Why starting a business at 50 can be good for your health
If your work is fulfilling and you are passionate about it, you are more likely to stay mentally fit and healthy
January 29, 2014 | By:
There are many reasons why your fifties are the ideal time to set up your own business. Not least, says Dr Lynda Shaw, because it may keep you healthy in mind and body
Start a business_holistic health

Creating your own business can be the best prescription for your health and a new lease of life

A wave of new UK businesses is being set up by people over 50, who have faced the difficulties of finding a new job after redundancy and covert ageism.

Out of the 11 million Britons aged between 50 and 64, around a third are economically inactive, according to research from over-50s-business support charity Prime. Many face the added pressures of paying the mortgage, saving for retirement and looking after families, which could include children still living at home, elderly parents, or both.

But on the flip side, nearly half the self-employed population is over 50, and one in six new businesses started in the UK are set up by post-semi-centenarians. Such enterprises have a 70 per cent chance of surviving their first five years, compared with only 28 per cent for the under-50s.


Changing jobs in our fifties is the ideal time because we naturally reinvent ourselves as we mature. We are in a prime position to try something different, such as the job we always wanted to do.

We have life experience, strong relationships and the children have grown up, so it is often the perfect time to reinvest in ourselves. We are more capable and knowledgeable than ever, and can contribute enormously to the economy, community and society as a whole, in something that we might be more passionate about than the job we may have been doing previously.

Plus, if we’re going to live for 100 years, why should we be settling for mundanity at the halfway point?

Our business strengths

We have so much to offer. Research shows that, as we get older, we spend more time talking to people – which means we are more likely to build relationships that are mutually beneficial not only in our private lives but in business (resulting in more sales and growth).

What’s more, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Today, the average person changes jobs ten to 15 times during his or her career, but this often slows down towards the second half of our working lives because we don’t want to rock the boat and find ourselves unemployed.

For workers over 50 who need or want to think about other ways to finance themselves and generate social and personal fulfilment, self-employment provides a viable solution.

The fact is that at 50-something we have accrued a wealth of knowledge and business and social experience over a long working period. Setting up a successful company when over 50 instils self-worth and value, financial independence, the chance to use all the skills built up over a lifetime of working, flexibility and the opportunity for a new challenge.

We know that either losing a job or early retirement may cause anxiety, isolation, poverty and a sedentary lifestyle. But if you have set up your own business, your work is fulfilling and you are feeling sharp because you are passionate about it, then you are more likely to stay mentally fit and healthy (with knock-on physical benefits).

Changing jobs in our fifties keeps us fresh, and we are more likely to choose something we really want to do rather than something we just settle for.

For the 50-plus age group, personal referrals and networking continues to be the best way to get new business (though we do need to be up to date in our knowledge of social media and IT to stay ahead).

From my talks with organisations including pension funds and HR professionals, I know that in business there is an ageism issue, with only a small percentage of organisations realising and addressing the problems of talent lost through redundancy. Is it any wonder that 50-plussers are jumping ship in droves, and setting up for themselves before they are pushed?

Start-ups: three ways to face your fear

1 Don’t allow age to be a barrier

Focus on the fact that you are an experienced individual with a good track record of success. You are probably bursting with valuable knowledge for the organisation.

Assess your transferable skills and strengths

If you’ve been in the same industry for a long time, it can be easy to believe you only know how to do one type of job. Sit down, and scrutinise what you actually do day-to-day, then analyse which you use every day. This will help you realise how transferable your skillset is, and in turn make you more confident when deciding on a new career.

Take a leap of faith

Don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from trying to do something that may make you happy. Although you may have commitments such as a mortgage and family, if you believe that you have the ability, knowledge and determination to achieve a goal, don’t let anything hold you back.

Visit Dr Lynda Shaw‘s website