226 0040 or click here to visit the Cumbria Business Growth Hub web site.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP.
The BSUS project is receiving up to £1,112,686 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information, click here.© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce