2024 is set to see a boom in silver start-ups, with increasing numbers of over 55s looking to set up their own business, according to new research* from Virgin StartUp.
Of 2,000 UK adults, an impressive third (32%) of Brits aged 55+ want to start a business, with nearly a quarter (23%) having already set up or taken steps towards starting their own business in the past year.
Of the third of Brits aged 55+ wanting to start their own business, over two thirds (66%) of those are undecided about when to take the leap, but are still inspired to start. A fifth (21%) of over 55s said they are willing to switch financial security for a more fulfilled life.
39% of 55+ year olds said that ‘being their own boss’ was the reason they wanted to go it alone – the highest of any age group. Across all age groups, the top three reasons to start a business were ‘being my own boss’ (33%), ‘earning more money’ (27%) and ‘having more control of my time’ (25%).
Virgin StartUp, Virgin’s not-for-profit hub for early-stage business founders, has distributed £75 million in Start Up Loans to more than 5,500 UK founders in the past 10 years and saw a 10% increase in Start Up Loan applications from founders over the age of 50 in 2023. The business incubator is predicting an even better year for silver start-ups in 2024.
Moshin Ravjani, aged 55, is one of the founders who received a Start Up Loan through Virgin StartUp to expand his social enterprise, ChangeAhead, and explains why the wisdom that comes with age has been a great advantage.
Moshin Ravjani said, “Leveraging a lifetime of accumulated skills and a rich network of connections, starting a business in my later years has proven to be a perfect blend of passion and seasoned expertise.”
While older generations have traditionally been overlooked when it comes to starting new business ventures, 38% of those surveyed thought that with age comes greater experience which is a huge benefit to starting a new career or business. More than a third of those aged 55+ (36%) believe being older when starting a business means they have a better understanding of their skills and what they enjoy, while a third mentioned that they have built a good network to support them.
Nearly half (45%) of those 55+ said they only now feel confident enough to set up a business and an additional 40% feel they have the experience to branch out on their own, compared with 30% of 18–34-year-olds surveyed. Only 16% of over 55s said self-doubt might put them off starting their business venture.
When it comes to the industries most appealing to the over 55s surveyed, creative arts and design, selling handmade goods, the pet industry, and working in food and drink are the most likely that they would want to set-up this year.
Andy Fishburn, Managing Director from Virgin StartUp, said: “You really are never too old to try something new and start your own business. As the working population continues to get older, it’s natural that this generation is starting to look at how it can make the most of the next chapter of their career.
“There’s often the misconception that young age brings with it a fearlessness to try something new, but with the right idea, passion, and determination, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Skills are learnt through trial and error, but with age comes experience.
“We saw an increase in older founders taking out a Start Up Loan to fund their business ideas last year and we expect this to continue into 2024. Start Up Loans are often easier to secure and come with more support and lower interest rates than other funding methods, so this may be one reason why they’re growing in popularity among the over 55s.”
When it comes to exploring new business ventures, January is the most popular time of year among Brits to start thinking about setting up a new business. The new year is a time for reflection and intention-setting, which is why this year Virgin StartUp has dubbed 12 January ‘Founder Friday’ – the day when there will be a surge of budding British entrepreneurs looking to begin their start-up journey.
This follows data from the British Business Bank which recorded a 16% increase in Start Up Loan applications in the first month of 2023, with another bumper January expected this year. Virgin StartUp is running a Founder Friday hotline, a free business support line for anyone taking those first steps towards running their own business. Budding business founders can book a 30-minute slot with an experienced business advisor to explore their business ideas and kick-start their new venture.