Article by Ceri Wheeldon
How easy is it to set up a new business over the age of 50?
With working lives being extended and retirement incomes affected by the recent financial crisis, more and more people in their fifties are setting up their own business.
Experience and maturity in business do help
1 in 6 new businesses in the UK are being set up by the over 50s, adding £24billion to the economy. The survival rate of new business set up by those over 50 is 70%, compared to just 28% of businesses set up by the under 50s. Experience and maturity do matter- and do count- and do contribute to a business’s chance of success.
For women, it is often the first time in their lives that they have had the time to focus on doing something for themselves, rather than look after the family, whether from a time or financial perspective.
There are many resources available to help support those setting up a business.
Here are just a few useful pointers:
Prime Initiative – helping the 50+ become self-employed
The Prime Intitiative is a charitable organisation, founded by the Prince of Wales 10 years ago, specifically to assist the 50+ become self-employed. Their mentoring service is an excellent way to connect to a volunteer mentor to help consolidate your thoughts, and have someone not immediately involved or close to you sanity check your ideas for your business and your plans for implementation.
PRIME’s Universal Offer provides a distance learning, web and internet based service, providing
guides, work-books, information, sign-posting and a monthly newsletter.
PRIME’s Intermediate Offer consists of events,training workshops and seminars, and pre-enterprise
mentoring. It is designed for people who need a face-to-face interaction to help, guide and inspire.
PRIME’s Enhanced Offer is designed for those who need much more one-to-one help and assistance.
It includes far more training and individual guidance,but also offers a loan fund and investment support
to those who cannot access traditional forms of capital.
About 40% of people contacting Prime go on to set up their own businesses.
Business Link soon to be disbanded, but still offering valuable resources, whether you wish take advantage of their voucher scheme to have initial consultations with professionals (such as solicitors) or attend one of their many workshops or networking events – it is well worth taking a look at.
Are you eligible for a grant for your business?
You may be eligible for funding through a grant scheme, especially if your business is likely to create jobs in a regeneration area. There are grants available at varying levels administered by Central Government, Regional Development Agencies and Local Government, charitable Trusts. An excellent website to check out what’s available and your eligibility is www.j4bgrants.co.uk
Free websites are available to new businesses
In today’s information age most new business need a website. Again there is a scheme ‘Get British Business Online’ www.gbbo.co.uk which offers a free website including free hosting for 2 years for those wanting a brochure website (it is not suitable yet for setting up an ecommerce site), but provides a free .co.uk address and hosting and provides training and advice to help you to get started.
Working tax credits aimed at people of 50+
Until April 2012 you may also be eligible for a working tax credit aimed specifically at people of 50+ returning to work if they have been on benefits – this could be an excellent safety net for the first year of your new business and is well worth investigating.
Building your presence as an ‘expert’ for your new business
If you want to become known as an ‘expert’ in your field prior to your business launch, then there are always options to start a blog (see wordpress.com or blogger.com for examples), a twitter presence, and a facebook fanpage – all of which are currently free of charge, and can help create your market identity.
Just a few practical ideas if you are thinking of becoming one of a growing band of ‘divapreneurs’.