According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, 8.6 million people are currently not working – around one in five working adults. More than 3.4 million of them are over 50 but below retirement age.
But rather than go back to work, a growing number of over-50s are starting up their own businesses, according to the Startup School for Seniors, the UK-based social enterprise offering an online eLearning programme fully sponsored for UK residents aged 50+.
10 examples, ranging from a 73-year old condiment maker in Ealing and a 64-year old jeweller in Chiswick to a 56-year old record shop owner in Staffordshire and a playwriting tutor in Hastings, can be seen below.
1. Harbinder Sodhi Age: 73 Business: Bavi’s Condiments Location: Ealing, London
Harbinder’s story is a spicy twist on retirement. When life veered off her planned path due to COVID-19, she embarked on a flavourful adventure. Inspired by her son’s simple request for something spicy, she turned her culinary experimentation into Bavi’s Condiments. Harbinder’s condiments are now delighting taste buds and challenging the conventional notion of retirement.
- Alison Crossick Age: 64 Occupation: Jeweller Location: Chiswick
Alison’s journey is a testament to the power of reinvention. Formerly an educational psychologist, she transformed her life by diving into the world of jewellery-making. Now, her exquisite creations grace the stalls of the Duckpond Market in Chiswick. The Start-Up for Seniors course ignited her courage and taught her that waiting for the perfect moment isn’t necessary; seizing the moment is what matters.
- Charlotte Carty Age: 53 Occupation: English tutor for business professionals Location: Milborne Port, Somerset
Charlotte’s journey from a corporate legal career to an empowered entrepreneur is awe-inspiring. Thanks to the Startup School for Seniors, she stepped out of her comfort zone to launch her own business as an English tutor. Leaving behind the world of law, she now imparts language skills to business professionals. Charlotte’s transformation is fueled by gratitude for the course, her self-employment journey, and the community that made her aspirations achievable.
- Max Wallace Age: 58 Occupation: Boxing Instructor, Founder of Health Defence Location: Hammersmith, London
Max’s journey is a tale of resilience and transformation. From facing redundancy and personal struggles, he emerged as a beacon of holistic health. Max’s boxing gym and health food store, Health Defence, are a testament to his commitment to physical, nutritional, and spiritual well-being. His story echoes his desire to create a hub where people find strength, health and community.
- Anna Harris Age: 56 Business: Record Shop Location: Rugeley, Staffordshire
Anna’s story is one of partnership and shared dreams. Collaborating with her husband, she embarked on a journey to bring the magic of music to their community through a record shop. With determination and a vision for growth, Anna and her husband work side by side to build a business that resonates with their passion for music and connection.
- Laura McClusky Age: 64 Occupation: Playwriting Workshop Host Location: Hastings
Laura’s path is one of artistic reinvention and empowerment. Following redundancy from a theatre company, she found her calling in nurturing aspiring playwrights. Laura is kindling the flames of creativity through online and offline scriptwriting courses. Her story is a reminder that even after setbacks, new beginnings can lead to unexpected and fulfilling journeys.
- Rita Gilbert Age: 65 Occupation: Founder ILookGoodApp Location: Ealing
Rita’s story encapsulates the spirit of resilience and innovation. Transitioning from a career in the arts to motherhood, she embraced self-employment as her route back to financial independence. Amidst the challenges of a pandemic, Rita co-founded ILookGoodApp and took the Startup School for Seniors course, fostering her creative ideas into structured possibilities. Rita’s journey is a testament to the power of adaptability and the pursuit of dreams.
- Nejat Aksoy: Age: 61 Occupation: Software developer Location: Hammersmith & Fulham
Nejat Aksoy’s remarkable journey spans continents and sectors, from a prolific IT career to crafting customised software solutions for Middle Eastern restaurants in London. Relocating from Istanbul to the UK, Nejat encountered unexpected hurdles — Covid, cultural disparities, and age bias — while seeking clients.
By tailoring solutions to individual and small businesses, Nejat honed his products and services, opening new doors. His ventures, like Turkish Food In London and Tastes of London, reflect his resilient spirit, bridging technology and diverse culinary experiences in the vibrant tapestry of London’s food scene.
- Steve Anyiwo – Age: 52, Owner Datsit Skincare Location: Sutton
Meet Steve, a multifaceted entrepreneur who has seamlessly merged his passion for design with his dedication to skincare. Balancing a part-time role as a graphic designer, Steve has embarked on an inspiring venture — creating his skincare brand, Datsit. Fuelled by the quest for natural solutions to support individuals with skin conditions, he crafts each product at home using meticulously selected, all-natural ingredients.
Drawing from his design background, Steve has created pleasing packaging that harmoniously mirrors the purity of his creations. The resounding applause from customers is a testament to his success. With the horizon brimming with promise, Steve aspires to transition full-time into his skincare business.
- Anne Gould – Age: 65 Owner: Master the Digital Maze Location: Bury St. Edmunds
Anne’s narrative is one of transformation and empowerment. With four decades devoted to journalism, she has seamlessly transitioned her expertise into teaching mid-lifers the art of self-promotion and business marketing on contemporary platforms like TikTok.
As a Digital Content Trainer and Video Strategist, she imparts the essential skills of crafting engaging content for the digital realm. Anne’s journey embodies a fusion of journalism’s storytelling prowess and the dynamism of modern platforms, equipping entrepreneurs and communication teams with the tools to captivate online audiences and elevate their online presence.
Suzanne Noble, Founder of Startup School for Seniors, said, “These 10 examples offer an insight into the creative potential among the over-50s and their ability to shape their own destiny.
“Since the pandemic, we have seen increasing numbers of over-50s come to us as they look for support with an alternative career plan. Economic inactivity is not a choice for many older workers: they struggle to find a mainstream role that fits with other commitments in midlife, such as caring responsibilities.
“For a growing number of people aged 50 plus, self-employment is one way out and one of the best ways to ensure their work fits their lifestyle.
‘”The Startup School is a GLA-funded, eight-week, flexible learning online programme that supports people with an idea to turn it into a business — from helping you write a business plan to discovering your ideal customers to providing ideas on how to market yourself.
“It’s a much-needed helping hand for older workers as they set out independently for the first or second time.”