Becoming self-employed at 50+

Becoming self-employed at 50+

In recent weeks the growth in younger entrepreneurs, particularly amongst those aged 18 to 24, has been making headlines – but entrepreneurship is also an option for older workers, particularly in the current job market. The national unemployment rate in the UK is currently at eight percent - less than one in 10. For those aged 50 to 64, around one person in every three is unemployed. Of those employed in this age group, around 20 percent run their own businesses, and these ventures tend to have a better survival rate than those run by younger entrepreneurs. Research has shown that these businesses contribute £24.4 billion to the British economy every year, with an average turnover of £67,500, and that one in six new businesses are started by over-50s.

Many over-50s are now choosing to work for themselves as they want more autonomy, having spent most or all of their careers working for other people, and the thought of the flexibility available to entrepreneurs is an appealing option.


The only national group in the United Kingdom specifically designed to help over-50s – ‘olderpreneurs’ or ‘third-age entrepreneurs’ – The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprises. The aim of this initiative is to help unemployed over-50s back into work via self-employment. They offer free help in the form of start-up packs, which offer advice on owning a business and information on local groups that can assist new ventures.


Whether any specific training is required will depend on the type of business you wish to run. Local councils may offer courses in entrepreneurship or business skills, or higher education institutes may have part-time evening classes available. Age UK offers Digital Inclusion Network training for older people who have no computer skills. If you require more general information, please check our calendar of events for opportunities aimed at training within more specific areas and general business opportunities.


While there appear to be many grant schemes aimed specifically at younger people who wish to to run their own businesses, there are fewer options available only to those over 50. PRIME does offer low-interest loans, but these are personally repayable, regardless of which type of business an individual runs, and are highly competitive. The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts(NESTA) run Age Unlimited, a group aimed at keeping over-50s in work and engaged with their local communities. Age Unlimited Scotland is currently testing alternatives to traditional unpaid employment in Scotland by offering assistance to those with ideas for innovative community services.

Third-age entrepreneurs can always apply for bank loans, or for venture capital, equity finance or angel investment – however, a popular choice for those who have savings and / or good credit is to self-finance as it is generally less risky and lower-cost than other forms of financing, as well as enabling business owners to retain control of their enterprise. See our guide to investing your own money into your business for further details.

Working over 65

The majority of third-age entrepreneurs say that they aim to continue managing their business for as long as they can. However, those working over the age of 65 will be required to pay tax on their State Pension, should they choose to claim it. Those who do not claim their state pension at the age of 65 may be entitled to a higher State Pension or a lump sum payment when they do choose to claim their pension.

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