An old dog doesn’t have to learn new tricks: Olderpreneurs in the UK

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By Scott Brown*

While it’s often thought that age may dim employment prospects for those in their mid-50s, nothing is stopping an experienced worker embarking on a second career on their own. We’re beginning to see that there’s no longer a need for senior business people to slug it out with inexperienced would-be employers willing to work for a fraction of the salary you are worth. In the UK, a new generation of entrepreneurs with skills, experience and finances are starting businesses for the first time. They’re making a success of it. Allow me to tell you about olderpreneurs.

Timing is everything

Employees over 50 have become somewhat of a rarity in the UK workforce, with many companies letting go of high-earning employees who are in their mid-50s to short-sightedly increase their bottom line. These employees aren’t ready to stop working, and often willing to put in a good 15-20 years of hard work before they eventually settle down into a leisurely retirement.

Often large lump sums of money such as retirement funds, transfer valuations on salary schemes, redundancy payments and even inheritances start arriving in your mid-50s. With money in the bank and years of experience under your belt, the timing couldn’t be better to start up a new business venture. Self-employment is an attractive alternative; after all, age discrimination doesn’t exist when you’re your own boss.

The UK recently grabbed the number one spot on Forbes’ esteemed Best Countries for Business list for 2018, climbing up from 10th position in 2015 and fifth in 2017. The UK was also ranked in the top 10 countries with the most favourable conditions for entrepreneurs to start up new businesses in 2017 by the Global Entrepreneur Index. This makes Britain a seriously attractive prospect for seasoned veterans of the business world.

Olderpreneurs just do it better

Olderpreneurs have shown to be more successful than their younger counterparts. According to research done by the Cranfield School of Management, businesses run by those over 50 drive up revenues three and a half times faster than GDP growth. Not only this, but older entrepreneurs create jobs at a rate more than seven times faster than the UK economic average.

All of this is great news for the UK economy. If the employment rate of 59- to 64-year-olds matched that of 35- to 49-year-olds, the UK economy could be boosted by £88 billion. It seems these old dogs have a few new tricks to teach the younger generations, and the UK government is taking notice.

No substitute for experience
Flag map of the United Kingdom

Twenty-year olds may have the energy to pull all-nighters at work, and younger people are often associated with fresh new ideas, but older entrepreneurs bring other formidable advantages to the table. An in-depth knowledge of business built up through years in the workforce, as well as potential management experience and a large professional network are just some of the reasons olderpreneurs are so successful.

Those who start a business later in life are also more likely to invest their time and money into something they are passionate about. Experience and passion are a powerful combination, so it’s easy to see why seniors are doing so well in the start-up space.

Daunting, but worth it!

The work involved in launching a business can be daunting at first, but the level of autonomy and fulfilment in owning one’s own business can make it all worthwhile. The lower taxes and generally business-friendly legislative framework are big wins for anyone thinking about setting up a business in the UK, but having the right partner in your corner throughout the process can make all the difference.

We’ve noticed that UK businesses that are just starting out often need assistance with the financial and legal essentials at this crucial stage. A UK-based accounting division can assist you with setting up and structuring your business to get you started and ensure you are operating in the most tax-efficient manner.

  • Scott Brown is the Managing Director of Accounting at Sable International.