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Unretirement: Championing The New Wave of Older Entrepreneurs

For too long, the over-50s have been overlooked and undervalued in the workplace. However, the tide is turning, and 55/Redefined, in collaboration with Specsavers, is at the forefront of this change.

This partnership has led to the creation of a new category in the Great British Entrepreneurs Awards – the Unretirement Entrepreneur of the Year Award. This award recognises and celebrates the over-50s entrepreneurs who are defying the odds and building successful businesses.

55/Redefined is deeply committed to supporting over-50s entrepreneurs. We believe that age is an asset, not a barrier. Over-50s entrepreneurs have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and networks that they can bring to bear on their businesses. They're also more likely to be successful, with a higher start-up success rate than younger entrepreneurs.

Specsavers too are fully committed to supporting older entrepreneurs through its partnership scheme, giving support and mentoring to candidates of any age who wish to part-own and run a joint venture of their own, as part of the Specsavers group.

Together, 55/Redefined and Specsavers share a synergy in their support of this cohort, which is why they have come together to establish this new and important accolade, to acknowledge that mid-life can be the start of something brilliant.

Why We Should All Support Older Entrepreneurs

55/Redefined and Specsavers are passionate about supporting over-50s entrepreneurs because we believe that age is an asset, not a barrier. Over-50s entrepreneurs have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and networks that they can bring to bear on their businesses.

"At 55/Redefined, we believe that age is just a number, and it should never be a barrier to pursuing dreams," says Lyndsey Simpson, founder and CEO of 55/Redefined. "We are thrilled to partner with Specsavers to celebrate older entrepreneurs who are disrupting the status quo and proving that age is an asset, not a liability." 

The Power of Unretirement

Unretirement is the new retirement. It's about living a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life. And for many over-50s, that means stepping up and starting their own business.

55/Redefined’s report into ageing, The Unretirement Uprising, found that there are many reasons why people are unretiring. Some people are simply bored in retirement. Others want to continue working to stay mentally and physically active. And still others are motivated by a desire to make a difference in the world. Many feel pushed out by employers – as many as 1 in 5 found that they were overlooked for promotion past 50. With limited growth opportunities with employers, it’s little wonder that many are striking out and making the decision to go it alone.

Why Unretirement Entrepreneurship is the Disruption We Need

Unretiree entrepreneurs are disrupting the business landscape. These over-50s entrepreneurs are not just starting mundane ventures; they’re often at the forefront of innovation; their ventures both lucrative and impactful. Their businesses often emerge from a lifetime of observing gaps in the market, understanding longstanding problems, and having the wisdom to devise sustainable solutions.

The Success of Older Entrepreneurs in the UK

There’s a growing body of evidence that shows that older entrepreneurs are more successful than younger entrepreneurs:

  • Older entrepreneurs are contributing significantly to the UK economy. A report by the Department for Work and Pensions found that over-50s entrepreneurs contribute over £25 billion to the UK economy each year.
  • Midlife entrepreneurs are bringing new ideas and perspectives to the table. They're also more likely to start businesses in underserved markets.
  • These battle-hardened entrepreneurs are contributing significantly to job creation and GDP growth. Their businesses tend to have a higher survival rate. A study by Age UK found that businesses started by older entrepreneurs had a 70% chance of surviving the critical first five years, compared to 28% for younger entrepreneurs. This stability directly translates to steady job opportunities and robust contributions to the economy.

And of course, it almost goes without saying that older entrepreneurs are not only creating jobs, but are fostering inclusive environments that shatter age stereotypes. But it's not just about the money or societal impact. It's about the indomitable spirit of the over-50s. There's something awe-inspiring about someone who, after decades in a particular field, decides to pivot and start anew. It sends a powerful message to the world: Age is not a barrier; it's a launchpad.

Imagine being in your prime, thinking you've seen it all, done it all, only to dive headfirst into uncharted waters. It requires courage, determination, and a dash of audacity. It's this spirit that's making waves in the entrepreneurial world, showing everyone that the over-50s are a force to be reckoned with.

In a world that's rapidly ageing, these golden entrepreneurs are not just relevant; they are essential. They're a testament to the boundless potential of age and an inspiration to us all.

A Powerful Collaboration

The partnership between 55/Redefined and Specsavers is a powerful one, working together to uplift older founders and helping to build the age-inclusive economy.

55/Redefined’s founder and CEO, Lyndsey Simpson is a serial entrepreneur, recognised as one of the UKs ‘Top 35 Businesswomen’ and one of the UKs ‘50 Most Inspirational Entrepreneurs’.

Specsavers co-founder, Dame Mary Perkins, founded Specsavers in her forties, growing it into a multimillion-pound global business.

The Unretirement Entrepreneur of the Year Award is a celebration of British innovation and entrepreneurship. It recognises the audacious over-50s entrepreneurs who are smashing stereotypes, defying the odds and building successful businesses.

This is the first step in the partnership between 55/Redefined and Specsavers, who are working in collaboration to expand the opportunities that are available for over-50s who wish to be their own bosses. Great ideas don’t come with an expiry date, and there shouldn’t be one for people looking to step up and do something for themselves and go it alone.

A New Era of Entrepreneurs

Unretirement entrepreneurship is a trend that’s set to grow, as over-50s founders are smashing stereotypes and building thriving ventures.

The Unretirement Entrepreneur of the Year Award celebrates these trailblazers, but we need more support across Britain to back this unstoppable movement.

55/Redefined is working tirelessly in lobbying the government to build age-positive policies to empower these leaders. We’re educating investors in why they should give due consideration to the pitches of older entrepreneurs. And we’re actively engaged with a number of blue-chip companies, helping them to recognise the power and performance of older workers, and how and where they can find that talent to develop a competitive advantage.

Make no mistake, this is not just a trend. It is a revolution brewing, one that will reshape our economy. The over-50s are hungry, visionary, and have much left to contribute.

The future of British business is experienced, passionate and purpose-driven. Together, we can support these renegade entrepreneurs as they redefine what it means to start up after 50. The encore awaits. It's time to give them a standing ovation.

Support and Resources for Unretiree Entrepreneurs

If you’re over 50 and thinking about starting your own business, there are many resources available to help you. Life/Redefined’s Jobs and Careers section is a great place to start, with a variety of resources and support services for over-50s entrepreneurs, and don’t miss our exclusive interview with none other than Sir Richard Branson, the ultimate redefiner and entrepreneur extraordinaire.

Here’s a few tips:

  1. Do your research. Make sure you have a good understanding of the market you are entering and the competition you will face.
  2. Develop a strong business plan. This will help you to clarify your goals and strategies.
  3. Consider a partnership or joint venture. If setting up on your own feels too overwhelming, a partnership with Specsavers, where you work independently as your own boss, but with all the support of a household-name brand may be the ideal solution.
  4. Network with other entrepreneurs. There are many online and offline communities where you can connect with other entrepreneurs to find support.
  5. Seek out funding. There are several funding options available for entrepreneurs, including government grants, loans, and venture capital.

If you’d like to partner with 55/Redefined to help support and champion older workers (or entrepreneurs), or would simply like to find out how to attract over-50s talent, we have a range of employer-focused solutions for you, including Age-Inclusive accreditation, Age Diagnostics and a wide range of consultancy and recruitment advertising packages.

For those with the drive to make it happen, becoming a partner at Specsavers is a fantastic way to take control of a business while avoiding the many risks of starting up on your own. Back in 1984, Doug and Mary Perkins realised that for an optical professional to really be part of the business, they had to have a stake in its ownership and profits and so they developed the ground-breaking joint venture partnership (JVP) model. This model is now also available for our audiology professionals.