Is age a barrier to business?
Is there a right age to start a business? The simple answer is no. But whilst the media are keen to highlight youngsters who have set the world alight with their new business start-ups in their teens and twenties, it’s reassuring to know that the average age of a U.K. entrepreneur currently stands at 47.
I set up Footprint Social Media when I was in my mid 50’s, quite late you may say, but I would disagree. It’s never too late to start something new. However, whilst I may have felt like a mature, pioneering business owner, the reasons behind it were two-fold. It was the ever-increasing state pension age that prompted the change, that and an unhelpful previous boss who helped to facilitate the decision.
Obviously thanks to the former, I now need to work a little longer – until I am 66 in fact. But starting my own business has allowed me to take back control, enjoy a better work/life balance and utilise my knowledge and experience in the best way that I could.
7 years later and I don’t regret a thing. I enjoy what I do, regularly get to meet brilliant fellow business owners, and work with people from many different generations. And whilst social media is an industry that welcomes people of all ages, some industries are not so accommodating.
Although age discrimination is illegal, there are still organisations out there where older workers are not actively encouraged. I have heard of some trendy businesses (I will not name and shame them) who do not want to employ anyone over 50 because they believe, wrongly of course, that they will damage their brand. Forget the preservation of their young and hip image here, I think they are missing out in much more important ways.
Experience and wisdom
Let’s face it older people tend to have more experience, knowledge, and skills. They are also loyal, punctual, responsible, and have a good work ethic. Most of them have learned valuable business lessons along the way, are reliable, less flaky, more financially stable, and have a clearer vision of what they want to achieve and why, than their more youthful counterparts. Plus, they tend to have an affinity with younger people and can easily relate to Generation Z employees.
So, with people living longer, generally in better health and wanting to keep active, combined with more people in the 50+ age group amongst the UK population and rising retirement ages, it’s no wonder that older workers now make up a third of the UK workforce. If you run a business and are looking to recruit, or are thinking of setting up your own business, then remember, age is only a number.
What every organisation needs to harness is a healthy mix of people of all ages. This is turn creates a balanced workforce where you can maximise the expertise of older workers to help younger members of the team. After all, who better to help staff learn from mistakes and make them aware of any pitfalls, than those who have trodden that well-worn path previously?
So, for a happier, more successful, and balanced business, isn’t it time that you reaped the benefits of being age-friendly and age tolerant? Because let’s face it, one day, we will all be old!