Monday 5 September 2005 10:33 am

Enterprise Nation

Emma Jones is founder of small business support network Enterprise Nation

They are healthy, wealthy and in business. Baby boomers across the UK are making the most of their physical fitness and property values to launch portfolio careers and start up businesses in their droves.

Born between the years of 1946 and 1964, the boomers are independent risk-takers who are coming good on the predictions of a thinktank report authored in 2003, announcing that 50.5 per cent of boomers would rather be a self-employed entrepreneur than an employee.

A glance through the pages of SAGA magazine points to how serious our boomers are about living life
on their own terms and working in a way that offers flexibility with financial reward. This month’s
lifestyle feature shows a beaming couple who resigned from their jobs to buy a vineyard and a B&B business and have had neither the time nor the inclination to look back.

As I sit here, writing this piece from a home office in a country town, my two boomer neighbours are respectively running their property and financial advisory businesses, from the very same premises. As we pass each other on the stairs, I ask after them and hear the reply, “Business is thriving, off to Spain tomorrow for a week with the grandkids.” They are the happiest and healthiest-looking people in the

As a nation, we would do well to encourage more boomers to consider going it alone and starting a business. In truth, we can’t afford the alternative.

Earlier this year the Government revealed figures showing that unemployment of the over 50s costs the UK economy up to £31bn a year. Add to this population trends showing the number of people aged 50 to 64 rising by 25 per cent over the next 20 years, while the number of 20-to29-year-olds will fall by 20 per cent over the same period, and there is just cause for worried talk as to who will support this ageing community.

Yet, as one wise 50-year-old FT columnist rightly stated, “the answer is obvious: we will support
ourselves — by working.”

Through their work the boomers have a role to play in coaching the next generation. Think of the opportunity to bring together the commercial experience, confidence and contacts of the over 50s with the ideas and energy of 14- to 25-yearolds who are just starting out on their enterprising journey.

Now that would be blooming marvellous.