Article by Helen Sherlock
They say that 50 is the new 30, and in some ways that’s true – we’re certainly much younger and healthier than previous generations as they turned 50 – but we’ve also had the opportunity to gain much more self-awareness, and assurance in ourselves. We know what works for us and that makes women over 50 great entrepreneurs.
Using Age To Our Advantage
When asking women over 50 about their experiences of starting up with their own business, many admit that it’s a risk – but a well timed, well thought out and well orchestrated one.
For most of us, with over a quarter of a century’s worth of working life under our belts, even if we’ve been unsure until now what we wanted to do with our lives – now is the time to take control and make a difference – to make it count.
“I was made redundant from a high powered, corporate job when I was just 49. It took me a few months to work it all out in my head, but after a number of applications that fell by the wayside without even so much as an interview, I decided I’d have to take matters into my own hands” said 54 year old Patsy from East Anglia.
“I’m not old and I’m not ready to give up work”
“I’m not old – I know I’m not ready to give up work. And I know my skills and experience are highly sought after. So I decided to take the gamble and set up my own business. I’ve never looked back!”
Patsy isn’t alone, and recent YouGov and Standard Life research found that while 37 is the average age at which people feel totally confident in their working skills, it’s not until we’re 50 that a sense of fulfilment really peaks.
And according to PRIME – the over 50s business starter support charity – businesses started by people over 50 have a 70% chance of survival in their first five years. That’s compared with just a 28% rate of surviving for younger people.
Once we’ve taken that first leap of faith in ourselves and decided to start up in business, finding funding may be the next step on the journey.
While looking online, it easily seems as though there are a number of grants aimed at younger people starting their own businesses. And there are certainly fewer available especially designed for those of us who are over 50. But there are a number of options open to us.
As well as applying for a bank loan, or seeking venture capital or angel investments, there is:
PRIME – the Princes Initiative for Mature Enterprise specifically supporting people over 50 who are creating new business offers low interest loans.
Start Up Loans – a Government-funded scheme that was previously only available for 18 to 30 year olds, has now been extended to people of all ages.
NESTA – The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts runs Age Unlimited, a group aimed at keeping over-50s in work and engaged with their local communities.
Also a popular choice for us as we start up in business aged 50 or over is self financing our business. Perhaps less risky, less costly and easier to control than choosing a traditional loan, it also enables us to retain total control of our new business.
“I was made redundant while I was pregnant with my first child and decided not to go back to work while the children were in school. When it came to looking at what to do once that point came, all my original career skills were well out of date. My husband has his own business so I wasn’t daunted at the prospect of setting up on my own. I retrained and, as I had left my redundancy money untouched, I used that to get myself started.” says Mel, 50 and a holistic therapist.
But self financing doesn’t necessarily need to be money we have sitting in the bank. As well as remortgaging, private borrowing and credit card borrowing, for some, selling assets is an option.
Kerry, a business coach was so sure of her business idea that she decided to sell a ring to finance her training and her new business set up. “It was a ring I no longer wore – an emblem of the past. I decided to sell it to set up for my future”.
Beware the disadvantages of self funding though. It can bring with it a big emotional involvement with the business that might be easier to detach if using business loans or grants than if using hard earned personal savings. Remortgaging can lead to a loss of property if a business fails to thrive, and personal borrowing can mean relationships with friends and family are stressed.
Setting Up In New Business – Support For Women Over 50
Finding funding is just one step on the road to starting up a new business, and there’s a lot to set in place before registering a company, but it need not be hard and we don’t need to do it on our own. Drawing upon the many resources online, the things we need to consider are all laid out to help and there are many more stories and support from women over 50 who’ve already started their businesses.
With so much more to offer now we’re 50, the question is not ‘will we set up in business’ but ‘when’?