One of the most popular trends in 21st Century Britain is people starting businesses and becoming entrepreneurs, especially since the financial crisis in 2008.
You might think that the typical image of an entrepreneur is someone cool and trendy; maybe they’re involved in technology, have a funky office in London and are below the age of 50. But The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise – or Prime – is on a mission to dispel this myth and says that anyone can start a business. There are 4.5 million people who are working for themselves and around 40 per cent of that number are over the age of 50. All you need is an idea, a laptop and a ‘can-do’ attitude. Age should be no barrier and could actually be your greatest asset. Prime is a charity and was originally established by HRH The Prince of Wales in response to the many letters he was receiving from older people who wanted to work but were being denied opportunities because of their age.
The over-50s face significant hurdles preventing them from becoming fully active and engaged in the workplace. We’re living longer and spending more of our lives in retirement. And not everyone can afford to stop working when they are entitled to claim their state pension as they might not have saved enough money through the years and are still paying large bills or taking care of dependents. However, we have found that if you’re over 50, its not been so easy to remain in employment. The over-50s have a higher rate of long-term unemployment, especially compared to younger workers. They face a higher risk of being made involuntarily redundant, and in one of our recent reports we discovered that up to 1.4 million 50 to 69-year-olds during the past eight years have been involuntarily pushed out of work through a combination of ill-health, redundancy and forced early retirement. Prime proposes that being out of work when you’re older not only affects individuals due to a lack of earnings, possibly leading to worsening health conditions, but as a country we lose out too.
Boosting the economy
The UK’s population is ageing and unless measures are taken to support working longer, the size of Britain’s workforce is likely to flat-line. It’s projected to increase by just 4.5 per cent during the next 20 years by comparison to an 18.2 per cent rise during the past two decades. Additionally, if the employment rate of 50 to 64-year-olds matched that of 35-49 age group, the UK economy could be boosted by £88billion in terms of increased lost economic output in 2014. In order to help the over-50s back into gainful employment, Prime, now part of Business in the Community, helps older people start businesses if they are out of work, unemployed, facing redundancy or seeking new opportunities. It achieves this by offering guidance and support, as well as facilitating workshops and networking events to provide skills and suitable environments for mature entrepreneurs to succeed in business. Prime believes that enterprise is a viable route for older people as they have lots of experience and a high level of skills, which can easily be applied to enterprise. In fact, research by the Cranfield School of Management suggests that businesses run by people in their 50s surpass the average business performance in terms of growth rates and employment opportunities.
What if you’re new to business?
If you’re a first-time entrepreneur, where should you start first? The first step is to decide on your goals. So have a good long think and decide what you really want to accomplish. Consider what your reasons are for starting a business. Do you just want to bring in a little extra cash to supplement your pension? Is your goal to make a substantial income? Do you want to give something back and start a social enterprise? Once you have decided on your motivation for starting a business, here are a few key questions you will need to consider, which will help turn your thinking into a business plan:
• What are your goals for the project?
• What are your goals for the project?
• How will you measure your success?
• What is the customer problem that you are trying to solve?
• Who are your potential customers?
• Where do they go for information and to purchase goods and services?
• Who are your competitors?
• What do they do well?
• What can you do better?
• Could they be an ally?
• What is your product or service?
• How will you shout about it?
• What assets do you have to spread the word?
• How much money will you need to get started?
• Can you start small and grow with your sales?
• Are you social and digital media savvy?
• Is your profile up-to-date?
• Who do you know who can give you unbiased advice and support?
Once you have drafted your business plan, thinking about some of the questions above, the next step is to make networking a priority.
Play to your strengths
Mature entrepreneurs have a lifetime of friendships and business relationships to build on. So go and ask colleagues, friends, and business experts for help, while giving them specific things to help you with. Remember, people actually like being asked for help or to provide an opinion. And leveraging your network is not just about getting practical support. The journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur can be a lonely one, so surrounding yourself with positive people can make a big difference. Starting a business and getting it to a level where you are making some money won’t happen over-night so you need to be prepared to put in the long hours. It will make it much easier if you do something you’re passionate about as this will help you when you are working late at night or waiting for the phone to ring. Being flexible is another key trait that will help you, especially if you find, after a few months in, that your original plan might need to change to suit the market – you’ll have to be quick to adapt to new circumstances. Starting a business can be so rewarding. So go for it!
(Article source: This is Money)