January 26th, 2016
Can you ever be too young or too old to start your own business? What is the ideal age to take the plunge, move into startup office space and set up on your own? The stereotype perhaps tends to be of a young and trendy entrepreneur, but in fact business startups cover the whole age range.
One recent survey has shown that the 40s are the average age to start a business, and this age group has clear advantages in terms of experience. However, small business owners range from teenagers right through to people in their 50s, 60s and older who have retired from other jobs and are looking for a new challenge.
Teens and Twenties
There is a growing trend for youngsters to set up their own businesses straight after university or even while still at school. Advantages include the fact that this age group is young and enthusiastic with plenty of energy, as well as digital expertise and know-how. Younger entrepreneurs have grown up using computers and mobile phones and find it easy to master the latest apps and software.
Many new graduates decide to set up on their own not just if they can’t get the sort of job they want, but because they are making a positive decision to work for themselves. There are special schemes available to help younger people set up businesses, such as the Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme, which offers low-interest loans and sometimes grants to budding entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 30. You also have to be at least 18 to apply for a Government Start Up Loan.
Thirty and Forty-Somethings
A recent survey of entrepreneurs in the UK found that the average age for men to set up their own business was 46, while women were slightly older at 48. However, many wished they had taken the plunge earlier, and the 30s are also a popular age to do this.
Being in mid-career when you start your business is likely to mean you have years of experience behind you and have built up some capital, but you still have plenty of time to develop new skills. Another advantage for this age group is that investors may often prefer to give backing to people who have a proven track record.
If you are bringing up a family or have caring responsibilities, having your own business can also give you the flexibility to work around other commitments, although in practice it may not always be easy to fit everything in. Also, having family commitments can make it harder to give up the security of working for a larger company or institution.
Fifties, Sixties and Older
Older people often worry they have missed the boat to start up their own business. But in fact there are many opportunities to do so at this age and an estimated 40 per cent of self-employed people are over 50. Although it is mainly known for its work with the younger generation, the Prince’s Trust has now set up an initiative to help over-50s start up small businesses because of the high demand.
If you have been made redundant at this age or have retired from your previous position but still want to work, there can be difficulties in getting a new job. This means creating your own may prove an exciting alternative. Older entrepreneurs, of course, also have all the advantages of maturity, experience and contacts built up over decades in the workplace.
Overall, it seems that the right age for setting up an SME depends on the individual and the type of venture – but the message from small business experts is not to worry that you are too young or too old. As the recovery continues, surveys have suggested this is a good time to start up a business in the UK. Last year saw more than 580,000 small businesses being set up nationally, a record number, and Startup Britain is predicting the figure for 2015 will be still higher at 600,000.
Whatever age you are when you set up on your own, you will need mentoring and advice when you start up and may need to find startup office space. Basepoint Business Centres have many advantages for startups, offering serviced offices on easy and flexible terms. As a licensee within the centre, you can also take advantage of Basepoint’s own mentoring system, MiBase, offering access to experienced entrepreneurs for help and advice.
If you decide to start your business from home and use a virtual office provider, Basepoint offers a range of packages to suit your needs, and you can move into the centre if this is right for you later. Get in touch for details of our startup office space and virtual office packages in areas including Canterbury, Ipswich and Luton.