How to start a business at 50-plus

How to start a business at 50-plus

Start-up companies aren't just the preserve of the young. In fact, almost 10 per cent of those setting up a business last year were aged 50-plus, according to research by Start Up Loans.

Almost a fifth of the over-50s they surveyed were primarily interested in retail trade, with online mail order and fashion businesses being the most popular types in this sector.

Elsa Caleb, a business advisor from Start Up Loans has put together few tips to get you started:

Writing a business plan

It's easy to get overwhelmed when working on your new business idea. The best way to get organised is to put all of your ideas down on paper in the form of a business plan.

The business plan will make your idea completely clear and define any long-term objectives, making it easier to keep focused towards the end goal and avoid getting sidelined with smaller tasks.

A business plan is vital at the point of securing funding as well as getting suppliers and customers on board. 

A business plan template is a great way to get started and can help you work out what needs to be included in each section. You can download a template here.

Cash-flow forecasting

Creating a cash-flow forecast is the best way to prove that you can manage business costs. It is something that will be looked at closely by lenders when you are applying for funding.

At this stage, the cash-flow forecast should be realistic and factor in both fixed and variable costs as well as plan for any seasonality in the sector you're looking to work in.

It's important to get used to working with cash flows, as it's something that will be an ongoing task as the business develops.

Who can help?

There are many websites and organisations that can offer tips and advice in the sector that you are interested in. There are over 500 government-backed schemes listed here, so make sure you choose the correct one.

When seeking start-up funding, make sure you look for a scheme specialising in start-up businesses, as some schemes only offer help to pre-start or growth services for existing businesses. Some schemes are limited to certain regions, but there are plenty national ones too.

Where to go for advice and inspiration

  • If you're looking for advice and inspiration, the Guardian Small Business Network is a great place to start
  • If you prefer workshops and one-to-one sessions where you can ask any questions related to starting a business visit the British Library Business and Intellectual Property Centre, this could be a great way to begin networking and making connections with other small businesses
  • Do consider attending business start-up events, joining online webinars and regularly reading websites such as Start Up Donut for more insight. 

The best types of businesses that work for retirees

When deciding what market you are going to enter, do consider businesses that have little financial outlay. For example, consultancy is less risky and doesn't have a huge initial financial outlay and therefore, will produce minimal stress while setting up.

Start-up loan funding, what's out there?

There are different types of finance available for over 55s looking to start up a business:

  • Options range from personal bank loans to funding from a government-backed plan
  • Another option is to invest any accessible savings or pension pot in the business. As with any funding option, it's imperative that the business plan and cash-flow forecast is completed well in advance
  • Crowd funding is another a great business funding option. It's a way to raise money, awareness and support for a project, from the public. Find more information on the crowd-funding process from sites such as Crowdfunder or Funding Tree
  • It's worth looking into all of your options as well as contacting specialist companies offering business mentoring to help you through the process.

Use connections made in full-time employment

If you're still working full time, it's worth maintaining those strong network connections. If you feel as though you have a gap in your business plan, think about how your current connections can bridge the gap.

Online mediums such as blogs and social media can be the perfect way to connect with the people that are hard to catch at networking events.

  • There are more money-saving tips in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.