Member Spotlight: Gareth Oakley - Workplace
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Member Spotlight: Gareth Oakley

Author since:
October, 2015
93 blog posts

This week we talk to Gareth Oakley, of GO! Gareth is a Business Development & Client Relationship Director with 15+ years of delivering solutions into the UK’s Tech, Marketing, Advertising & Digital communities.

Describe your business in fewer than 15 words

GO! are the experts in New Business Transformation for the UK’s Creative, Marketing, Digital & Ad-Tech communities.

What inspired you to start/join your company?

We saw a problem and knew we had the skills, network and processes to provide a solution.

Our clients are fantastic ‘ideas factories’ run by leaders with outstanding technical and creative minds – what we provide is the model and audience to enable them to fast track their growth and realise their commercial ambitions.

What’s the best thing about being your own boss? (if applicable)

Knowing that ultimately you are responsible. Some may be burdened by that but I find it empowering.

Where’s your favourite place for lunch?

Katsouris – Day-Day

San Carlo – Entertaining or special occasion

What’s your favourite business app, tool or website?

The Quickbooks accounting app is great and very user friendly. OneNote (Microsoft 365) is something I use daily to make sense and give order to all the advice, learnings, contacts and follow ups that could otherwise swamp you.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given? (optional)

Its built into our social media presence –  #everydaycounts

What’s the one thing people should come to you for advice about?

The foundations for consistently attracting and retaining new clients.

How can people learn more about what you’re doing?

Up Next

Older-preneurialship – the new start-up generation.

Author since:
October, 2015
93 blog posts

The new start-up generation is older, wiser and comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience.  It is reported that any of us starting a business aged between 45 and 60 are 53% more likely to succeed than someone younger.

Did you know?

Raymond Kroc founder of McDonalds was 52 when he started the company

John Pemberton founder of Coca Cola was 55 when he formed the company

Colonel Saunders founder of KFC was 65 when he started the company

Start-up Statistics

There were 4.8m self-employed people in the UK at the end of 2016 according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) information –  up from 3.8m in 2008. This is 15.1% of the total workforce.  The ONS states that the increase is driven by  people as a start-up  individual or with a business partner rather than employing other people.  In the North West self-employed people made up 11.9% of the total work force.  Studying this information, you will see that people aged over 50 account for 43 % of those who start-up their own business.

Many of us  will live longer than the generation before.    We either  need or want to stay in employment longer.  Staying engaged with life, to many people means staying in employment.

Age discrimination in the workplace

Whether we like it or not , there is a fair amount of age discrimination in the workplace.  If you are mid-thirties and responsible for recruitment you can  think someone of 55 is ancient.  You may also feel that you want someone who you think is on the up curve of their career.  At your age you don’t expect someone who is over 50 to fit that criteria.  At 50  we still have at least another 20 plus years to give to a career, so this is obviously a very wrong assumption.

Well documented is that many of us in industries such as finance, HR and retail feel that we are overlooked after 50.  If we are made redundant we find it hard to get a position of a similar level.  This happened to John Lithgow who was a senior adviser with one for the UK’s top banks.  Based out of a Regional office in Manchester  at 58 he was made redundant, finding himself as he says “unemployable”.

“I could not secure even an interview for the jobs I was interested in…”

“It was not much of a shock when I was made redundant at 58, I felt that I had kept my position longer than many others. With all the changes in banking nobody at any age was safe.  What did come as a shock was how impossible it was to even secure an interview for the type  of jobs I wanted to do.    I still had lots of energy and enthusiasm for my career.  I didn’t feel ready to take a step or several steps back form the positions  I  had held in the past.  After about a year of trying to get work, I knew that for my own mental state I had to take a different direction.  I sat down with a note pad and a list of contacts and looked to start-up my  self-employed life as a  business adviser.  My start-up story started 8 years ago.  At 67 I am still working hard, loving life and loving working for myself “.

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New found freedom and wealth helps start-up figures

For these same reasons many over 50’s are using their vast amount of experience, energy and new-found freedom from looking after children to start-up a business.  We are being overlooked by many companies.  Companies are too short-sighted to see the advantages of employing someone in a top position with this amount of experience and commitment.

The change in pension rules have also made it possible to access retirement funds from the age of 55.  This means some of us can access valuable lump sums.  We can even borrow against the value of a pension to fund a new venture.  Others have started businesses with redundancy payments.  This is also the age when inheritances may give the opportunity to use this cash to start a business.  Having cash can also lead to franchise opportunities and buying into a ready-made business to operate in your area.

Julie Potter is a prime example of this.

“Pitching myself against a 30 year old was exhausting”

“I had worked in the Hotel industry for 35 years and found my experience and pace counted for little against a 30-year-old when I was going for interviews.  It is often said that the Hotel industry is a “Young Man’s Game”.   I  felt I had lots to offer but it became exhausting trying to pitch myself against a bright young thing.  At 51, when I was made redundant I was totally jaded by the whole experience.  I still had a lot of working life to go and needed to earn a reasonable salary to maintain the life style I had achieved.  Going to a franchise exhibition set me on the track to owning my own frozen food franchise and shop.  It has been very hard and a little scary at times.  The benefit of a franchise for me was having the Head Office support which was invaluable.  It is not in the franchisers interest for you not to succeed and they did everything to make sure I achieved the success I now have”

Support is available to start-up a business

One of the areas that may hold us back from going it alone is confidence.  There is plenty of support both financially and in training, out there to make sure the transition is smooth.  Particularly in Greater Manchester  were the Business Growth Hub is based.   They are on the ball in picking up anyone who is looking to start a business and guiding you through the funding options and free training available to fill the skills gaps they may have.

Another thing that can make people wary is that they really don’t want to feel isolated and crave the community they had at work.  Loneliness is the worst part for many start ups.  Marion Stuart was one of these people.

“I went from a busy office to being a freelance Executive PA and thought it would be great as I would have clients to talk to.  After about 6 months I had only a few clients and once they had given me their work – mostly via emails. I had little communication with anyone other than the cat.  This is when I was introduced to a shared office space.  I looked around at what was on offer.  It scared me away very quickly as I was intimidated by how young everyone was – I am 53.  A friend then took me to The Clubhouse in London and although it had a cost it worked so well for me.  I felt comfortable, looked after, and mixed with people of my  level of experience.  I also managed to pick up a lot of clients.  It is amazing how people in the same position as me  starting it alone needed my services to keep their business in order.”

New generation of coworking space – designed with you in mind

Look around your area at what is available, there really is a new generation of coworking.  It is not all pool tables and beer taps and is aimed at an executive level co-worker.  Here at Workplace in Manchester the service and standard of venue is at an executive level and there is always a friendly ear to help and support.  You can chat around the coffee machine which you didn’t think you would miss, but that you realise is part of the energy of work.

If you are looking at starting your own business, there are many resources out there to help and support.  It is surprising  the skills that we have that can be turned in to a profitable business  From PA services, bookkeeping, legal services, recruitment to business consultancy, sales, financing, pensions, travel agent, cake baking, it is all out there for the taking.

Want to come and see what all the talk is about? Try Workplace for a day.  Click Here to secure a free day pass.

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