Is your age a barrier? Not in franchising!

There is lots of discussion at the moment about the high number of over 50s who have left the workforce, during and since the pandemic.

Is your age a barrier? Not in franchising!

There is lots of discussion at the moment about the high number of over 50s who have left the workforce, during and since the pandemic. The government is talking about taking steps to encourage them back as we have a shortage of workers across many industry sectors in the UK, and the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is urging people who have retired early to return to work.

Yet at the same time, the over 50s have come up against a reluctance among employers to recruit older workers. Research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) suggests firms are much less open to hiring older workers than they are to bringing in younger people. The CMI survey found that just 42% of managers were open “to a large extent” to hiring people aged between 50 and 64.

If you are looking to change roles or re-enter the workplace as a member of the over 50s ‘club’, it must feel as though you can’t win!

Maybe this could be linked to the high number of people thinking of starting their own business instead of getting a job. According to HSBC, 86 businesses were set up every hour in the UK during the last financial year, with over 750,000 new companies being registered on Companies House.

But despite these high numbers, running a business can be tougher than expected, and one in five UK businesses are unlikely to survive beyond their first birthday.

So, although running your own business could really fill the gap if you are looking for a change or to return to the workforce as an older worker, it is a risky endeavour which won’t be for everyone.

However, one sector which would definitely welcome this older age-group and reduce the risks involved, is franchising, one of the UK’s best kept secrets. Franchising bridges the gap between ‘full on’ high risk self-employment and staying, or re-joining, the workforce.

You have the opportunity of starting up a franchise with training, support and a network of fellow franchisees, with similar business issues and successes to emulate, so you are not on your own.

Why not find something you will love doing – what are you interested in? Now is the time to think about a complete change if you want to, as the training and support should fill the gaps in your knowledge.

With years of experience behind you, you will have transferable skills to bring to the table. Never underestimate the power of that experience, especially if you’ve been managing people or building sales relationships.

However, you should not go into this new world of running your own business with the view that you know it all already! Some of the franchise support staff who will be training and helping you to launch will probably be much younger than you but will have specific knowledge and understanding of this new business you are entering into. So do put your ego to one side and make sure that you take full advantage of all the help and support on offer.

For instance, social media is here to stay and although you probably won’t need to suddenly become a YouTuber or a Tiktok expert, if these platforms help you reach customers, take advice from the youngsters and give it a go!

The financial aspects will obviously be important, you may have to take a drop in income for a period while you build up your new franchise business but as long as you plan and budget carefully, you can take this into account. Some older workers are really aiming for a change of pace and less pressure rather than being motivated by money. This is something that buying a franchise can help with, as there is such a wide range of business types available, including some which offer more of a part-time opportunity.

Being over 50 in the workforce might be a disadvantage as you might not be who some (short-sighted) employers are looking for but that is their loss! You might also be nervous about starting a business on your own without experience especially in view of the statistics about business failures.

But don’t be put off – your skills and experience have a lot to offer so have a look at franchising for some ideas and start doing some research about what the sector can provide. A great place to start is the British Franchise Association website ( so take that step now to explore a new future on your terms! 

Cathryn Hayes
Cathryn Hayes