In recent years, entrepreneurship has commonly been associated with tech industries and it is the youth of these innovators that is often the determining factor emphasised in these success stories. This focus overlooks a growing trend of those aged 50 and over who are starting successful business ventures in the UK. With more people living longer, there is a large talent pool of individuals who can significantly contribute to the country’s economy later in life. The UK is currently experiencing a golden age of older entrepreneurship. This is a subject that I am keen to champion and one which has been, until now, largely overlooked by the media.
As many of you may know, I am a strong advocate for continuing to work later on in life. My mother instilled in me the importance of keeping your mind active and continuing to make a useful contribution to society. She did not retire until she was 88 years old and thereafter almost immediately got dementia.
Being your own boss is undeniably a challenge but it can be incredibly empowering and liberating. By running your own business you can take charge of your working hours and make them responsive to your needs and your lifestyle. You also have the freedom to decide when, and if, you want to retire.
So let’s move the conversation away from the negative connotations associated with aging and note the tremendous benefits that experience can bring to entrepreneurship. Those in their 50s and 60s are likely to be equipped with the necessary business acumen, skills, contacts and importantly the capital to make their idea a reality. The government’s decision to allow people to unlock their pensions and utilise the funds in whatever way they see fit is one way to fund a new business venture.
If you are inspired, or are one of the growing numbers who have set up a business later in life, I would urge you to fully utilise the services that the IoD offers. It is a useful tool kit that equips you with the best possible information, skills and support to help establish and further grow your business.
Were I to set up my own venture, which I am sorely tempted to do – if only I could find the time !- I would sign up to our renowned professional development courses and enhance my skillset even further. A willingness to continue to learn and improve is an excellent attitude to have when you are establishing a business. There is a whole host of training courses on offer. For me incorporating social media into a business strategy is a course that I am particularly interested in.
For those challenging questions during the initial stages of your growing business, I would draw upon the information advisory service which offers tailored legal and business advice.
To aid my entrepreneurial endeavour further, I would join IoD Advance, an enhanced membership that I have encouraged many of my friends to join. IoD Advance is specifically designed by directors, for directors, to strengthen your business network.The Advance app enables you to curate your network and provides a gateway to meet and engage with other likeminded Advance professionals. It also gives you access to exclusive workshops and events to accelerate and inspire your business.
It is important to remember that you are never too old to realise your dreams in owning your own business, in the words of Walt Disney: ‘the way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing’.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE