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Huge growth in older entrepreneurs: how you can join them

Written by: John Fitzsimons
Data from Barclays Business has revealed a massive 140% increase in the number of business owners aged 65 and over in the last decade.

Over the same time period there has also been a significant increase in the number of businesses owned by people over the age of 55, with a jump of 63%. In contrast there has been a much more modest growth in younger entrepreneurs, with businesses owned by people aged 25-34 increasing by 23%.

Barclays has taken on Liz Earle, founder of the skincare company that bears her name, as Entrepreneurial Business Advisor to outline ways that banks can do more to support older entrepreneurs.

Earle said: “The older generation adds so much value to the workplace in any context – bringing a wealth of experience and industry contacts to the table. I’m not surprised to see so many budding entrepreneurs of my generation, but it’s great to see them taking the plunge in later life, rather than feeling it’s too late.”

Earle outlined 10 top tips for people looking to start their own business in their later years.

1) Have confidence in your abilities

Older people bring with them a wealth of experience and the ability to see the bigger picture, crucial assets to any business and a useful complement to the skills offered by younger staff.

2) Know your subject

It’s crucial that you never stop reading about and researching your business’ subject to ensure you have an in-depth and considered knowledge on it.

3) Understand your business strategy

Not only do you need to have the concept fully thought out, you need to understand and be able to explain to others how it translates into a business. If you can’t do this, you will struggle to secure support and funding. Practicing your pitch to friends and family can be very useful here, so that you can present your idea in a clear and concise way. 

4) Embrace technology

Older people are understandably reticent about technology, but it is crucial to a modern business. There is plenty of free support available to older entrepreneurs on how to make the most of technology and social media too.

5) Take your time

Don’t let anyone rush your decisions. Each one may have a long-term impact on you and your business, so take as long as you need to ensure you make the right decision.

6) Think about your health

Prioritising your own health and well-being is enormously important for older people. That means eating well, keeping on the move and ensuring you get enough sleep.

7) Trust your instincts

Follow your strong instincts as they are most likely to be right.

8) Find your passion

Building a business takes enormous amounts of time, energy and commitment, so it needs to be something you truly love.

9) Don’t compromise on your family

Make sure you prioritise what’s important to you, ensuring that family events are put into the work diary and not moved for the sake of work. By embracing technology you can be more efficient, ensuring you have time for what matters most.

10) Ask for help

Whether it’s family members or business contacts, there are plenty of people who will be only too happy to provide some level of support, no matter how small. Don’t be afraid to ask them to help you.

The big growth in the self-employed

Britain is increasingly becoming a nation of people who want to work for themselves. According to figures from Direct Line for Business, the number of self-employed workers has jumped by 23% over the last decade, from 3.8 million to nearly 4.7 million.

In the last year alone, the number of self-employed people has increased by more than 174,000.

Interestingly, freelancers have enjoyed much stronger income growth than their employed counterparts according to research from freelance marketplace PeoplePerHour and the University of Westminster Business School. The analysis found that between 2010 and 2015 the mean hourly rate for freelancers using the site jumped by more than a quarter, from £16.34 to £20.73.

Over the same period, employees saw their salaries improve by just 4.52%, from £14.60 to £15.26, according to data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour, said: “With more highly-skilled professionals seeking equilibrium in their work-life balance, many are turning to self-employment as a way to both command higher hourly rates and to have the autonomy they crave.

“Equally, as companies switch on to the many benefits of the freelance workforce, freelancers are able to pick and choose their clients and negotiate the hourly rate they are worth, and in turn, businesses are willing to pay more for the skills, expertise and flexibility such a workforce brings.”

As attractive as the idea of being your own boss undoubtedly is, there are many things to consider before you make the move, not least how you want to handle your tax situation. Read’s Plan to work past state pension age? The key facts for more information. 

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