Why silver-surfers are 2018's leading entrepreneurs
Are you over 55, retired and not living the life you imagined? Kate Bickford, the business mentor, says you're part of the silver-surfer generation which is in the perfect position to build the business you have always dreamed of.
Some over 55’s have not retired themselves but been ‘retired’ through redundancy and simply cannot get another job, so the alternative is to go it alone. This can be daunting but in my view, presents a brilliant opportunity to do something fresh and exciting.
Technology, especially the internet, has made it much easier to build a professional business without massive investment. The over-55s willing to exploit this opportunity also have several key advantages compared to younger entrepreneurs:
Older people typically have greater work/life experience. In business terms, this is critical because they are more likely to have been exposed to a range of business functions, rather than just one area of how a business operates. This gives them an understanding of the 'bigger picture' of running a business and the myriad components that comprise its success.
Younger people starting a business typically have more pressures; primarily children and an existing job/career. Being 'retired' means the over 55s have more time to research and develop their business.
However, there is one key area where the silver-surfer generation may be at a disadvantage.
As already mentioned, technology is critical to entrepreneurship. It would be an unfair generalisation to say that all over-55s lack technical skills, but it's undeniable that the younger generation who have grown up online using newer tools such as social media are at a major advantage compared to those who have arrived later at the party.
It's not just technology that over-55s sometimes struggle with. As mentioned before, the range of skills needed to run a successful business is large, and older people may need to learn missing skills such as basic accountancy and marketing. Fortunately, there are many service providers which will effectively outsource elements such as finance, HR, website design and maintenance for those entrepreneurs without the inclination to learn them.
The other area to consider concerns a vital aspect for any business: finance. If you have a pension pot you could take a lump sum out and start a business. A 2015 study showed over 500,000 over 55s were thinking about using their pension in this way to launch a business.
This is viable but presents a risk. Many businesses do not make their third year, so to risk the money that should see someone through their older years is frightening, because if it goes wrong there is no time to accumulate that pension pot again.
If you are over the age of 55 you can draw all or part of your pension in one lump sum. But beware the tax rules. 25% can be taken out without any tax implications. However, if you exceed 25% that will incur standard rates of income tax, which is not very tax efficient- it effectively becomes an expensive business loan. There are ways to around this but you should talk to an expert. (I recommend Barker & Co).
There, however, is a low-cost and very low-risk option. Consider network marketing. Very low start-up costs (under £200, if they are members of the Direct Selling Association), no risk, proven track record, and ongoing support and training.
There are many network marketing businesses out there, but it's important you find a product or service you love. I would recommend my products even if it wasn’t my business. It’s a bit like a mini-franchise, offering all the support that a new business requires. I found my company (Forever Living) and have been working alongside them for nearly 11 years, and I started it with £200 and absolutely no risk.
Whether you start a traditional business or take advantage of a network marketing business, the opportunity to build the business you always wanted has never been greater.