Skip to content
Home / Services / Self Employment

Self Employment

Self Employment

Self Employment

Many 50+ customers have particular skills, knowledge, talents and experience which would enable them to work for themselves. However, introducing it as a work option can present a challenge for both you and your customer if neither of you have had experience of running a business


Nevertheless, it is important for you to raise awareness of this option because it may not naturally occur to your customers. They may not know:
  • around one in five working people over 50 is self-employed
  • survival rates for businesses run by over-50s are better than for younger people
  • earnings can be significantly higher.
What does working for yourself entail? This list summarises the key tasks.
 
What does self employment entail?
  • Producing something – dress-making or pottery, for example – or delivering a service, such as book-keeping or home cleaning. There are hundreds of different ideas which can be turned into a business, all based on something the customer can do - or could do well with encouragement.
  • Selling the product or service to customers or clients and making sure they know how to find out about what you do (marketing).
  • Planning spending or income and resources, so they don’t run out of material or money.
  • Registering the business with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and ensuring that they are aware of legal requirements, such as Health and Safety.
  • Possibly borrowing money to set up a business or to buy an existing business.
  • Possibly employing other people or finding a business partner to help.
 
 
Most of the tasks may involve developing new skills, but the key things to remember are:
  • there is a great deal of support available to anyone who is considering working for themselves. For example, the Government has announced it will give extra help to unemployed people who want to start their own business through the New Enterprise Allowance (opens in new tab or window).
  • any business idea should never be evaluated or judged by a non-specialist.

Introducing the idea of self-employment

The way you introduce the idea of self-employment and the language you use is vital. Using the words ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘enterprise’ may bring to mind images of Alan Sugar or the Dragon’s Den investors. 50+ customers who have been unemployed for some time may compare themselves unfavourably to them. Not every person who works for themselves does so for purely financial reasons. Many do it for satisfaction and the fact that it suits their lifestyles.

Opening questions

“What skills or experience do you have, which others might pay you for?”
“You seem to be particularly good at…… or experienced in,…… perhaps you could think about working for yourself?”
Depending upon the circumstances of your customer, a number of responses may be given. This table will help you to deal with this in a positive and encouraging manner.
The key thing to remember is to not judge or evaluate any ideas they might suggest – simply encourage them to begin researching.
 
 

Table dealing with customer responses

 
Their response Your response Support available
I’ve never thought about it Well, you seem to be very good at/experienced in…… www.primebusinessclub.com and search for ‘Ideas for Business’.
Use case studies and role models to stimulate ideas.
I haven’t got any money You may not need money to start working for yourself. www.primebusinessclub.co.uk PRIME/Zopa loan
I am not healthy enough There is lots of support for people with health problems. See How to help customers overcome barriers (link to that subsection’s Useful links)
I am too old People aged between 50-65 start 27 per cent of successful new businesses. 20 per cent of this age group already run their own business. Use role models and case studies to show that age is not a barrier.
Everyone would laugh at me If you research the idea then you can prove them wrong. Use case studies and role models to build confidence.
It wouldn’t work out/I’m too scared We can find someone to help you to find an idea and how to research it, so you will know if it has a good chance. Referral to local enterprise coach or mentor. Emphasise value of research and planning.
I haven’t got the skills/qualifications There is lots of training and support available and you don’t always need previous experience to set up a business. Business Link provides access to a wide range of courses locally across the UK.
www.businesslink.gov.uk Enterprise Agencies also run training programmes. www.nfea.com
What about selling/finance? If the customer asks a business-related question, these web sites may help you to respond. www.startupdonut.co.uk www.syob.co.uk www.businesslink.gov.uk www.bytestart.co.uk Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed

Many 50+ customers have particular skills, knowledge, talents and experience which would enable them to work for themselves. However, introducing it as a work option can present a challenge for both you and your customer if neither of you have had experience of running a business.
Nevertheless, it is important for you to raise awareness of this option because it may not naturally occur to your customers. They may not know:
  • around one in five working people over 50 is self-employed
  • survival rates for businesses run by over-50s are better than for younger people
  • earnings can be significantly higher.
What does working for yourself entail? This list summarises the key tasks.
 

What does self-employment entail?

  • Producing something – dress-making or pottery, for example – or delivering a service, such as book-keeping or home cleaning. There are hundreds of different ideas which can be turned into a business, all based on something the customer can do - or could do well with encouragement.
  • Selling the product or service to customers or clients and making sure they know how to find out about what you do (marketing).
  • Planning spending or income and resources, so they don’t run out of material or money.
  • Registering the business with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and ensuring that they are aware of legal requirements, such as Health and Safety.
  • Possibly borrowing money to set up a business or to buy an existing business.
  • Possibly employing other people or finding a business partner to help.

Most of the tasks may involve developing new skills, but the key things to remember are:
  • there is a great deal of support available to anyone who is considering working for themselves. For example, the Government has announced it will give extra help to unemployed people who want to start their own business through the New Enterprise Allowance (open in new tab or window).
  • any business idea should never be evaluated or judged by a non-specialist.

 

Introducing the idea of self-employment

The way you introduce the idea of self-employment and the language you use is vital. Using the words ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘enterprise’ may bring to mind images of Alan Sugar or the Dragon’s Den investors. 50+ customers who have been unemployed for some time may compare themselves unfavourably to them. Not every person who works for themselves does so for purely financial reasons. Many do it for satisfaction and the fact that it suits their lifestyles.

Opening questions

“What skills or experience do you have, which others might pay you for?”
“You seem to be particularly good at…… or experienced in,…… perhaps you could think about working for yourself?”

Depending upon the circumstances of your customer, a number of responses may be given. This table will help you to deal with this in a positive and encouraging manner.

The key thing to remember is to not judge or evaluate any ideas they might suggest – simply encourage them to begin researching.
 

Table: dealing with customer responses

Their response Your response Support available
I’ve never thought about it Well, you seem to be very good at/experienced in…… www.primebusinessclub.com and search for ‘Ideas for Business’.
Use case studies and role models to stimulate ideas.
I haven’t got any money You may not need money to start working for yourself. www.primebusinessclub.co.uk PRIME/Zopa loan
I am not healthy enough There is lots of support for people with health problems. See How to help customers overcome barriers (link to that subsection’s Useful links)
I am too old People aged between 50-65 start 27 per cent of successful new businesses. 20 per cent of this age group already run their own business. Use role models and case studies to show that age is not a barrier.
Everyone would laugh at me If you research the idea then you can prove them wrong. Use case studies and role models to build confidence.
It wouldn’t work out/I’m too scared We can find someone to help you to find an idea and how to research it, so you will know if it has a good chance. Referral to local enterprise coach or mentor. Emphasise value of research and planning.
I haven’t got the skills/qualifications There is lots of training and support available and you don’t always need previous experience to set up a business. Business Link provides access to a wide range of courses locally across the UK.
www.businesslink.gov.uk Enterprise Agencies also run training programmes. www.nfea.com
What about selling/finance? If the customer asks a business-related question, these web sites may help you to respond. www.startupdonut.co.uk www.syob.co.uk www.businesslink.gov.uk www.bytestart.co.uk Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed

If the customer needs further encouragement to consider this option, describing some of the benefits may help:
 
Benefits of Self Employment
  • Flexibility and control (over working hours)
  • Independence (financial and autonomy)
  • Self-fulfilment
  • Realising a long-held ambition
  • Supplementing pension funds
  • Using skills or talents to greater extent
  • Retire when you are ready
 
 
And finally, it is useful to remember that people over 50 have a good deal of working experience which will help them create a sustainable business. But it is important to encourage anyone considering setting up their own business to carry out some market research to make sure there is a demand for the products or services they are thinking of providing.

 
Case Study 1: Self- Employment (Tribal Employability Skills)
 
Having worked in the gas industry since he was a teenager, Tony Glover (59) from Sinfin, Derby, was shell-shocked after being made redundant in 2009.

Tony, who had previously never been out of work, had his career reignited thanks to the job support and advice from the project Skills for Jobs, funded by the European Social Fund. This project is delivered by Tribal Employability and Skills, who have offices in Nottingham and Derby. He now has a full-time job as well as fulfilling his ambition to run his own gas fitting and repair business.

Tony explains: “After having 44 years’ experience in this industry, I felt confident I would get back into work quickly, but the recession had hit even harder than I had realised.

“I had never had to prepare a CV before or fill out a job application, as I had always got jobs via word of mouth, so realised I needed to get some expert help.”

After hearing about Tribal, Tony set up a meeting with adviser Emma Dalby and told her it was his dream to set up his own business, but had no experience and very limited knowledge in this area.

Emma said: “I could see that despite the knock to Tony’s confidence after the shock of being made redundant he was determined to get back into work.

“I was able to give one-to-one advice and help present his wealth of qualifications, knowledge and experience of the gas industry in his CV. I then referred him to my colleague, Jon Archard who specialises in new business advice.”

Tony had a productive meeting with Jon to talk about business loans and grants, how to write a business plan, how to do cash forecasts and where to find specific support available for people over 50. Jon continued to support and advise Tony through the first three months of his venture.

Tony added: “I found the help from both Emma and Jon extremely useful and encouraging in helping to move my part-time business forward, which is called ‘The Gasman’, serving homes in and around the Sinfin area of Derby. I’m also working full time for EIC, a national building services company based in Warwickshire, which means I’m keeping busy and expanding my skills.”
 
 
Case Study 2: Self-Employment (Advanta)
 
Helen, 57, had spent many years working in the public sector. After almost 18 months of unemployment, Helen was becoming increasingly frustrated at not being able to find a job and was occupying her time by indulging her passion for growing plants. During the summer months of 2010, she went to one or two local fairs to sell her plants.

Shortly after, her Jobcentre Plus Personal Adviser told her that she would either have to join a New Deal programme or, if she wanted to explore the possibility of self employment, she could be referred to Avanta (an organisation offering a range of innovative enterprise support programmes, working with Jobcentre Plus, Business Link and other partners to deliver support to people from wide and varied communities in the UK). Because her plant sales had gone well, she was interested in finding out how far this could take her and agreed to go to Avanta.

Alexis, a Senior Business Adviser at Avanta in New Barnet, showed Helen how to put together a business plan, maintain her own financial records and how to deal with tax. While developing her business plan they looked at practical issues such as if her garden was large enough to grow all the plants she needed and how she would transport them to market. Fortunately, Helen was in a position where she would be able to use family members' gardens. She also owned a car so she could transport her plants to sales outlets.

One thing that Helen had to come to terms with was a slight feeling of guilt that she would be making money from what had been, up to then, purely a hobby. She felt it couldn't be right. Another of her concerns was that her business would be seasonal and she wondered what she would do in the winter. Alexis, knowing that most people had more than one string to their bow, asked what else she liked doing. Helen said she enjoyed making jam and that she also liked needlework and sewing, and often finished what other people started.

Towards the end of 2010, she decided to diversify and extended her business activities: she did needlework and sewing to order and expanded into making jams, believing she was incurring no risk other than having to consume a lot of jam if it didn't sell. But she had no grounds for concern as she managed to sell all the jam she made at £2 a jar.

Helen's circle of friends, as well as her family, supported her in her new business. She mentioned that she was about to start doing some sewing and they spread the word and the orders started coming in. "I find that people are usually supportive of others starting their business, unless it is in competition with their own," Alexis said.
Just after Christmas 2010, after Helen has been out selling jams for the first time, she believed she had a sustainable business and accepted that it was fine to make money out of an activity she enjoyed.
To assess viability of her business, Helen and Alexis considered everything from how long it takes to produce one jar of jam, the cost involved, and how many fairs she would be able to attend.

As Helen's business is seasonal, she has to plan carefully. Although January and February are quiet, she uses these months to schedule her activities for the year: when she will start growing plants, when she needs to book a stall at fairs, and when she needs to have enough produce ready for peak selling periods.

In August 2011, some 12 months after she first came to Avanta, Helen felt that her business was established. She thoroughly enjoys making money from her hobbies and is able to draw on the project management skills she developed in her previous job.

As soon as Alexis met Helen, he realised Helen was proactive and had initiative. She had found out about the first two fairs she had attended via the internet. "Helen had what it takes. She only needed a little push to do it and some background knowledge about running her own business," he commented. "In most cases I find people able to run their own business only need a boost to their confidence."
 
 
WHP is co-financed by the ESF

Co-financed by the European Social Fund