Is Entrepreneurship a viable option later in life?

When asked whether age is a determining factor in achieving success, many will answer with a resounding, yes, especially when the age in question is past 40, and even more if past 50 or 60. The same is true when the question is about starting a business – or anything new, for that matter.

In research conducted by MIT professor Pierre Azoulay the average age of individuals who founded companies between 2007 and 2014 was around 40 years old. His research was based upon analyzing over 2.7 million company founders. That’s a huge number to ensure accuracy in his findings.

Further, Azoulay discovered that a founder at age 50 is approximately twice as likely to experience a “successful exit” compared to a founder at age 30. A successful exit meaning their company gets acquired or goes public.

So despite the success of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and many others who founded companies in their teens and twenties, those are the exceptions, rather than the norm.

Let’s take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum and highlight those that achieved success later on in life:

Vera Wang

Before creating runway clothing and wedding dresses, Vera Wang was a figure skater and a journalist. She did not enter the fashion industry until she was 40 years old. As one of the most famous designers today, it’s hard to imagine Vera Wang doing anything but building her fashion empire. It just goes to show that it’s never too late to change careers, or to chase a passion.

Ray Kroc

After spending his career as a milkshake-device salesman, Ray Kroc, already in his 50’s, founded the McDonald’s System, Inc. in 1955, a predecessor of the McDonald’s Corporation. Six years later, he bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald’s name and operating system. He is credited with turning McDonald’s into the most successful fast food corporation in the world.

Julia Childs

An American cooking teacher, author, and television personality, Julia Childs is recognized for bringing French cuisine to the American public with her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her subsequent television programs. After working many years in media and advertising, Childs learned how to cook as a hobby. She publish her first cookbook when she was 50 years old.

Harland Sanders

After holding a number of jobs in his early life, such as steam engine stoker, insurance salesman, and filling station operator, Harland Sanders began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Kentucky during the Great Depression. Despite closing his business, Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders, franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1952 at the age of 62. He sold the franchise business for $2 million 12 years later.

If interested in learning who else achieved success later in life, check out the article, 28 people who became highly successful after age 40. I’m sure you’ll find it quite interesting!

According to AARP, the three top sectors older entrepreneurs go into are business services, food/restaurant and health/beauty/fitness, followed by general retail and automotive. No matter where they choose to start their businesses, entrepreneurs 50 and older have a lifetime of experience they can leverage to get started. reports, If you’re retired or will be retiring soon, there are many ways in which you can become a franchisee. You can open a location, you can work part-time, you can invest or start a brand with others, etc. You can be hands-on working full-time, or you can stay in the back and watch your bank account grow. There are many options as to how you can become a franchisee, and that’s half the fun of it. There’s not a one-size-fits-all, but ways in which you can adapt to what meets your preferences and needs. 

Whether a franchise or an independent business, whether an acquisition or startup, entrepreneurship is a viable option for many individuals who believe they still have what it takes to succeed. Entrepreneurship is an excellent path to achieving that success. Albeit, success is not guaranteed. So, despite years of wisdom and experience, it’s still important and essential due diligence be performed to the highest level possible.

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Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!