At Melanmag.com, we take every opportunity to encourage women to embrace their entrepreneurial side.
Many of us have innate multi-tasking and organisational skills that could very easily transfer to running a business. Of course, it’s hard to focus on a business venture when you are busy running a household and or bringing up a young family, but a new trend has come to light which sees older women, presumably having more time on their hands, starting new businesses.
It’s not news that over the last few years, there has been a marked increase in the numbers of female entrepreneurs who are taking bold leaps to start up a business venture. However, a recent article in The Guardian reported that there was a 67% increase in women over 55 opening a Barclays business account, furthermore, a study from the Office for National Statistics shows that older women make up a fifth of the UK’s new business owners.
A plausible explanation for the growing popularity of older business women could be that as their children have grown older and flown the coup, they have a lot more time on their hands and are able to finally follow through on their start up ideas. It also stands to reason that the older woman also has a bit more disposable cash at this stage of her life and some of the more daunting aspects of running a business are no longer an issue. After all, you only live once eh?
Illustrating this new trend is 52-year old Kemi Oloyede, founder of Sew London Project. Kemi had always wanted to run her own business but succumbed to the responsibilities of looking after her young family and juggling 9-5 roles. It wasn’t until she turned 50 that she took advantage of an opportunity to start her own venture.
We asked her a few questions to understand the barriers she faced to starting her venture when she was younger and the benefits of being a more mature business owner.
So, why did you decide to start your business now, and not when you were younger?
I had initially dabbled into a business idea a couple of decades ago, but the responsibility of bringing up my children, meant that I needed work with a regular income, therefore I relied on my teaching qualifications to work by day as a teacher. It was only in the evenings when my children were in bed that I was able to take up a few sewing/up-cycling commissions. Now that my children are grown up, I am able to focus a lot more on my creativity and be a full-time business woman.
Would you have had the right skills to run a business when you were younger?
To a certain extent, because 25 years ago it was a very different world. There were no social media platforms, it was word of mouth, publicity was done through local ads, the Loot, Yellow pages in terms of your business getting recognition. Also, we didn’t have the support that we have now through local organisations that support up and coming small businesses. Today, I am much better equipped to run a business, years of experience has given me tools and skills such as marketing knowledge, getting to grips with social media, sales, communication skills, time management, finance and delegation, and much more.
What are the biggest benefits of being a mature entrepreneur?
I have a much calmer and confident approach to business. I also have a wealth of experience to back me up, for example good listening skills, attention to detail and organisational skills. As a mature entrepreneur, my personal network has also grown over the years, and consist of a broader range of friends, former work mates, acquaintances, who are all potential clients either directly or indirectly through recommendation. Even when it comes to taking risks, maturity means that even there I am more measured due to tried and tested experience.
So, you see, it’s never too late to follow your ambition to start up a venture. As entrepreneur Liz Earle, said in the article: “50-plus women are often more agile and more adept at multitasking, because that’s what we have had to do over the last decades of our lives, juggling caring for older relatives with bringing up younger children. Home and work. It makes you nimble in your mindset. Nothing can replace experience, knowledge and wisdom, and you can’t buy them or study for them at university.”
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