Senior startups worth billions to Britain

Oct 31 2007 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Around one in every six of all new businesses in the UK are founded by people aged over 50 and together they now contribute more than £24bn annually to the British economy.

Research commissioned by Yellow Pages has also found that while the majority of older entrepreneurs work alone and from home, their businesses still turn over an average £67,500 (almost $135,000) a year and one in 10 have revenues in excess of £100,000 ($200,000).

Women were more likely than men (28 per cent compared to 15 per cent of men) to be have started a business following a lifestyle change such as ill health or divorce. Indeed, almost one in five women over 50 who started businesses were not working immediately before they did so.

But for both genders, the most common reasons for wanting to go it alone were freedom and happiness - a desire to do something they enjoyed, a yearning for better work/life balance and not wanting to work for someone else.

Just one in six of those surveyed had run their own business before, with four out of 10 having worked in a completely different field before setting up on their own.

With nearly half of these entrepreneurs saying that they are happier that they have ever been before, it isn't surprising that six out of 10 regret not going it alone earlier in life.

Most said that they have no thoughts of retirement and see their business as their pension plan Ė indeed seven out of 10 want to run their business for as long as they are able .

Mark Hart, professor of small business research at Kingston University which analysed the research, said: "There is clear evidence that the entrepreneurial activities of this diverse group are capable of providing sustainable incomes as they engage in new business ventures resulting from many years of experience.

"This is an important finding in the context of a growing reliance upon state pensions by an ageing population."

The clear message to emerge from the research is that older people are far from afraid to take a risk by changing career later in life. As half of those surveyed said, the key piece of advice they would give to other over 50s would be to 'go for it'.