Britain has a growing army of ‘olderpreneurs’, hundreds of thousands of over-50s setting up their own firms for the first time.
But for many, it’s not all about suddenly finding their pioneering spirit; it is often necessity that drives them.
“The number of unemployed who are over 50 is also rising and for many it takes a long time to find another job,” explains Terry King, North of England regional development manager for PRIME, an organisation set up by Prince Charles specifically to help mature people needing to find work.
“Nearly half of the UK’s unemployed over 50s have been out of out of work for more than a year. This is a terrible waste as older people have years of skills and experience that could be benefiting the economy,”
“Those who have taken their company pension can’t get their state pension for years and are facing the prospect of making the money they have last a long time.
“Others are driven by a different but in some cases equally pressing need; to keep the old grey matter going. They are all ‘necessity entrepreneurs’.”
The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise is currently the only national organisation dedicated to supporting business creation by the over 50s entrepreneur.
The charity was founded by The Prince Of Wales in response to letters from mature people desperate to find work, but unable to find anyone to employ them because of their age.
Says Terry: “People were saying: the Prince’s Youth Trust has done amazing things for young people for 35 years; can he do something to help us?”
There are common problems older people self start-ups face, says PRIME. Finding courses where they can learn modern communications and I.T. skills can be difficult. Writing a business plan and finding finance after decades of being an employee can be daunting. But rebuilding confidence is the biggest issue.
“Someone made redundant after a career spanning decades has their confidence knocked for six. They need help to rebuild it, and to recognise they have many transferable skills,” explains Terry.
Launched in 1999, PRIME geared up two years ago to offer in-depth business workshops, training courses and mentors to over 50s who are unemployed/out of work or at risk of redundancy, plus over 50s who have been trading in business for less than 18 months.
Since May 2012 over 7,800 people have become beneficiaries of PRIME. Some 260 are from Sheffield.
“We have seen lots of great ideas - everything from people wanting to build eco-sensitive houses to a woman who set up a brand of Caribbean baby food - and plenty of success,” says Terry.
More PRIME courses in Sheffield are planned for the autumn and a PRIME Sheffield monthly business club is in the planning stages. Go to www.prime.org.uk for more information.