Middle aged entrepreneurs have the most success

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With an election on the horizon, leaders from both sides of the political spectrum have been drawing up bold plans to tackle youth unemployment. Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to create 80,000 new apprentices a year whilst David Cameron is talking-up a scheme to make unemployed 18-21 year-olds undertake mandatory daily work experience.

Whilst pledges abound on the future of UK youth employment prospects, promises for the middle aged are conspicuous by their absence. In fact the over-50s demographic are far more likely to suffer long-term unemployment than younger workers and whilst increased awareness of racism, disability and sexism have long been a consideration of employers, age discrimination has seemingly been left behind.

Without the support of employers, the over-50s are increasingly turning to entrepreneurship to plug the gap left by lack of job opportunities. Nicky Templeton, director of partnerships at the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise (Prime), explains the rise of the ‘silver haired entrepreneur’. “There are those who go down this route out of necessity, but we are also seeing a growing trend of over 50s starting up a business because they want to make a positive change and take their destiny into their own hands,” she says.

HR consultant Paul Murray launched his own firm in 2012 after realising the short fall of his pension “When I got to 60, I thought that was an appropriate time to look at my pension provisions, and I was dismayed to find that the pensions I had been paying into for about 30 years were only going to produce a fraction of what I was told when I took them out,” he says.

The first six months of the business proved to be a struggle, “I came awfully close to giving up,” he says. “I have no idea about marketing, and of course the world has changed – back in 1980 I got work through word of mouth. But when you are starting from scratch how do you get that first person in the first place?”


“The first six months proved to be a struggle, I came awfully close to giving up…”


In another example, 51 year old Tracey Marshall launched her business on Not On The High Street, which offers custom embroidery, in April 2013. “I have always sewn and bought an embroidery machine. I had been practising and working out a way of making a living from sewing,” she says. “I was very determined that I was not going back to that call centre.”

According to charity AgeUK, the level of self-employment in the 50-plus age group is about 1 in 5, considerably higher than levels across other age groups. The charity’s research also highlights the surprising success of the over-50s start-up, with over 70% lasting more than 5 years, compared with 28% of younger entrepreneurs.

Have you struggled to find work because of your age? Do you think it’s a limiting factor? Would you consider setting up your own business as an alternative to traditional employment? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

The content team are the owners of AAT Comment.

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