Getting paid to do something you love is a no-brainer.
So why not try turning your favourite pastime into a prosperous career?
Here, Leah Milner And Rosie Taylor speak to six inspiring entrepreneurs, all aged over 50, about how they have succeeded in doing just that…
I used to be a big cheese – now I sell it!
In 2016, John, who is now 70, and his eldest daughter Clare Jackson, 42 (pictured together above), bought a delicatessen in Aldeburgh, Suffolk
After nearly half a century working in the City, John Ormerod didn’t want to just put his feet up when he retired. He had always loved cheese, but inspiration struck when his children bought him a gift voucher for a cheese shop and he realised how much he enjoyed chatting to the sellers about their produce.
So, in 2016, John, who is now 70, and his eldest daughter Clare Jackson, 42, bought a delicatessen in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. A year later, they rebranded as a specialist cheese-seller called Slate and bought another premises in nearby Southwold.
The two stores, along with their online shop – slatecheese.co.uk – now turn over £525,000 a year. John works in the shops every other weekend and for several weeks in the summer, when the seaside towns are at their busiest.
‘For me, the social interaction is so important,’ he says. ‘When you have a busy career, it is difficult to spend as much time as you would like with your family, but now I speak to my daughter several times a day and see my grandchildren all the time — that is a real luxury I can enjoy.’
Top tip: Join forces with a younger family member to share skills and knowledge. Your combined experience will make your business all the stronger.
Our blog tops up our pensions
Old friends Annabel Simons, 60 (above left), and Grace Carnegie-Brown, 66 (right), left TV and management jobs in London and they now run a blog about rural life
When old friends Annabel Simons, 60, and Grace Carnegie-Brown, 66, left TV and management jobs in London to move to the country, they began emailing funny stories to friends to keep in touch.
Their anecdotes were so popular the pair decided to launch countrywives.co.uk — a blog about rural life. It now has 750,000 readers, and advertisers such as M&S and JD Williams pay to promote their products on the site.
Working from their homes in Henley-on-Thames and West Sussex, Annabel and Grace make enough to pay themselves a small salary alongside their pensions.
‘It was just a hobby, but it’s turned into a business,’ says Annabel, a mother of four. ‘Our age group is nervous about shopping online, so we try products we recommend to make sure they are suitable for older women’.
Top tip: Define your niche. ‘Our blog is successful because we know our readership and tailor articles, fashion tips and recipe ideas to match their tastes.’
Frank McKenzie has loved rifling through car boot sales ever since he was a boy
Jumble sales made me millions
Frank McKenzie has loved rifling through car boot sales ever since he was a boy. But the retired accountant, 61, has now turned his knack for spotting valuable antiques into a multi-million-pound business.
With a young family to support, Frank initially pursued a career in finance. Then, in the early 2000s, as the internet emerged, he started buying and selling trinkets online.
‘The web gave me access to amazing finds from around the world — it was taking the jumble sale of the Seventies and recreating it for the 21st century,’ he says.
And when he sold a brass inkwell he had bought for £40 in an antiques shop for £2,650 on eBay, Frank knew he was on to something. So he decided to take a step back from accountancy and went into business with his eldest son, Joe, who had started restoring and selling vintage watches.
The pair began dealing in art, antiques and jewellery from Frank’s garage, before getting offices in Hertfordshire. Today, they have a booming online business via their website, xupes.com, 40 staff and last year they turned over £11 million.
Frank says: ‘I don’t think I will ever give up work altogether. A true entrepreneur will never retire because they are always spotting new opportunities.’
Top tip: With a strong website you can sell your products to customers all around the world.
My detective work paid off
Steve Gaskin’s detective company – rightangleevents.co.uk – has now been running for 12 years and turns over around £1.5 million annually. His wife Kate is an employee. Above, the husband and wife team
When Steve Gaskin retired from the police force aged 45, after almost three decades of service, he knew his detective skills must have other uses. He became a maths teacher and the head of education at Norwich Prison – and that’s when the germ of a business plan formed.
‘When you hold a senior role in the police force, you learn how to be a good leader and train others to get the best results,’ says Steve, who is now 62. ‘When you are working on a crime investigation, it involves a lot of team effort and cooperation.
‘I thought that detective-themed team-building events could be a great way for businesses to help their staff work better together.’
His company – rightangleevents.co.uk – has now been running for 12 years and turns over around £1.5 million annually. It employs 30 staff, including Steve’s wife, Kate. In one popular scenario, company staff work together to rescue their chief executive who has been ‘kidnapped’. In another, they must join forces as forensic crime-scene investigators to solve a murder.
Top tip: Understand what core skills you have built up in your career and how they might apply to other roles.
I left the city for my garden
After leaving her role as chief executive of a City recruitment firm, Elizabeth Jackson turned her hand to a flower farming business that is blooming year on year
After leaving her role as chief executive of a City recruitment firm, Elizabeth Jackson was only too happy to swap her high heels for Wellington boots.
The 57-year-old, who lives in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, has now turned her hand to a flower farming business that is blooming year on year. ‘I loved my job, but had got to a point where I wanted to spend more time at home with my husband, David, and do something different.
‘I’m lucky enough to have a two-acre garden, so that’s how flowers fromthegarden.co.uk was born. I find gardening technically challenging and intellectually demanding, and seeing the end result is wonderful.’
Elizabeth grows sweet peas, dahlias, peonies, roses and tulips to sell to florists and farm shops. She aims to help reduce air-miles by keeping everything local. Making lots of money was not Elizabeth’s priority after leaving her well-paid job, but she covers her costs and runs the business as a not-for-profit.
Top tip: Take inspiration and advice on how to set up a new career when you leave your full-time job from next-up.com.
Bees gave me sweet success
Simon Cavill has created a successful, natural, honey-based skincare range which is stocked in Waitrose and sold online from his website beegood.co.uk
From designing banking technology to creating a home for bees, a lot has changed since Simon Cavill retired 11 years ago. The 58-year-old, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, has created a successful, natural, honey-based skincare range which is stocked in Waitrose and sold online from his website beegood.co.uk.
‘Technology can be a stressful and aggressive industry to work in, and my bee-keeping hobby was what kept me sane,’ he says.
Simon and his wife, Caroline, spent hours reading centuries- old beekeeping books and came across a recipe to make cosmetics using honey.
‘That’s how everything started,’ says Simon. ‘We made lip balms and hand creams to sell at local fairs. But it wasn’t until I took early retirement in 2008 that the business really got going.
‘We put our hearts and souls into it and it started to pay off. What makes our range so popular is that we use only British products, which are hard to come by. We work with British farmers across the country and have almost 300 hives.’
Top tip: Test out the demand for your product by starting small. Listen to feedback from your early customers and use this to improve your brand.