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Setting up your own business in your 50s may keep you healthy

Dr Shaw says the UK is seeing a wave of new businesses set up by those over 50, who have faced the difficulties of finding a new job due to redundancy.  

According to research from over-50 business starter support charity The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME) out of the 11 million people between 50 and 64, around 3.2 million (33%) are economically inactive with many facing the added pressures of paying the mortgage, saving for retirement and looking after families, which could include children still living at home, elderly parents, or even both.

On the flip side nearly half the self-employed population is over 50, and one in six new businesses started in the UK are set up by post-half-centurions. 

Furthermore businesses started by people over 50 have a 70% chance of surviving their first five years - compared with only a 28% survival rate for those younger than them.

Dr Shaw says changing jobs in our 50s is the ideal time because we naturally reinvent ourselves as we mature.  “We are in our prime to try something different, perhaps a job we always wanted to do.   We have life experience, strong relationships, and the children have grown up, so it is often the perfect time to reinvest in ourselves.  We are also more capable and knowledgeable than ever, and can contribute enormously to the economy, community and society as a whole, in something that we might be more passionate about than the job we may have been doing previously.  More than ever, many of us are now living to 100 years so why should we be settling for the mundane or stopping work at the half way point?!” 

Shaw believes this is backed up by the fact that many of us are planning to work into our seventies both because we enjoy working and because we are living longer and need to fund our extra years. 

“Research shows that as we get older we spend more time talking to people.  This means that we are more likely to build relationships that are mutually beneficial in both our private lives and business, resulting in more sales and growth.”  

Today, the average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times during his or her career, but this often slows down towards the second half of our working lives because we don’t want to rock the boat and find ourselves unemployed according to Shaw.  For workers over 50 years old who need or want to think about other ways to finance themselves and generate social and personal fulfilment, self-employment provides a viable solution. 

“The fact is that at 50 something you have accrued a wealth of knowledge and business and social experience over a long working period.  Setting up a successful company when over 50 instils self-worth and value, financial independence, the chance to use all the skills built up over a lifetime of working, flexibility and the opportunity for a new challenge.  We know that either losing a job, or early retirement, can cause possible anxiety, isolation, poverty and a sedentary lifestyle.  If you have set up your own business and your work is fulfilling and you are feeling sharp because you are passionate about it, then you are more likely to stay mentally fit and healthy. Changing jobs in our 50s keeps us fresh and we are more likely to choose something we really want to do rather than something we just settle for.

“For the 50-plus age group, personal referrals and networking continues to be the best way to get new business, but half centurions do need to be up to date in their knowledge of social media and the world of IT to stay ahead.”

Speaking from experience of her talks with organisations including pension funds and HR professionals, Shaw says, “In business there is still the issue of redundancy of older workers with only a small percentage of organizations realising and addressing the problems of this talent loss.  Is it any wonder that the 50’s plus are leaving their companies in droves and setting up their own businesses before they are pushed?”

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