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Five Legendary Entrepreneurs that Found Success Later in Life

Recent trends and reports show that millennials don't start new businesses as their baby boomer counterparts. This trend make it seem as though starting a business at a young age is a prerequisite for success. But that’s not true.

Anybody, no matter the age, can start a business. Some have their big ideas earlier in life, while some others find theirs later in life. What matters isn’t when you found your big idea, but rather what you do with that idea. You might imagine that you are past your prime, that it’s too late to start now, but the successes of the five legendary entrepreneurs listed below says otherwise.

It’s never too late to start.

Leo Goodwin, GEICO

Goodwin was an accountant in San Antonio, Texas, but he realised in the 30’s that there was something wrong with insurance. Companies were dealing with customers through brokers, instead of doing it directly and saving the money that go to brokers. And Goodwin wondered why.

At 50, Leo Goodwin couldn’t take it anymore, so he founded the Government Employee’s Insurance Company (GEICO) in Washington, D.C. To run the company, he worked hand-in-hand with his wife, and by the end of 1936, GEICO had employed only 12 people and had 2,700 policies in force. Today, GEICO has grown to become a popular car insurance company with over 27,000 people on staff and 14 million policyholders.

Remember, he started when he was 50 years old.

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn

You have obviously heard of LinkedIn. Everyone who uses social media has heard of it. It’s one of the very few social networks that can stand shoulder to shoulder with Facebook. What you probably don’t know is that, unlike Facebook, LinkedIn wasn’t founded by a youngster. Nope.

Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, was 43 years old when the company went public.

Before that, Hoffman was a Stanford graduate who had a day job and answered to a boss. But it was by working that he learned what he needed to start his own company. When Socialnet, his first attempt at building a social networking site, failed, he joined PayPal, but eventually in 2002 to co-found LinkedIn. Today, LinkedIn is the world’s №1 business- and employment-oriented social networking service

Harland David Sanders, Kentucky Fried Chicken

Colonel Sanders is a great example of why it’s never too late to start your own business. He was more or less a mess during his younger years. Having lost his father at a young age, he had to deal with a stepfather with whom he quarrelled extensively. He got fired from multiple jobs and fought with his own client and thus also losing that job as lawyer.

In spite all all this, he was determined to succeed. He became popular for his appetizing chicken recipe while he was working at a service station in Corbin, Kentucky. When fire destroyed the station, Sanders rebuilt it as a motel and restaurant of 140 seats. And at the age of 62 in 1952, Colonel Sanders began to license his Kentucky Fried Chicken. Currently, KFC is in 118 different countries and territories with over 18,800 outlets.

Robert Noyce, Intel

With a doctorate in physics from MIT, Robert ended up as a research engineer at Beckman Instruments. Eventually, he left Beckman with seven other engineers to found the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation. He had some success with the new venture, but it wasn’t enough for him. He needed more. So once again he left Fairchild, this time, in the company of Gordon Moore, and the two founded Intel.

Yes, that Intel. The one that manufactures microprocessors you find in many systems today. Today, Intel Corporation is one of America’s top multinational corporation and technology company. And Robert Noyce founded it at the age of 41.

Wally Blume, Denali Flavors

Wally Blume thought his 20-year old career was going well, until his boss decided to create tomato-flavored ice cream. He knew immediately that it was time to move on and as far away from his boss’ crazy idea as possible. But he didn’t leave his former employer for another one. No. He decided to build his own ice cream company.

He was in his mid-50s when he launched Denali Flavors, which pulls in around $80 million per year through licensing agreements alone. Today, Denali Flavors have over 40 flavors. That’s including the famous Moose Tracks flavor.

It’s Never Too Late to Start a Business

Building and running a business is never easy. It requires a lot of sweat and discipline. If the saying, the older you get the wiser you become, is true, then older people even have better chances of succeeding in business than their younger counterparts.

The lesson here is that there’s never a right age to start a new business. The aforementioned legendary entrepreneurs were all above 40 years of age when they started their own companies. Their ages deterred neither them nor their successes. If they can do it, you too can. It’s time to stop regretting the mistakes of your past and take control of your future.

Start a business today.

This article also appeared in Macaulay Gidado’s Medium Publication.


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