By Daniel Hunter

The number of people in their late 50s and 60s either starting a small business or freelancing for the first time almost doubled in the past 12 months, according to a survey of micro and small business owners conducted by online freelancer marketplace PeoplePerHour.

The figures revealed that the 55 plus year old demographic was the fastest growing age group on the PeoplePerHour website, with an 88% rise in new micro and small business owners registering on the website in the past year. The range of businesses they were running was wide and varied, but the top three sectors in terms of numbers were internet-based businesses, retail and property.

And the statistics suggest it’s never too late to start a business, with almost two thirds (64%) of those older small business owners revealing that it was the first business they had set up.

PeoplePerHour also asked small business owners across all age demographics how they felt about running a business, especially in the current climate. More than two thirds (38%) said it was challenging and that the next six months would be make or break. When asked what they would do if the business failed, almost half had the ‘if at first you don’t succeed’ attitude, and said they would start another business.

It seems that being your own boss really does lift the spirit, however hard it gets or stressful it can be. Because, when business owners were asked how they felt about being their own boss, almost nine out of ten (87%), said they were happy or very happy with being in control of their own destiny. And more than two thirds (69%) of those surveyed said they were never or unlikely to consider working for someone else again.

Asked why they started a business in the first place, a third (33%) of those business owners questioned said they started working for themselves for a better work life balance, more than a quarter (26%) wanted to pursue a hobby or passion, while 12% said it was for financial freedom.

And on growing the business, when business owners were asked if they were looking to grow or consolidate over the next 12 months, the majority (78%) said they were keen to grow despite the adverse economic conditions.

“The barriers to starting a business have never been lower, and this could be one of the main reasons we’re seeing such a big rise in the baby boomer generation choosing to take the self employment route later in life," Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour, commented.

“The key to this growing trend of new small business owners, not just amongst the baby boomers, but across generations, is how easy and cheap it is now to set up a business and build a client base from scratch.

“And our research shows that despite the stresses and money worries that are often associated with starting and growing a business, the rewards and overall satisfaction that people get from being their own boss, clearly helps overcome many of the obstacles put in their way. The dream of being an entrepreneur is no longer just that.”

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