Older people are being hit harder than any other age group, with nearly 200,000 dropping out of the workforce since the Covid-19 outbreak, according to research from RestLess.co.uk, which offers job searches and advice for the over-50s. Founder Stuart Lewis said many more over-50s remain on furlough and could lose their jobs in the next few months: “We have yet to see the true impact of the pandemic.”
If you are worried, one option is to join the growing number of Britons who are setting up a “side hustle”, using a hobby, skill or talent to generate extra cash.
One in three are already generating income at home after being put on furlough or made redundant, to help pay the bills during the pandemic.
Some are selling clothes and homeware items on sites such as eBay, others are trying their hand at social media marketing, offering services such as online teaching, blogging or copywriting, according to research from Hillarys.co.uk.
Childcare, deliveries, dog walking, consulting and freelancing, or hiring out your admin or accountancy skills are other ways to earn money.
The number of over-50s signing up to online educational courses has jumped five-fold in the pandemic, Shaw Academy reports, and chief executive James Egan said many are looking to improve workplace skills in areas such as photography, Photoshop and graphic design, and interior design.
This could be your chance to rethink your career and become more entrepreneurial. “You could turn your hobby or side business into a full-time job,” Egan said.
Setting up a new business from scratch may seem daunting but you could make the process easier by franchising instead.
Rune Sovndahl, founder of franchising specialist Fantastic Services, said this removes a lot of the risk in becoming an entrepreneur as you can start a business in a thriving industry under a recognised brand with a guaranteed customer base right from the start.
His franchising platform JoinFantastic.com offers a range of opportunities in areas such as cleaning, gardening, pest control and removals, as well as handyman, electrical and plumbing work: “This could be a good way to use your existing knowledge and interests.”
Wilbert Reid has a franchise that offers home improvement services
Amanda Hill works for Avon which is providing a ‘financial lifeline’
You do not have to be, say, a plumber or electrician yourself: “If you have management skills, you could set up a master franchise, recruit the right tradespeople and put them to work. What you need most is enthusiasm.”
Sovndahl said a good franchising platform will use its marketing and digital skills to promote your business and find customers, but under your own brand: “We offer our partners help with accounting, customer service, and computer systems. This way, you are in business for yourself but not by yourself.”
You have to buy into a franchise, with the cheapest starting at £1,500 but others cost £15,000 or more, and pay a percentage of revenues, depending on which support services you use.
Wilbert Reid, 59, from Surrey, bought a master franchise from Fantastic Services at the beginning of the year and now runs a gardening and jet washing business with his son.
The franchise gives him the right to do every job that pops up in 38 postcode districts in the South-East, or sell smaller franchises in his target area.
Wilbert said: “I’ve started businesses before and you have to throw a huge amount of money at everything. With a franchise there is a big, successful machine behind you, which you could never replicate on your own.”
Launching your own business could provide more security during the pandemic
After paying an upfront fee, everyday admin is done for you: “I don’t need to worry about booking jobs, office overheads, marketing or advertising, this all comes through the Fantastic Services platform.”
Enquiries are picking up: “It won’t happen overnight but that’s the nature of running a business. You have to accept a few sleepless nights.
Direct selling is another option, especially as this can now be done online, with door-to-door sales on hold because of the lockdown.
Amanda Hill, 51, from Enfield, said the income she earns as a representative for beauty firm Avon is proving a financial lifeline after her e-commerce consulting venture iDiva was hit by the pandemic.
She has earned more than £6,000 from digital product sales since March: “I used my e-commerce and social media skills to identify new customers and recruits and make the most of working remotely.”
With retail jobs being axed during the lockdown, Avon has seen the number of new representatives double and Amanda said: “A simple, fun hobby has become a true second venture for me.”
Losing your job does not mean the end of your working life but could be the start of a bright new opportunity.