More over 65-year-olds are now in work in Britain than ever before – more than a million – according to the latest official statistics.
Yes, it’s true we are getting older as a population – and not everyone can depend on a lucrative pension pot to see them into their old age. But it’s also fair to say that age is becoming less of a concern for British businesses.
This got me thinking about experienced entrepreneurs. Youthful entrepreneurs and tech whizz kids may grab the headlines, but should we be focusing on the wealth of talent amongst “olderpreneurs”?
Aren’t olderpreneurs just as capable as the younger generation? Is a wise old head any match for youthful exuberance?
Here are five reasons why olderpreneurs can teach those young upstarts a thing or two.
1. Networks really work
What you know is clearly crucial, but who you know can make the real difference between business success and failure.
From client contacts to accessing key skills and hiring – key contacts make the business world go round and can get you from A to B much more quickly that having to spend time making friends and influencing people.
Good olderpreneurs have had the opportunity to build up wide, established and trusted networks over a longer period, and those contacts can prove invaluable. Any entrepreneurs need great people around them to succeed – and if you know a lot of great people you have a real head start.
2. What an experience!
With age comes invaluable experience. And we are not just talking about how to enjoy the good times, but having the experience to deal with the bad times and overcome problems. The myriad issues that have to be overcome with any business (from red tape to employees that make you red with anger) are often overlooked as part of the blind optimism that comes with the flush of youth.
Everybody makes mistakes, but good olderpreneurs have learnt from theirs and are prone to make less of them in the future.
3. A credible story
Entrepreneurs may have a great product or story to tell, but sometimes lack have the credibility or authority to tell it – and so could miss out on those important sales deals.
Olderpreneurs can provide a safe pair of hands, a proven track record and strong recommendations, testimonials and endorsements.
Good plderpreneurs engender real trust and respect.
4. No skills gap
A deep knowledge of a subject, specialism or sector can provide a real competitive advantage for any business.
As a customer or supplier I would want to work with people who have honed their skills over decades rather than do business with a wannabe.
5. A better balancing act
An entrepreneur’s business life is always likely to be something of a roller coaster. But being able to take a deep breath and make a calm, objective and longer-term view can smooth the ride.
Olderpreneurs are likely to have experienced the best and worst managers, colleagues and clients and can take a realistic, practical and balanced view about the day-to-day problems that emerge.
I could go on. More flexibility, more financial security, more streetwise, having gone round the block a few more times.
Now I know what you are going to say. What about the raw passion and energy of the youth of today? Then there is the sheer speed of technological innovation – which is bound to take the breath away of any olderpreneur?
Fair points, but there is a burning passion among a growing number of the older generation to live and learn, to put their skills to good use, to make some money and make the most of what they have got. Having more grey hairs doesn’t mean you have less grey matter.
Oldtimers! Your time has come and it’s never too late to get down to business. The 21st century will see the rise and rise of the olderpreneur.
Andy Yates is an entrepreneur and director of Huddlebuy.co.uk, Europe’s largest business money saving site.
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