The Best is Yet to Come

Achieving the age of retirement is a celebration for many, an opportunity to kick back and relax, travel the world or even a time to dig in and achieve all the goals we have set ourself!  Whether you unleash your inner party animal or nurse past injuries and creaking joints the opportunities to enjoy the 2nd half of your life have never been so great.

An increasing number of the over 50 set are not satisfied regarding this period, the “Autumn years” of their lives, simply as the doorway opening to the decline into old age. They want to remain productive and fulfilled and many are guided by the desire to give something back to the community. That can mean making the most of their knowledge and experience to become their own boss, often for the first time, and start their own business.

The generations that have been labelled many things – Baby boomers and Generation X, Hippies, Yuppies, Sloane Rangers – can now add “Quintastics” (healthy and good looking) or even “Olderpreneurs” as some have coined to describe the considerable proportion that have become entrepreneurs.

According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s GEM UK 2014 Report a record number of people in America aged between 50 and 64 are starting companies. Over 7.1% of over 50s were engaged in entrepreneurial activity in 2014. The UK is a little behind that number. According to Age UK 2016 “Later Life in the United Kingdom” over 1.87 million people aged 50+ work for themselves. This may be due to more opportunities being available, but of course the underlying demographics must play a large part in this number.

Like many other countries, the UK’s age structure is shifting towards later ages. By 2050, it is projected that one in four people in the UK will be aged 65 years and over – an increase from approximately one in five in 2018 (Statista 2019)

Reasons for the surge of older business people are varied, but in a world where pensions are worth less, retirement is increasingly delayed and life expectancy is 20-30 years longer than for previous generations, it makes no sense to consider those in their 50’s as past it. We may well have a further 2 decades of useful working life in front of us so why not reinvent ourselves if we choose.

The UK government survey(2016) suggests:

  • There are over 23.6 million people aged 50+
  • Of which 11.6 million people aged 65+
  • There are more people aged 60+ than there are under 18.5

History has proven that age need not be a barrier to building business empires. Well known brands including KFC, Coca Cola and MacDonald’s were all established by founders when they were over 50.

In fact research by the Cranfield School of Management suggests that businesses run by people in their 50’s surpass the average business performance in terms of growth rates and employment opportunities.

Additionally, in 2014, The Prince of Wales’s charity Prime, (before it merged with Business in the Community) stated that “If the employment rate of 50 to 64 year olds matched that of 35-49 age group, the UK economy could be boosted by £88 billion.”

So what advantages do older generations have over their younger counterparts?

Experience and industry knowledge are of course up the top, but also networks.  During 30 or more years of working life you will have developed relationships and got to know who the key players are in your sector; an invaluable asset when you start your own business.  And with mortgages paid off and pensions pots easier to access, financial stability need not be a problem either.

If this is the first time you’ve started an organisation of your own, where do you start?

  • Work out where you passion lies

  • Then play to your strengths

You have spent the last few decades discovering what you enjoy doing and what you don’t, so now is the time to make work as fun as it can possibly be and avoid the things that made you want to stay under the duvet every work day. The chances are, what you enjoy doing is also what you are good at.  Whether it’s dealing with people or paper work, working with your hands or solving problems we all like to feel we have done a good days work. If you can do something you are passionate about you will never do another days work in your life – it will be a joy to get out of bed and get paid for doing what you love.

  • Why are you doing this?

  • What are your goals?

What is your motivation?  Do you want to help your community solve a problem? Or maybe it is a hobby that you have, or an idea you have nurtured that you now want to develop into your dream business. Do you want to bring in a little extra to supplement your pension or are you looking for a substantial income?

Whether you are 60 or 20 laying the foundations for a successful and sustainable business requires the same thought, research and planning, so do your homework first.  And remember, it’s probably going to bring some highs some lows and a lot of hard work, but for those of us who aren’t ready to spend every day on the settee with the Radio Times it’s going to be an interesting ride!

PurpleCeed are here to help. Join our network of over 900 entrepreneurs, opportunity seekers and investors and find out more. For more information about the first steps to planning your business take a look at The Exciting Path From Idea to Business Plan.

Carolyn George is founder of If Not Now and is a management consultant with over 25 years experience.