One of the issues that has been occupying my thoughts is the ageing demographic of the UK. Our country’s ageing population is often depicted as a strain on society, particularly on the NHS. As of 2001, those aged 65 and older outnumber those under 15, and this imbalance continues to increase. With the state pension set to rise to 68, it is inevitable that people need to undertake new challenges beyond the time when previous generations stopped working.
This development is not, however, totally negative. Spurred by necessity, a growing number of older people starting their own businesses, a trend I wrote about in the Sunday Telegraph recently.
I am a strong advocate for working later in life. I have even gone as far as to say that I would like to die at my desk! Continuing to be an active and contributing member of society is hugely beneficial, not only to the health of the economy, but also for our personal mental health and well-being.
Young technology entrepreneurs remain a favourite subject for the media. It is, however, those in their 50s and 60s who are far more likely to possess the capital, contacts and, crucially, the experience needed to start a successful company.
Research conducted in 2014 by an initiative for mature entrepreneurs, PRIME, found that more than 70 per cent of sexagenarian entrepreneurs’ ventures survived for at least five years. For younger entrepreneurs, the figure was only 28 per cent.
The environment for older entrepreneurs has never been better. The UK is ranked by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as one of the top ten developed countries where it is easiest to start a business. Combined with recent reforms that allow people to unlock their pensions, the ambition to start a venture later in life is open to greater and greater numbers.
The IoD’s policy team is conducting research on the subject at the moment, and if you would like to contribute, you can take their survey by signing up for Policy Voice here. Aspiring entrepreneurs out there can also take full advantage of the expert training, legal and business advice that we offer at the IoD. This could be a golden age for older entrepreneurs, and it is never too late to set up a business.
Staying on the subject of work, February brought with it an opportunity to pursue one of my key objectives as Chairman, to promote and assist women in business. I had the pleasure of hosting an event for leading women in business, law and politics, giving them a chance to come together to form new networks and celebrate their achievements.
For the younger women in attendance, the event was proof that it is possible for women to aspire and reach the executive level. These events enable me to introduce more women to the IoD, many of whom have become members as a result.
Young women in particular need encouragement from us all. As they tend to underestimate themselves.
I will be holding more of these events in future, and if you have ideas for how we can do more to help women in business, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lady Barbara Judge CBE