Starting a business at 50: networking with Nicola Horlick
October 4, 2012 | By:
Through the PRIME initiative, Prince Charles is encouraging our generation into 'olderpreneurship' (with a little help from 'Superwoman'). Sheila Prophet went to a contenders' convention. Plus: exclusive high50 video interview with Nicola Horlick



Nicola Horlick: "Business plans are always a work of fiction"

Almost 50,000 people over 50 start their own businesses every year, according to figures from PRIME, the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise.

Last week, on September 26, around 100 of them crowded into a room at the Empire Casino in Leicester Square to hear an inspirational talk from Nicola Horlick – herself a high50 businesswoman – and to swap ideas and experiences. We recorded this exclusive video interview about ‘olderpreneurs’ with the City Superwoman herself. (You’ll need to be registered and logged to watch it.)

Judging by the excited buzz within the room, mature entrepreneurs have an endless range of ideas, with ventures ranging from video production and digital marketing to more traditional areas such as craftware manufacturing, translation services and a specialist bakery.

The people at the free event had many reasons for becoming their own bosses. Some have been through redundancy or retired early. Others are looking for new challenges, new ways to use their skills or simply wish to escape the daily grind and achieve a better life work/life balance.

The networkers ranged from newcomers taking their first tentative steps towards starting on their own to successful business people keen to help others by supporting and mentoring them.

Letters to Prince Charles

Mentoring is one of the services provided to entrepreneurs by PRIME, which was set up 13 years ago by Prince Charles in response to the many letters he was receiving from people over 50 who were desperate for work but were being rejected by employers because of their age.

Nicola Horlick is also a strong believer in the value of mentoring, so much so that she is finding time in her frantic schedule to volunteer as a mentor.

She told the audience that entrepreneurs, including herself, often have ten ideas at once, and mentors can provide guidance and help them to focus on the best of those ideas.

She also talked about her own amazing career as a fund manager,  including her years as MD of part of investment bank Morgan Grenfell, whose assets rose from £4 billion to £22.5 billion.

She had practical advice for entrepreneurs, telling them they must learn about IT and finances, and have a sound business plan. She added, though: “Business plans are always a work of fiction, because things never work out the way you think they will.”

At 51, mother of six Nicola is still branching out and taking on new challenges, including film production and a restaurant called Georgina’s, launched in memory of her daughter, who died of leukaemia. She had two words for others taking the same path: “Be brave!”

Preparing to run your own business

The networking evening included an awards ceremony, with certificates handed out to a bunch of budding entrepreneurs who recently completed PRIME’s Preparing to Run Your Own Business Course.

This free course is available at locations around the country and takes place over six to seven weeks, with three training days followed by coursework covering subjects such as researching your market and thinking about money.

Those who complete it successfully will receive a Level 2 QCF certificate, accredited by the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative.

Find out more about these courses and other assistance on offer from the Prince’s Initiative. You can also register for the next free networking events (in Manchester on  January 10 and Leeds on January 24).

See the video: Nicola Horlick on starting a business at 50-plus

Further reading

Entrepreneurs? We’re olderpreneurs

Business start-up: 50 is the right time

Jobs for over-50s: where to find them

Local radio: how to start your own station

Counting sheep: a blog on launching a business in your fifties