Whatever you think of Benn’s politics most people respect him for being of that rare breed: a principled politician. However, he has also demonstrated that age is no barrier to great ideas – a fact many still fail to appreciate.
When it comes to our perceptions of what people can and can’t do according to their age, we need a serious re-think. Retirement is already set to increase from 65 to 68 and it’s no secret that we have a rapidly ageing population, with a fifth estimated to be over 65 by 2031.
For many owner-managers, there’s little intention of simply ‘switching off’ after hitting a certain number. In a recent poll from SmallBusiness.co.uk, only 30 per cent of respondents say they will retire around the statutory retirement age or younger.
Roger Taylor turned 65 last week and has been running financial advisory firm, IFA Cambrian Associates, for 37 years. He says: ‘At the moment I’m enjoying what I’m doing and have no thoughts of giving it up. It’s not something I’ve rationalised but the word that sums it up is fear. [It] is a negative emotion, but then I suppose it’s also something that drives entrepreneurs – the fear of failure and a desire to succeed.’
The wisdom of age can also be valuable to new business ventures. A report from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts found that people aged 50 to 65 were responsible for creating as many as 27 per cent of successful start-ups.
Taylor sums it up: ‘Of course I could do other things [if I retired], like learn a language, but I don’t know if that would stretch and motivate me as much as running my own business. There’s also a very strong duty to clients and the team we’ve built up over the years, many of whom have grown old with me. To find something as fulfilling would be a hell of a gap to fill.’
See also: Tips for older entrepreneurs