Over 50s Overjoyed with Entrepreneurship

Over 50s Overjoyed with Entrepreneurship

Oct. 28, 2007

It’s never too late to start
a business, and the UK’s over 50s are proving it.

And senior start-up entrepreneurs,
who contribute £24.4bn to the economy every year, are not just doing it
for money – there doing it for fun and to maintain a better work/life balance.

The research, carried out by the
Yellow Pages and analysed by Kingston University’s Small Business Research
Centre, delves specifically into new businesses established by older entrepreneurs
and shows the group are becoming a powerful force within UK plc.

It identifies an emerging group of
senior startups (business owners aged 50 and over who have set up in the last
five years) who account for approximately one in six (16%) fledgling businesses
in the UK each year.

The study seeks to understand the
motivations of this group, and whether they reap the benefits of their greater
life experience.

According to the study:

* Senior start-ups turn
over an average £67.5k per year and tend to work alone, from home
* Most entrepreneurs in this group (61%) regret not having set up on their
own earlier in life, with just under half (44%) claiming they are now happier
than they’ve ever been
* Most have no thoughts of retirement and see their business as their pension
plan. More than two thirds (71%) want to run their business for as long as
they are able
* Businesses within this group tend to be financed by savings – with
only 13% funded by bank loans
* The main motivations for starting up a company at this time of life are
a desire to do something pleasurable (39%), obtaining a better work/life balance
(29%) and not wanting to work for someone else (24%)

The study was commissioned
to coincide with Yellow Pages’ sponsorship of the Startup Awards Silver
Fox category – an accolade that recognises and rewards successful startups
with inspirational over 50s at the helm.

Commenting on the research,
Mark Hart, professor of small business research at Kingston University and PRIME
trustee said: “This research adds greatly to our knowledge of the over
50s’ contribution to enterprise in the UK. There is clear evidence that
the entrepreneurial activities of this diverse group are capable of providing
sustainable incomes as they engage in new business ventures resulting from many
years of experience. This is an important finding in the context of a growing
reliance upon state pensions by an ageing population.”

For most senior start-up
entrepreneurs, business is a lone concern (79% work alone), or their enterprise
is kept small and compact with between one and five employees (18%). The majority
(82%) work from a home office and one in 10 work from a workshop or retail unit.
One in 10 turns over more than £100k.

Most popular over 50s startups
business fields:

1 Professional and business
2 Retail, hire and repair
3 IT and Telecommunications services
4 Arts, sports and recreation
5 Media and creative services
6 Construction

Ambition comes with age

About one in 10 senior entrepreneurs
say they’re more ambitious and motivated than when they were younger,
which has contributed to their business achievements. Around half say age and
experience has been a key advantage and hard work and commitment is what makes
their business tick.

A leap into the unknown

Only 16% of those questioned
had run their own business before, with 41% having worked in a completely different
field before setting up on their own.

Confident enough to go it
alone, almost one in five senior startup entrepreneurs are inspired to take
the plunge by family and friends or work colleagues, with only one in 10 being
influenced by television shows like Dragon’s Den, despite their popularity.

Freedom and happiness

The majority of senior start-up
entrepreneurs view freedom and happiness at work as much bigger motivators than
making money. More than a third of over 50s said the reason for setting up on
their own was ‘to do something they enjoy’, while nearly a third
again wanted to achieve a better work/life balance.

Around a quarter claim they
were frustrated working for someone else but only 12% want to ‘make lots
of money’. Only 2% say they want to create a nationwide business, while
two in five say that their main ambition for their business is to keep it small
and ‘niche’.

The gender divide

Women are more likely than
men (28% compared to 15%) to be prompted to start up on their own following
a lifestyle change such as ill health, divorce or moving house. One in five
women who started a business over the age of 50 were not working immediately
before setting up their businesses.

Happier than they’ve
ever been

While it’s not all
plain sailing for this burgeoning group of small business owners (with challenges
such as building up a customer base cited by almost half and marketing their
business by more than one in 10), a large proportion (44%) say that they’re
happier working for themselves than they have ever been. Around a third of all
respondents say that they love their work and more than half say that the key
piece of advice they would give to other over 50s would be to ‘go for

To find out more about the
study, as well as advice and tips on setting up a business as a senior start-up
entrepreneur, go to peoplebehindthenumbers.com

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