Don’t let age be a barrier

Margaret Wood started her engineering company ICW UK, which makes high-tech windows and windscreens, at the age of 46. Based in Yorkshire the 61-year-old entrepreneur received a Women Inventors in Industry award in 2003. Her company has a turnover of £400,000

What attracted you to running a business?
After my husband died because I needed a way of supporting my three teenage sons. That was my main incentive. At the time the advice I got was to remarry, but I didn’t want to. Instead, I wanted to paddle my own canoe and make a go of it myself.

What was your experience of the industry?
My background was in engineering, having worked primarily in project management. From my husband’s work I knew the area of glazing products was fairly niche, so it seemed like a good opportunity. However, I had no business background at all. It was all a learning curve for me.

How did you get the business off the ground?

I got someone to invest in our company, which is how we obtained credit, but I bought them out ten years ago. I also put some of my own personal money into it. As far as marketing was concerned, it was just a case of making phone calls and going to face-to-face meetings. I enjoyed the process and learnt not to take rejection personally.

Do you think it’s hard to start-up as an older woman?

Having a business can be like having a child; it takes a lot out of you. For women who don’t have much support it can be really tough, and I didn’t have much after my husband died. In this country, the main problem is that people are afraid of failure. Older people should just go for it! If things don’t work out, there’s no stigma attached.

Where do you see the company going?
I’d like to develop into the housing market. A lot of elderly people have problems ventilating their homes, so we could develop the touch-screen window opening, which we developed for use on public transport. Beyond that, I’d like the business to just carry on going after I fully retire.

See also: Starting up later in life

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