Going into business is an increasingly attractive option for the over-50s. NIGEL JARRETT speaks to a few people who are giving it a go -- with some initial help

ROY and Sue Williams spent most of their working lives as managers with a particular aptitude for training others in employee skills.

Now retired, they have set up a company to pass on that knowledge and hope to make enough money from it to keep them financially comfortable and contented.

The couple, from Malpas in Newport, enlisted the help of Prime Cymru, the body set up to help the over-50s set up in business.

Their appointed mentor and adviser, Keith Jones, has introduced them to the formal mysteries of self-employment and will be monitoring their progress and responding to calls for further help and advice.

Roy, aged 60, retired as UK learning and development advisor for one of the country's biggest jewellery groups. Sue, 55, used to manage a care home, where she won Investors in People awards and is a qualified NVQ assessor and verifier.

"I always wanted to be my own boss," Roy said. "But I need to know the nuts and bolts of what to do. We don't want to be millionaires. Yes, it's to supplement our income but it's also to provide us with something challenging in the next five years.

"We are both 'people people'. Through my previous employment I had the opportunity to help others throughout the country and Sue has been in a business motivated by Christian beliefs."

In selling their expertise through their company, RSW Associates, it is likely to be relatively easier for Sue because she will be dealing with the health and care sector, something not prone to the vagaries of economics. In fact, she is already committed to carrying out work for one company. "But we haven't got to live with the demand," she said. "It is something we can do without the pressure."

Roy is carrying out contract work with his own company but will also be seeking more business.

"I believe there is work out there as long as you are prepared to go and look for it," he said. "I am not necessarily restricting myself to retail because I have done so much management and development training."

The couple also have domestic commitments and, for Sue particularly, it will mean balancing these with her existing contract and other opportunities.

But their lives will not depend on the success of the business and they will still enjoy their 'retirement', especially as active members of their local church, Malpas Road Evangelical.

Nor will the husband-wife set up be a source of conflict, as they have both been involved in each other's workplace.

Keith Jones said Prime Cymru clients needed to know the basic requirements of business.

"Sue and Roy are fully qualified in the subject-matter they are going to sell but they need to know the structure and the starting-point of the business, from the point of view of tax, National Insurance and that kind of thing," he said.

"Part of my brief is to find out from the client that it is something they really want to do and to make sure they are doing it for the right reasons.

"Sometimes I have to play devil's advocate to see if the business is viable. In this case, it's a joint effort and they are both committed to it."