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One of our regular contributors, Dennis de Winter, calls out ageism in the workplace.

A friend of mine, who works at an advertising agency, was telling me about a random visit they had from a procurement consultant recently. As part of the visit a comment was made that people at the agency were ‘too old'. It was an interesting comment for a number of reasons, not least because of its ageist nature.

In fact the agency was launched when the founders were all in their late 30’s or older although it now employs a good number of people under 30. But what does that comment say about attitudes to businesses owned and managed by people over 50? Let's face it, some of the most recognisable brands were started by people who were 50 or older and some are now household names such as McDonald's and KFC, which were both founded by people in their middle years


Closer to home, research from Age Concern indicates that the number of people aged 65 who are self employed or have started a business has more than doubled in the past five years. Why? There are several reasons. For many it’s simply the desire to get away from the company culture and build something for themselves, maybe turning a passion into a business. More generally folk over 50 will tend to have experienced the ups and downs of life and have developed the insight and resilience needed to run a business. They’re likely to have had practical experience working in a business environment, be risk - aware and have probably developed a good blend of useful contacts.

They may also have some capital to start with and skin in the game is always an attractive feature if you want to raise additional capital further down the line.

As Chris Jones, director of sales and marketing at City Lit, said: “You’re never too young, or too old to start your own business. In fact, retirement may give the older generation a head start due to having more time, experience and perhaps capital to get started.’’(Source IOEE 12.1.20)

So maybe the popular image of business innovators as young, thrusting execs willing to take massive risks (often with other people’s money) doesn’t tell the whole story

But are older entrepreneurs more successful? According to some recent research a 60-year-old who starts a new business is three times more likely to succeed than a 30-year-old peer.

Source "Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review: Insights.9 Sept 2022.’’

Age is no barrier to starting and growing a successful business. So long as you’ve got the idea, the brand, the plan, the attitude and the energy............ then you’re away.

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