Autumnaged Care

How ‘oldpreneurs’ are fighting ageism one business at a time

Autumnaged Care

How ‘oldpreneurs’ are fighting ageism one business at a time

The stigma of old age has long held a restraining force over the world’s seniors.

Going even further than a dismissive hand, much of Western society and thought has set the tone that when it comes to the new, when it comes to the progressive and successful, it is the domain of the young and hungry.

When the magazines run a spread on the up and coming entrepreneurs to watch, a slew of young dapper men will commonly grace the pages.

Yet in spite of the tone laid down by a large portion of the business world, there is a growing trend of female ‘silver startups’, leveraging what’s now being labeled the age advantage.

 

Going For It

 

Jane Kellock pitched her idea for a new start up to her then boss and an investor.

Coming away from their lackluster response she recalls, “I came away from the meeting thinking ‘screw you, I can do this myself.’”

Kellock started her business at 51. Five years on she has five in-house employees and a happy army of freelancers, ever more growing as her business develops and progresses.

Kellock is just one of the success stories within the largely overlooked demographic of over 50s rolling up their sleeves and starting new businesses.

And the numbers don’t lie, in the U.K. one in six startups are commenced by someone in their 50s or over and their success rates are impressive.

Not only are their hits rates something to be admired but their level of success is around the 70% mark for making it through the first five years while the rate for younger entrepreneurs is around 28%.

Dubbed the ‘olderpreneurs’ this group of over 50s is only showing signs of growing and unapologetically becoming movers and shakers.

 

Women Are Taking Strides

 

Excitingly, the trend of olderpreneurs is also showing that increasingly women are starting to take the leap in starting new businesses.

Lynne Cadenhead, chairman of Women’s Enterprise Scotland acknowledges the stats, “We’re seeing a lot of women who are starting up businesses in their mid-40s to early-50s,”

“It is a genuine trend.”

 

Empty Nest Is A Free Nest

 

When asked about how they as female entrepreneurs felt towards the funding gap between genders for startups, those whose children had left home felt that it applied to them the least, a percentage of 25.

Even those without children felt it applied more at around 35%.

Experts think that perhaps once children leave the home, many women feel a keen sense of freedom in the hours they can work and the pursuits they can passionately engage in.

Kellock says, “Now my children have left home all my energy can be diverted to working. I feel I can work 14-hour days now and don’t feel guilty anymore. I’ve also got an amazing amount of contacts and am very well connected, and I’ve [built up] the knowledge [during my career].”

 

Age Is No Barrier

 

Cherryl Harker set up ZwimZuit at 76 and felt that the time was right for her.

“It seemed like the perfect time: I married when I was 30, then spent my 30s and 40s focused on family life, supporting my husband, John, in his business and raising our daughter, Tamarisk.

I’d battled breast cancer in my 50s, cervical cancer in my 60s, so now I finally had time to do something that was just for me. I don’t see my age as a barrier.”

Much of the trend in women starting businesses later in life may be attributed to the skills and challenges they have faced and overcome earlier in life.

Not only has the right time arrived for them but many say that having juggled, coordinated and navigated, the oftentimes hectic circumstances of work, child-rearing and supporting a spouse, they feel confidently experienced to take on the challenge of a new business.

Cadenhead expresses that “Women bring a different life experience to business,”

“[They] always have multiple roles in society: they’ll be wives, carers, mothers. They’re much more used to [juggling things] and more comfortable doing it.”

Kirsten Lord has set up businesses in her 20s and 40s and says, “It’s not just experience in the industry but life experience that gives [women] a lot of confidence in themselves to work a business as they get a bit older.”

 

Age As Advantage

 

It has never been more important for the truth of age as an advantage to be powerfully discussed on a national dialogue.

The seniors among us have lead mesmerizingly interesting lives, it is not only morally wrong to ignore the merits of seniors but also a handicap to the young.

Many cultures around the world have championed the vital importance of mentorship and the transfer of experiential knowledge to new generations.

The opportunity to learn from our seniors has never been more necessary in a world that is in dire need of wisdom, insight and compassion.

The desire to contribute, create and accomplish is not limited by age.

It is in seeing the whole person, regardless of age, that society may benefit from businesses of integrity and intelligence, entrepreneurs of wisdom and depth.

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