Institute of Public Policy Research’s 2014 Report on Silver Cities talks about the impact of two great global trends upon developed economies: urbanisation and demographic ageing. With falling birth rates and most people living longer and healthier lives than previous generations did, population ageing is now the dominant demographic trend in advanced economies. While different places experience it in different ways, this trend is clear everywhere.
An increasing number of the over 50 set are not satisfied regarding this period, the “Autumn years” of their lives, simply as the doorway opening to the decline into old age. They want to remain productive and fulfilled and many are guided by the desire to give something back to the community. That can mean making the most of their knowledge and experience to become their own boss, often for the first time, and start their own business.
The generations that have been labelled many things – Baby boomers and Generation X, Hippies, Yuppies, Sloane Rangers – can now add “Quintastics” (healthy and good looking) or even “Olderpreneurs” as some have coined to describe the considerable proportion that have become entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs are realising that they can benefit from the practical skills they amassed during their careers spanning many years. They have also come to realize that they can benefit by using the internet which can help entrepreneurs start a business in a small yet effective way and run it from the comfort of their home.
Businesses started by olderpreneurs cover various businesses from printing and tea shops to theatres. Contrary to expectations, many of the businesses started by this group are those that deal with the latest areas of communications and technology. There are very many advantages older people have over young people in terms of starting a business. Older people have chalked up many years of working experience, knowledge, skills, contacts to draw on and the confidence to guide them through tough times. A young person may not have all these qualities the olderpreneurs have. Statistics have shown that old entrepreneurs are more successful than those who start at a younger age.
According to the charity Age UK, more than 70 percent of businesses started by people in their fifties survive for at least five years compared to 28 per cent of those started by younger people. Indeed, McDonald’s franchise founder Raymond Kroc was 52 when he began working with the McDonald brothers to create the world’s most famous food chain in 1955. He was 59 when he bought them out and took over completely.
While much of the focus and support for startups by the governments and other organisations has been aimed at younger people, the over 50’s have been applying their skills and experience much to the benefit of small medium enterprise economy worldwide.
So next time your grand parent, father, mother or you come up with a business idea, don’t think it’s too late!
Becoming an entrepreneur is not only for the young