BEING YOUR OWN BOSS
Do you have what it takes to start your own business? Serial entrepreneur Suzanne Noble may have the answer.
Have you ever been enjoying a relaxed Sunday evening - when the unwelcome thought of work ruins the vibe?
Unless you’re superhuman, the answer will almost certainly be yes. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job that excites and satisfies you , the idea of going to work for someone else can occasionally lose its magic. At moments like this its easy to think - what if I took the plunge and worked for myself?
The trick is knowing whether it’s just a Sunday evening fantasy or if you’re really ready for the challenges and triumphs of starting your own business.
The idea of going it alone is certainly catching on. In the first half of 2021, 340,500 new businesses were registered in the UK, according to analysis of Companies House data. That’s almost 80 an hour - up by almost a third on the same period in 2020.
The vast majority - four out of five- will succeed. It’s thought the pandemic has caused many people to reevaluate their lives and decide to strike out on their own. And it’s not the fabled 24 year old wunderkind in a hoodie starting the majority of businesses. The average age of the entrepreneur in the UK is 40 .And the fastest growing businesses after five years of operation, were founded by people aged around 45.
None of this comes as a surprise to Suzanne Noble -serial entrepreneur, age positive campaigner and all round force of nature.
She’s co-founder of Startup School for Seniors - an 8 week online course grounding the over 50s in the key skills they need to start a business . It’s free to people living in certain parts of the country..
“We find that lots of people at this age , due to circumstances such as caring for either an elderly parent or still looking after children, need some flexibility in their working lives that full-time employment doesn’t provide” she says.
“We meet so many people who’ve had great ideas that have been sitting around for a decade, sometimes. They are just afraid or don’t know how to take the first steps - and that’s why we started Startup School.”
Many course members bring their life experiences or private passions to the fore when venturing out on their own.
Despite all the statistics to the contrary, the myth of the all conquering millennial entrepreneur still clings on - and that has consequences. “There’s very little support for older business owners” according to Suzanne.
“Typically if you go to a networking event it’s full of people in their 20s or early 30s who seem genuinely surprised when they encounter anyone who’s the age of their parents.“
The consequences of this age bias can extend beyond the social, says Suzanne.
“It’s almost impossible [ to raise investment ] if you’re over 50 unless you’ve got a track record of being incredibly successful - for instance if there’s a tech business you’ve already started and exited from.”
She says things can get personal when looking for investment as an older founder.
“One venture capitalist asked me ‘what’s your succession plan’ assuming I wasn’t going to be able to remain in that role for very long because I’m sixty and surely must already be thinking of how I’m going to retire.”
There are signs of positive change ,though.
“I think we are starting to see people realise the amount of value that’s being created in businesses targeting older people” says Suzanne. "People over 50 have money to spend and they’re looking for products and services on which to spend it. The more you can demonstrate the numbers are big enough to justify the investment, the more you can start seeing money flowing into products and services addressing this market.” Things are already easier for 50 somethings entering the not-for-profit sector.
“Generally, what funders are looking for are people who genuinely understanding the problem being solved. And there’s no better person than someone who’s of the appropriate age, dealing with an age group they’re incredibly familiar with.”
So does being your own boss appeal to you?
Here are Suzanne’s tips if you’re thinking of starting your own business.
Make sure you are solving a genuine problem or need.
Be clear that people are willing to pay for that problem or need to be satisfied.
Research potential sources of funding
Consider doing research while you’re still employed
Think of starting the business as a side-hustle.
Be prepared to be flexible - change course if your research dictates it.
Make sure you plans fit in with your caring duties.
You can apply to join Startup School for Seniors here www.StartupSchoolforSeniors.com