Q. I’m in my 50s and have always wanted to start a business, am I too old? A. Definitely not!
Many fine businesses have been started by people with a bit of life behind them. In fact there has been a phenomenal rise in self-employment in women aged over 50 since the 2008 financial crash. They account for most of the 172,000 new UK businesses set up by women since then. That’s maybe one of the reasons most of the women I’m currently working with are over 50!
For many fifty-plus start-ups, self-employment is increasingly being considered as an option as a way of not having to reach into their savings. Other people may come to this decision if they are made redundant or simply want to make the most of their lives. Some have a lifetime’s dream and only gain the courage to put it into action as they reach middle age. They think to themselves “If I don’t do it now – when will I?”
There are various psychological theories around the stages we go through in life. One of them describes the last stage of life being where we choose between disappointment or fulfilment. Starting a business in your 50s can be tremendously fulfilling and of course scary too.
However there are many ways of minimising the risks involved that can be learned along the way. Good planning, adequate support and the ability to ask questions. I find that some of the greatest strengths an entrepreneur can draw from are the skills, knowledge and experience gleaned over time which can be transferred into a new situation. Knowing what you don’t want can be as important as knowing what you do. Priorities and values tend to be established and polished after going through life’s inevitable lessons.
The good news is that more than half of people who start a business over the age of 50 say they are happier than they’ve ever been. There is help and advice out there too – the Prince’s Trust PRIME website has many case studies of ‘olderpreneurs’ successfully starting businesses and enjoying their new independent lifestyle.
Being your own boss at any age can be most rewarding. This summer, unexpectedly, I saw 80 year old Rolf Harris perform in front of thousands of people and he was quite brilliant, amusing and talented. Age, as they say, is just a number.
About Anne Francis
Anne set up her first business in 1985. She currently runs Carnival Consulting specialising in socially motivated business support and a fitness company Nia Norfolk. She regularly contributes to local media, is ambassador for Norwich Lanes, a Princes Trust mentor and on the committee of FSB.