The rise of the “boomerpreneur” and “olderpreneur” has finally put paid to that old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.
It used to be unusual for someone in their fifties to set up their own business, but now those in their sixties or older are turning their back on thoughts of retirement – either through desire or necessity – to go into business for themselves.
For some, it’s not just a question of money, but a desire to achieve a long-held ambition to be their own boss.
The pandemic has had an adverse impact on the jobs of younger people and the over fifties. According to the ONS, three in five over fifties left the workforce sooner than anticipated after the pandemic started and it may be this older generation that struggles to return to salaried employment.
Many “olderpreneurs” turn to a franchise operation as a way of becoming their own boss in an area that they don’t have an existing skillset. Others have re-evaluated their lives and want to fit work around their lifestyle and families, rather than the other way around.
At our company, we have franchisees of all ages and backgrounds and there are numerous examples that support the maxim “age is no barrier’ when running a successful franchise operation. Between 2020 and 2025, the government estimates there will be an 8.2 per cent increase in those between 50 and retirement age (1.1 million people) – all well placed to take advantage of this fast-growing marketplace.
‘Being my own boss allows me to structure my working life around my family and not the other way around’
In addition, the ONS reports there are around 1.8m self-employed over fifties in the UK – an increase of 21 per cent since 2008 – which represents the highest figure of any age group.
Anyone unsure about embarking on a new career direction should remember that older people have many transferable skills, which can be used to their advantage.
Years of experience and expertise mean this age group is more likely to succeed, with over 70 per cent of those setting up independent start-ups lasting more than five years, compared with 28 per cent of younger entrepreneurs, according to research by over-50 business starter support charity PRIME.
Many older people come to us with no prior experience of the oven valeting industry, but despite this, their business will have a 99 per cent chance of success when coupled with a tried, tested, and trusted franchise operation.
As we’re an established brand, we provide the training, tools, marketing and networking support which has really paid off for our growing band of people.
Case study: Greg Clark, golf club manager turned franchisee
Greg Clark spent more than 40 years in the hospitality industry, most recently as house manager at a golf club, before setting up his Ovenu franchise in the autumn of 2021.
The pandemic and resulting lockdowns created uncertainties around his previous role and was the impetus he needed to go it alone.
Greg, who is in his sixties, was trained to an ISO standard and benefitted from the induction, which included a range of advice on running a business, from marketing and bookkeeping to pricing and data storage.
He says: “Rather than starting a new business from scratch, and all the risk that incurs, I decided that a strong franchise was the best and most straightforward, option.
“I’d always wanted to be my own boss and Ovenu provided me with the training package, support, and strong brand identity that only an established franchise can offer.
“The ongoing tried and tested support and the strength of the network of franchisees is vital for anyone starting out in business, whatever their age or background. It has given me the blueprint for success.
“Having worked in hospitality for so many years has meant I’ve missed out on many important occasions, but being my own boss allows me to structure my working life around my family and not the other way around.
“I’ve already built a strong customer base and I’m really enjoying the job satisfaction this business brings.”
While it’s a big step to strike out on your own, particularly if you’re used to the stability of a regular salary, our franchises report overwhelmingly positive experiences.
Many of the franchisees are considering expansion by taking on a new sub-contractor, getting an additional liveried van, or even buying a neighbouring franchise.
Age has been no barrier to their success with the most successful having taken completely different career paths until they started their franchise. Franchising has given them the opportunity of a second career, and the chance to become their own boss.
Rik Hellwell is managing director of Ovenu Franchising Ltd