Richard Ayre hasn’t had one career – he’s now into his fifth and has no intention of slowing down.
Aged 71, Richard represents the new breed of older entrepreneur as he continually seeks new challenges into which he can channel his expertise and experience. He started in the world of sales and marketing for big corporates including Coats Viyella and the Laird Group. He went on to assist a number of other corporates in an interim role and sat on several boards. During that time he completed an MBA and the Institute of Directors Chartered Director qualification.
Coming up to aged 60, when many would be thinking of taking it easy, he decided to step back from big business and do something completely different. He invested in a wine business, importing from small independent growers in France. After a very successful three years and having completed a number of wine industry qualifications, the business was sold and Richard concentrated on setting up Talkcoach with his speech therapist wife Anne. Talkcoach helps organisations such as emergency services and call centres support their staff in dealing with people with a communication difficulty.
His latest venture is Clickety Books, which creates educational resources to support children’s spoken and written language development and now exports to some 14 countries.
Richard says: “There are many benefits to being an older business entrepreneur. It’s easier to take business and financial risks because you probably have fewer long term commitments: our children have grown up and gone, for instance. I enjoy the contrast between my corporate experience and that of smaller businesses and what I have learned from both. And of course, there's some 40 odd years of building relationships and developing business skills to build on. What’s also stood me in good stead has been my belief in lifelong learning. You’re never too old to take on a new skill or understand a new sector."
Richard, who is based in Montacute, continues to invest his skills in pro bono non executive work: he was a non executive director of the International Management Board of the Association of MBAs for six years and sat on the Board of his local Citizen's Advice Bureau. He has also been a Branch and Regional Chairman for the IoD and sat on the IoD Council.
What’s next? He says: “We’ll see how Clickety Books is going in two or three years time and may seek a buyer. This business in particular has given me great satisfaction because it’s supporting children’s development so I feel we are giving back in some way. After that who knows but, health permitting, I’ve no intention of stopping, even if it is not another career but to continue to contribute in non executive roles or voluntary work."