Encouraging Over-50s back into the workforce through entrepreneurship

People aged 50 and older are an important segment of the UK’s workforce

Encouraging Over-50s back into the workforce

People aged 50 and older are an important segment of the UK’s workforce. Their huge wealth of knowledge and experience is invaluable to the UK economy, which is one of the reasons why this demographic is being encouraged and supported to remain working, rather than retire early. 

At Start Up Loans, we want to support people of any age interested in becoming their own boss. That includes those over the age of 50, who might have decided it’s time to convert their experience into founding a business.

During the pandemic many people facing redundancy or furlough took early retirement, but a large number of those same workers are now looking to re-enter the workforce. One of the ways they are choosing to do this is through setting up their own business. 

We can see indications of this trend in our own data, with almost half of the Start Up Loans provided to over 50s since the programme’s inception being delivered since the first Covid-19 lockdown. During this period the average loan value per business has risen to £13,707, an increase of over £2,600 in comparison to the four-year period prior to the pandemic. 

Like many other nations, the UK is facing skill and labour shortages, yet we have a huge wealth of untapped potential in those over 50 that have retired early. By encouraging people back into the workforce, we can harness crucial skills and expertise, and unlocking that expertise and experience could provide a significant economic boost.

At a time when we are seeking economic stimulus, it is even more important that we tap into this well of resource and expertise. In fact, Harvard Business Review found that older entrepreneurs aged between 50 and 60 have the highest chance of success in comparison to any of their younger peers1

Additionally, experienced employers and mentors are able to transfer knowledge and business skills to staff and others from younger generations. Entrepreneurship is a crucial way to achieve this, as well as creating jobs and driving innovation.

At Start Up Loans, we are here to provide the necessary support. 

Paul Waterhouse, 51 used a loan of £18,500 to set up Norfolk Mantiques and Collectibles. His business sells military and pub collectibles and paraphernalia that he has collected over the years. Paul used the loan to buy stock, shelving and storage, and to fund advertising when he first opened the shop. 

Paul said: “After 17 years working at Sky, I was made redundant, and I found myself at a crossroads. I decided it was time to follow my true dream in life which was to own my own business. I’ve always been passionate about all things military and breweriana – there’s so much interesting history to uncover. The loan really helped me get off the ground, and I haven’t looked back since I opened.”

Eduardo Barreto, used a £10,000 loan to set up his production company, Boy Next Door Productions, and he commented: “It wasn’t only the loan that was important to me, – Start Up Loans introduced me to Giuseppe, my business mentor and my rock. I wouldn’t have succeeded in my application without him, so I am eternally grateful.”

Alison McAtamney from Northern Ireland used a loan to set up Cleland Renwick Ltd, an image consultancy for men and said: “The British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans, delivered via their partner Enterprise Northern Ireland, caught my eye due to the 6% interest rate and I have been very impressed. There are steps along the way to launching a new business which can fill you with nerves, but I have felt supported by the Bank and its partner at every step of the way.”

Like all ages, this demographic can at times face difficulties when applying for loans, especially when loan providers are operating in challenging economic conditions. Start Up Loans are pleased to have supported nearly 13,500 loans to the over-50s, with a value of £140m, since our inception in 2012.

The key to nurturing a strong economy is to unlock potential everywhere and amongst everyone with the drive to work or set up a business. If you are considering pursuing a career change in your fifties or later, take inspiration from Paul, Eduardo and Alison and apply for a Start Up Loan at https://apply.startuploans.co.uk/s/register, or find out more by reading our free Finding funding as an older entrepreneur guide. 

1 Harvard Business Review – “Research: The Average Age of a Successful Startup Founder Is 45” 

Richard Bearman
Richard Bearman

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