Starting a business after 60

Retirement is an opportunity to turn over a new chapter of life, away from the stress of a nine-to-five job. Yet, according to our Voice of New Retirement report, over half of the population is planning to continue working once retired, with one in five people wanting to start their own business.

The baby-boomers’ unprecedented entrepreneurial spirit shows that the perception of retirement is evolving. Today, retiring is about being more accomplished and working towards a personal goal rather than achieving professional recognition.

Edward Marlowe started his car sales business at the age of 60. According to him, launching a business as a second career is all about enjoying what you do and using “your experience to build something that you maybe wouldn’t have dared to do when you were younger.”

We’ve talked to two successful entrepreneurs who started their business later in life: Edward Marlowe founder of Alwoodley Motors and Cyndy Lessing co-founder of SoSensational. They told us about their entrepreneurial journey, from the challenges in the early days to the successes of their businesses.

Name: Edward Marlowe

Age: 66

Previous Career: Owner of a textile/curtain business and fabric trader

Current Business: Alwoodley Motors – a specialist prestige used car dealer

Founded in: 2010

Started as a hobby and a source of extra income during retirement, Alwoodley Motors quickly expanded when Edward Marlowe’s son joined the business in 2011. They now have 50 cars and a large showroom in Leeds.

What inspired you to start your own business? 

I had always loved cars and had many beautiful cars in the past so it was something I was interested in and also enjoyed. Then in 2011 we expanded and my son came in with me and we set up a limited company with premises and a showroom for the cars.  

Did you have any kind of support?

I had support from the bank who were happy to extend me an overdraft and from my son and my wife who set up the company and deals with all the financial side and the accounts.

According to you, what are the pros of having your own business as a second career?

It gives you an interest and the extra income is welcome and you don’t have the pressure of having a young family to support so you can enjoy the rewards, knowing you have already the funds for the future and your pension behind you.   


What were or are the challenges?

The challenges were the total  commitment needed in the first couple of years as we worked hard work to establish the business. Also as it was a new business we had to learn all aspects of car finance, buying, compliance etc to make the business successful and viable as it will inevitably become my son's business as he builds his own future.

Looking back, would you have approached these challenges differently?

No, not really, I knew about  setting up a business and I wanted to do everything right but I have learnt a lot about this particular business and I have always enjoyed buying and selling whether its fabric, soft furnishings or cars.

Has having your own business had an impact on your current lifestyle?

It has caused a certain amount of pressure and lack of free time for hobbies as I enjoy walking and cycling but now I try to make time to do these on certain days. It has impacted my wife too as she is now committed to her side of things but we try to use our time wisely and enjoy life to the full.

Are you employing anyone at the moment?

No, it’s just a family business at the moment and we manage it between us.

What advice would you give to those who are over 60 and looking to start their own business?

Think carefully before you make the commitment. Don’t speculate and only invest funds which won't affect your future if the business should fail. Have a business which is an interest and keep it manageable.

But mainly do something you enjoy - and you can use your experience to build something that you maybe would not have dared to do when you were younger.

 

Name: Cyndy Lessing

Age: 66

Previous Careers: Insurance broker and Image Consultant

Current Business: SoSensational – a shopping and style website for women

Founded in: 2010

After noticing a gap in the market Jan Shure and Cyndy Lessing started SoSensational - an e-commerce website for ‘grown up’ women - featuring hand-picked clothing collections, accessories, shoes and beauty products.

What inspired you to start your own business?

So many of our peers were telling us that they didn’t know where to shop, now that they were experiencing silhouette changes.  They perceived the high street to be full of shops purely for the young (or stick thin!)  I asked Jan if she’d like to join me in doing something about it, she said yes, and the rest is history! 

We didn’t have a clue about websites, affiliate marketing or search engine optimisation but we learned along the way.  It just took longer…

I have certainly never thought about retiring and I don’t believe Jan has either, despite having had a brain tumour removed in 2014 from which she is still recovering.  We both have a passion for the business and a very strong belief in what we’re doing. 

How old were you at the time?

I was 61 and Jan was 59. 

Did you have any kind of support?

Our families were very supportive of what we were trying to do.  And still are.

As for investment, Jan and I funded the business, with the help of a relative in the last couple of years. 

According to you, what are the pros of having your own business as a second career?

I’ve always had my own business – first the insurance brokerage in which I was partners with my husband, and then StyleTalks, my image consultancy. 

SoSensational is Jan’s first business ownership.  Owning one’s own business is very rewarding in terms of flexibility and it feels good to be making all the decisions. Our success is in our hands. 

What were or are the challenges?

The business is based at my home so I tend to work very long hours and at weekends.  Jan works from her home now too – it’s very easy for her just to go to the laptop and write another fashion blog, whatever time it may be!

Besides the really heavy blow of Jan’s illness, our new website took nine months to build instead of three, and then we had a black hat virus on the site, two weeks after it was launched.  That cut our visitor numbers in half.

Looking back, would you have approached the challenges differently?

I would have checked that the web developers had sufficient security on the new site to ensure that we didn’t get hacked and have also been much more realistic on how long it really takes to get a website together. 

Has having your own business had an impact on your current lifestyle?

A lot of the impact for me has been because of Jan illness, but I’ve just learned to need less sleep and just get on with it. 

It does impact on family life in that we are so busy now, I don’t get to spend Friday’s with my grandsons as I used to and I do a lot of weekend working too. But my husband is now retired and he helps a lot at home – it’s teamwork!

Are you employing anyone at the moment?

We have a wonderful, young team of two full time staff – Rebecca who is responsible for putting on the blogposts, getting the newsletters out on time and for liaising with our brand partners. Kayleigh is responsible for our competitions and social media.   We couldn’t manage without our team!

What advice would you give to those who are over 60 and looking to start their own business?

Jan and I don’t think about our ages – and we work in an arena where we have shoes older than most of the people we work with! If you have a passion and a belief that your vision will work, go for it!  How awful would it be to look back and think ‘if only…’

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