In the age of young and upcoming entrepreneurs, kickstarting something brand new can be intimidating for many. It’s easy for your dreams to be cast aside or even thought of as unrealistic. And as the years tick by, the possibilities of reaching those goals and aspirations may seem increasingly out of reach. You may feel as if you’ve missed your window of opportunity. No matter your age, it’s never too late to pursue your dream.
According to a study from the Kauffman Foundation, the average entrepreneur was 39 when he or she started a company. In addition, Americans who are 35 years or older are 50% more likely to start a business than their younger counterparts.
Although there are always going to be risks when stepping away from a safe career, doing so later in life boasts significant assurances. You have more knowledge and experience under your belt, and most likely, you are probably in a much more stable and secure financial position than you were 20 years ago. If anything, there’s no better time than right now.
Here are three examples of successful entrepreneurs who got their start later in life.
1. Vera Wang. Before becoming one of the most successful designers in women’s fashion, Vera Wang was a figure skater and worked as a journalist at Vogue magazine for 17 years. It wasn’t until she was 40 years old that she started her company.
“I had thought, ‘Maybe it’s just too late for me,’” she said. Wang endured numerous unfulfilled ventures, including many attempts to make it to the Olympics and losing out on the editor-in-chief position at Vogue, before her business was born. But now, she has bridal boutiques in London, Tokyo and Sydney, and licensing deals with Zales, Kohl’s and David’s Bridal. Forbes recently reported that Wang’s net worth is estimated to be around $270 million.
2. Leo Goodwin. GEICO is arguably one of the most popular, well-known insurance companies today. However, what many people don’t realize is that it was originally started by an individual named Leo Goodwin in 1936. Standing for the Government Employee’s Insurance Company, Goodwin was 50 when he first founded GEICO.
With the help of his wife Lillian, Goodwin had 12 staff members and 3,700 existing policies by the end of their first year as a company. Currently, GEICO employs over 27,000 people and has over 14 million policyholders.
3. Harland David Sanders. Before becoming known to the public as “Colonel Sanders,” Harland David Sanders struggled to find his way through life. He moved from profession to profession after being fired numerous times and even losing his position as a lawyer.
It was while he was working at a service station in Kentucky that his chicken recipe began to gain traction among the local crowd.
Sanders franchised his very first Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant in 1952 at the age of 62. KFC now has over 18,800 locations in 118 different countries and territories.
You may feel as if you are past the age of beginning a new journey. Keep in mind that many of the businesses and organizations we know and love were originally founded by well-seasoned individuals. On paper, many of those people may have seemed unprepared or even underqualified to be in the line of work they chose. However, they took that first step with faith in their dream, and their bravery was met with great success.
Don’t let your fears or worries about the what-ifs prevent you from pursuing your dreams. Start that business. Create that product. You’ll never know until you try.