Posted: Fri 24th Aug 2012
This week on Enterprise Nation, we're launching a new Friday feature. We're calling it 'Independent's Day'*. Why? Because we want to give this space to you, our readers, to feature the positive tips, insights, ideas, opinions and experiences that you'd like to share with other small, independent businesses like yours.
Here's our first Independent's Day contribution, from Enterprise Nation reader and Think Funding founder Chris Shaw.
Let's have more business support for the over-50s
Before anyone accuses me of being ageist, I should tell you that I worked for The Prince's Trust for six years and ran a major programme in the East Midlands promoting enterprise to young people, writes Chris (left). I do understand that supporting young entrepreneurs is critical to the long-term success of the UK economy. However, having recently set up my own consultancy business at the ripe old age (!) of 55, I have 'rediscovered' the lack of targeted support for 'olderpreneurs'.
PRIME (The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise) does a great job, but its geographical coverage is quite limited and projects that seek to target the 50+ start-up market rarely seem to make it to the table when the dash for enterprise cash happens. Â Admittedly, there is generalist start-up support for the 50+ group, but when did we last see a loans programme aimed at this age group like the StartUp Loans for young entrepreneurs? The economic case for helping older people set up a business is compelling, though. Nearly 15,000 people in the UK reach 50 every week andÂ we now have a population in which more than 20 million people are over 50; that's one in three and it's projected to reach 50 per cent by 2020. More often than not, older people have the right skills and mindset to be able to start a business - and statistics suggest that business started by the over-50s have a better chance of survival. In fact, one in five people over the age of 50 is already self employed so there are plenty of great role models. The fact is, over 50s have lots of great ideas but not all will have the business planning skills necessary to convert their ideas into practical businesses. Some will have access to ready start-up funds, but not all, and without practical support and access to finance many ideas will go unrealised. Maybe it's about time the government took another look at how 50+ business could be stimulated?
About Chris Shaw
Chris has been involved in enterprise for more than 20 years, including stints with Leicester City Council and The Prince's Trust. He has been chairman of enterprise agency, Skills for Enterprise, since 2005 and recently set up his own consultancy Think Funding.
Do you agree with Chris?
Should we be giving more business support to the over-50s? Please leave your commentÂ below. Photo credit: Archibald Ballantine
Contribute to Independent's Day
We'd love you to send us your contributions - they don't have to be literary masterpieces or lengthy essays - in fact, the more concise, the better. But they do have to be interesting and relevant to other 'homegrown' business owners. So if you have tips, advice, comments and insights to share, please use the button below to send us your thoughts. Whether it's something you've learned about customer service that you'd like to share, a time-saving tool you've discovered or a great sales technique you employ - if it's useful, pass it on! Likewise, if you'd like to tell us why you started your business and what you get out of it, we'd love to hear from you. We're also happy to carry comment and opinion, provided it's reasonable, well-argued and not just a moan (no political point-scoring please). All we ask is that your contributions are relevant to other small enterprises and not self-promotional - Independent's Day is about sharing, not selling. Oh, and if you try to keep it to around 300 words or less, that will mean we can feature more of your contributions each week! If you need some inspiration, here are some previous contributions we've received from readers that we thought were rather good: