Twitter chat 26 May 2016: Self-employment for the over 50’s – share your experiences and get advice

The RSA commissioned Populus to run a survey, ‘Salvation in a Start-Up? The Origins and Nature of the Self-Employment Boom‘ – Benedict Dellot May 2014, of 1,006 microbusiness owners between 26 February and the 12 March 2014 which revealed that less than one in five people started their own business because they had no other employment options – the overwhelming majority did so because they wanted to.

This survey data also shows that these individuals were right to trust their instincts, with around 85% of micro-business owners reporting that they are now more creative, autonomous and satisfied in their work.

The number of people running microbusinesses is growing substantially and two of the main groups to do so are women and the over 50’s. There has also been an increase in the part-time self-employed.

The survey found that of people becoming self-employed since 2008, only 27% did so to escape unemployment.

The benefits of being self-employed that emerge from the report are that:

  • 84 percent agree that being self-employed means they are more satisfied in their working lives (66 percent completely or strongly agree)
  • 82 percent agree that the work they do is more meaningful to them, and 87 percent that they have more freedom to do the things they want at work
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) think that working for themselves is important for being able to live where they would like; 54 percent for working around their own physical health conditions; and 37 percent for being able to care for older relatives
  • Over three quarters (79 percent) look for freedom and flexibility most in their personal work; half (54 percent) for the chance to use their talents to the full; and 44 percent for meaningful work
    • Other benefits are in having the satisfaction of being responsible for your own success and promoting your own ideas rather than those of others
    • By going part time to begin with, you can dip your toe in the water before making a full commitment and
    • Supplement your income.

At the moment there isn’t a central point where individuals can go for support and advice. Examples of organisations where advice can be found are:

England – Growth Hubs

Scotland – Business Gateway

Wales – Business Wales

Northern Ireland – NI Business Info

The list below isn’t exhaustive but it gives some idea of the range on offer:

New Enterprise Allowance can provide money and support if you receive Job Seeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Universal Credit

UNLtd provides support to social entrepreneurs in the UK

Important things to consider can be found at

Providing practical help to people age 50 and over in Wales

Providing support and guidance to people over 50 and women wanting to set up and run their own businesses

Check credentials and experience of the support professional you engage with

Anyone who is thinking about starting or already running their own business can go to

A Suffolk-based community interest organisation offering workshops for over 50s

Self-employed ‘Check List’

Tools to help you start your own business

Information on start-up

Support organisations for the enterprise sector

Guide to starting business

Range of information including start-up funding and business management advise

UK’s leading independent, online resource for anyone starting and growing a business

Range of information about starting up a business, including tax and pensions

Specialists in working with jobseekers who want to be self-employed

Useful information on business and self-employed i.e. setting and growing your business

Useful introductory guides


It’s very important that you promote yourself once you are self-employed. Some of the ways you can do this are by:

  • Having a positive attitude, knowing what you want and believing in yourself
  • Reviewing your image, increasing your visibility, being enthusiastic
  • Capitalising on your strengths and making them work for you
  • Networking as much as possible and seizing opportunities as they arise
  • Using social media i.e. Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin
  • Being clear about your market and what you are selling and your brand
  • Keeping up to date with market trends. Fashions change, be ahead of your market
  • Being clear about the benefits you bring to your customers i.e. what’s in for them and how you can help them

Margaret Wood & Quentin Ross-Smith – Co-Founders The Opportunity Group

Twitter @opportunity50


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