Third age self-employment: A business assistance perspective

Document Type

Journal Article


Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.


Faculty of Business and Law


Faculty Office (FBL) / Small and Medium Enterprise Research Centre




This article was originally published as: Lewis, K., & Walker, E. A. (2013). Third age self-employment: A business assistance perspective. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 20(2), 399-419. Original article available here


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the self-employment experiences of a group of "third age entrepreneurs" from a business assistance perspective. As well as examining what sources of business assistance are utilised, and what influences such decisions, methods of access and perceived impact are also considered - as are the reasons for non-use. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is based on data from in-depth interviews with 14 individuals who entered self-employment when they were 50 years of age or older. Findings: The findings from the interviews suggest that there is limited engagement by these older entrepreneurs with the business support infrastructure. Interactions tend to be with a limited number of trusted professionals with whom relationships are already established. There is a lack of demand for initiatives, targeted or otherwise, and a desire to remain independent and self-reliant. Research limitations/implications: The paper reports on a small-scale qualitative study, and therefore the results are not generalisable. Originality/value: The paper make a contribution to the small, but critical, knowledge base focused on better understanding third age entrepreneurship. Specifically, it is one of few studies to explore the phenomenon from a support infrastructure perspective.