The Charity was established in 1999 by HRH The Prince of Wales in response to letters he was receiving from people desperate to work but unable to find anyone to employ them – because of their age.
The Prince’s Initiative also offers free workshops, courses, mentoring programmes and networking events as well as online resources for the over 50 entrepreneur to help them start up in business. The Charity also submitted a report earlier this year named The Small Business Party Group Enquiry to raise the concern that there is little understanding of the potential issues and barriers that the unemployed mature worker (50-64 year olds eligible to work) faces.
The Initiative has also began publishing case studies on some of the entrepreneurs who have benefitted from the programme. Here are two stories that caught our eye and we will be showcasing more success stories next week.
Before becoming self-employed, Steve Tiernan worked as the Business Manager of Private Eye Magazine and was responsible for the publishing function of the magazine for over six years.
Unfortunately, in 2010, Steve was made redundant when the company outsourced the work from his department for cost saving purposes – “I had worked there for such a long time and was disappointed to be made redundant. I did try and find another job but I was in my mid-50s and my employment options weren’t great. I had a couple of interviews, but generally found myself in a situation where employers found me over qualified.”
In 2012, Steve decided that self-employment was a great option for him and set up his company ‘Pennine Publishing Consultancy’. It was at that point that Steve came across The Prince’s Initiative and found the “Preparing to Run Your Own Business” course, which he signed up for immediately.
“The course was really beneficial – I’m using everything I learnt on the course every day and feel much more confident in my abilities to run a business. I also found sharing experiences and ideas with a room full of people of a similar age and background really encouraging. The course was even delivered by someone in their 50s who had been through a similar situation to me – the environment was really intellectually stimulating.”
In April 2008, Tony Palmer hit an all-time low, he had been made redundant at 52 and was suffering from Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) which can cause severe fatigue after mental or physical activity. Despite applying for a number of jobs he was never invited to an interview and began to come to terms with the fact that his chances of obtaining paid employment were slim.
At this point, Tony decided to take matters into his own hands and in a bold move cashed in his pension to fund the start-up of his glass engraving business, Crystal Mountain Glass.
To get his business off the ground, Tony gained information factsheets from The Prince’s Initiative. He also attended HMRC workshops where he gained advice on tax returns and VAT, as well as Business Link workshops which focussed on creating websites. Once Tony found a good deal for a glass supplier, Crystal Mountain Glass really began to take off.
Tony and his wife attend craft fairs each month to drive income and spread the word about their fantastic business. Although a pitch at one of these fairs can cost anything between £70 and £170 for a 6ft area they often bring in large orders a few months down the line. Additionally, Tony attends a small business club in Thurrock where he gains knowledge, tips and contacts from other members.
As well as his business being a success, now that Tony is his own boss his ME has become more manageable. Tony’s old job demanded long periods of time looking at a computer screen which led to him taking time off to recover. However, he is now in control of his time in front of the computer, interchanging it with other aspects of the business and so his health has improved.
Currently, Crystal Mountain Glass is going from strength to strength, selling a variety of products, such as engraved awards, wedding gifts, decanters, bowls and paper weights, as well as rock tablets with multilevel carving and Swarovski crystals. In the future, Tony hopes the business will generate enough profit to support his dream of opening a shop to showcase his products.
Tony’s key tip in becoming self-employed is to get as much advice as possible as it is ‘free and always valuable’. If you’d like to check out Tony’s exciting venture then log on to www.crystalmountainglass.co.uk
Want to find out more about the Prince's Initiative and how it can help you? Go to www.prime.org.uk