Does entrepreneurship begin at 50?

Entrepreneurship has long been seen to be the domain of the young, yet an emerging trend of recent years appears to be challenging this assumption.

Today it seems that it’s not only young people who are looking to set up a business. An increasing number of the over 50′s are also wanting to give entrepreneurship a go and put the skills and experience they have accumulated to good use.

According to the Office for National Statistics, of the additional 613,000 people who have joined the workforce since 2008 over 0.5 million of them have been self-employed. And of those joining the self-employed ranks around 70% have been found to be amongst the over 50′s. While the reasons for this are inevitably varied, this does appear to provide some evidence that the over 50′s are challenging traditionally held notions about entrepreneurship.

Reasons why entrepreneurship in the over 50′s is increasing

Given the over 50′s are twice as likely to be made redundant, and have a lower chance of being re-employed, it is inevitable that some of this increase in the self-employed of that age group can be put down to necessity. The demise of final salary pensions and the abandonment of the statutory retirement age are also factors which are making this necessity more acute.

However, as the well-known saying goes 'necessity is the mother of invention', and it also true that many more experienced workers simply do not want to work for somebody else anymore. They have a desire to take on new challenges and turn their passions into a profitable venture.

The over 50′s entrepreneurs may not typically be the most tech savvy or gadget geeks but they are people who have gone through the ups and downs of professional life and have acquired a huge amount of skill and experience on the way. They believe they still have much to achieve and can see self-employment as a way they can leverage their skills, hobbies and passions to create a new venture where they can be their own boss. And becoming self-employed and launching a start up business gives them an opportunity to do just that.

Over 50′s more likely to succeed with their start up business?

Research from The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME) has also found that businesses launched by the over 50′s  are 70% more likely to survive the first 5 years compared to 28% for younger entrepreneurs.

The success of this group of ‘olderpreneurs’ clearly highlights age is no barrier to successful entrepreneurship and it will be interesting to follow whether the rapid increase in the number of self-employed over the age of 50 – a 21% increase since 2008 – is set to continue.

Whilst entrepreneurship is undoubtedly risky whenever you start the journey, and it is not the only option for the over 50′s looking for new challenges, it is clear that age is proving to be no barrier to those looking to set up a new business.


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