Published: January 4, 2022 | Updated: January 4, 2022

50-plus and yearn to start your own business? Suzanne’s free online school is just the ticket

Suzanne Noble: “We want to give older people a platform through which they can take back control by launching a business of their own.”
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Fifty, sixty and seventy-somethings in Dorset are invited to join an online school for ‘olderpreneurs’ seeking to set up in business post-Covid.

The Startup School for Seniors is the brainchild of US-born entrepreneur Suzanne Noble, 60,

She came up with the idea of the free, eight-week course in her hometown of London as a result of lockdown causing large rises in unemployment for over-50s.

Suzanne says that whereas the pandemic affected the younger generation and over 50s the worst, it’s the older generation who will struggle to pick themselves up.

Now she’s bringing Startup School for Seniors to Dorset – the first outside the capital – after it featured in national media including The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express.

Suzanne said: “Covid has changed the employment market irreversibly and made it even harder for workers aged 50-plus to find a job.

‘The number of people claiming unemployment benefits has gone up by thousands across Dorset compared to the start of the pandemic.

“According to the Office for National Statistics, 15,765 people were claiming out-of-work benefits in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole as of September 10, 2020, compared to just 6,505 in early March.

“Meanwhile, according to the Centre for Ageing , one in four furloughed workers were aged 50 or older, and low re-employment rates for over 50s is a real concern as we emerge from this crisis.

“We want to give older people a platform through which they can take back control by launching a business of their own.

“When people think of start-ups, they tend to picture high-growth tech businesses launched by 20-somethings, but in reality the decision for many people to set up their own company is increasingly driven by necessity and putting food on the table.

“One positive to come from the last two years is that it can make Brits realise ‘it’s now or never’ and spur them to set up their own business or side hustle.

“People should remember that they have lots of transferable skills that are relevant in the modern workplace.

“I’d advise them to take stock of what they enjoy doing, especially around what’s known as soft skills such as creative thinking, adaptability, communication, curiosity and how they can use these to their advantage.

“It could involve them monetising a lifelong hobby or putting the experience they’ve gleaned through their employed careers into use for themselves.

“For many of the olderpreneurs on our course, self-employment is also about flexibility and working around caring responsibilities, which affect one in five people over 50.”

The online course comprises over 25 hours of video lessons from Suzanne and co-founder Mark Elliott, 57, pictured left, plus a weekly exploration and collaboration call designed to encourage participants to articulate their business ideas in a safe and welcoming space.

By the end of the course, participants will have improved their digital skills via Zoom, and many will have produced a short-form video to showcase their business.

Of the previous participants in the course, nearly 40 per cent had made money from their business before they finished the course and 100 per cent reported feeling more confident.

Suzanne added: “We have designed, facilitated and participated in many start-up programmes and seen how these often fail participants, especially those in the intersections of age, gender, colour, ability, wealth and class.

“Whether your goal is to turn a hobby into a money making project, whether it’s about having a burning passion, whether it’s just about putting food on the table doesn’t matter.

“Whatever the reason inspired you to join Startup School, we’re going to take you, a unique individual with a personal vision, through the same steps that have helped others reach their goal.

“Because while entrepreneurial paths lead in different directions, the first steps toward success are always the same.”

Startup School for Seniors starts online on Friday January 14 and is free to anyone aged 50+, currently unemployed, and recently been made redundant or economically inactive who are resident in Dorset.