When people think of startup founders, they tend to think of millennials with Mac Book pros, a high-tech idea, and a healthy dose of venture capital funding.
Most people don’t often think of entrepreneurs as people in their sixties, who’ve been out of the professional world for over 25 years and who one day decide to take a leap into business ownership for the first time.
But, that’s exactly what Margaret Bailey, director and founder of Bailey’s Artisan Gelato, has done. Based in Chichester, the authentic Italian gelateria opened its doors in summer 2017 and already employees six people.
Here, Bailey tells Business Advice why her life experience has set her up perfectly for the startup environment, how her gelateria has given her a renewed sense if purpose and why your sixties may be the perfect age to take the entrepreneurial plunge.
Despite having spent the last few decades caring for family members, both young and old, and playing an active role in the local community, a chance encounter with some delicious ice cream during a holiday to Italy sparked an entrepreneurial idea which Bailey felt compelled to pursue.
A course at a prestigious Italian gelato university, and many nights poring over business plans later, and Bailey and her husband finally opened the doors to Bailey’s Artisan Gelato in Chichester.
“’Olderpreneurs’, as the media like to term us, are a rare breed,” Bailey told Business Advice. “The boundless optimism, energy and lack of responsibilities that the young enjoy make them ripe for startup life.
“This demographically skewed view of who an entrepreneur is means that older people, many of whom have experience, confidence and resilience in spades, are often put off launching something later in life. But, I want my experience of starting a new business in my sixties to be an example of how your older years can be the perfect time to become an entrepreneur.
“As fulfilling as my years out of official employment were, I was beginning to crave a different kind of purpose. I wanted a challenge – something that I could throw myself into whole-heartedly.
“Discovering gelato and seeing that there was a gap in my local area for a business serving authentic treats and dishes inspired me to start a new business in my sixties, and I am proud to say that my years of experience have only ever proven themselves useful as we have worked to develop our brand.
“With maturity comes a certain refinement in taste which is sure to benefit a business of any kind, helping it stand apart from competitors’ offerings as well as stand the test of time. Our product range, for example, is carefully designed and made with a discerning customer in mind that is not too different from myself.
“I don’t cut corners and I make sure everything is done to a high standard, because I know that throughout my life this is something that I have appreciated. I wanted to start a new business in my sixties that truly reflected the tastes that I have refined over the years, and the confidence I now have in my convictions has meant that I have done just that.
“I know that my commitment to quality and attention to detail is valued by my customers and is not always found elsewhere. My life experiences have therefore directly bettered my judgement to launch a new business in my sixties.
“Having said that, becoming an entrepreneur has certainly been a steep learning curve so far, and not without its moments of self-doubt.
“From finding the perfect site and ensuring we have the right equipment to churn authentic gelato, to hiring a skilled team and marketing ourselves to the local community, there’s been a huge amount to upskill on.
“Having the legs of our cafeteria’s tables arrive a few days before the opening without the table-tops was particularly concerning, but we pulled through and the launch was a success!
“The business has given me a sense of drive and purpose that I haven’t felt in many years, and breeds an incredible amount of productive creative thinking.
“Starting the business has confirmed that as humans. we never stop learning. And with this knowledge has come a firm belief in the human capacity to adapt to new challenges and acquire new skills at all stages of life.
“We have big ambitions for Baileys, and want to become a landmark destination within the local community. We want to continue to grow, getting to know our customers and employing young people from the local area. As for expansion? Who knows! Anything is possible, especially at this age.
“It’s never too late to launch a business and to make that dream you’ve always harboured a reality. Age is but a number and, if anything, with age comes the kind of life experience that will help you handle the challenges that a new business venture will throw at you.
“I would encourage everyone that gets the opportunity to seize it, launch it, and see for yourself how entrepreneurial success has no age limit.”
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