“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the unsuccessful ones, is pure perseverance.” (Steve Jobs)
This bring us to the questions, is it ever too late to start your own business? Are there sociological restrictions to being successful post a certain age? Who is restricting us? Are we are own biggest critics?
We are constantly surrounded by ideologies that innately shape our lives both personally and professionally. With this comes, perceptions of when intrinsic milestones in our life should take place, which we ratify by creating conceptual realities.
In doing so, we as human’s confine ourselves into ‘doing things’ when they ‘should be done.’ Societal norms surround us on a daily basis via media representation, through peer perceptions and philosophies. This is further aided when we see companies such as Snapchat, taking the technology sector by storm with their innovative solutions to millennial matters. However, in a world where millennials only represent a fraction of society are we limiting ourselves purely because of demographical elements such as age?
Success as we know, holds no boundaries. As entrepreneurs around the world come up with innovative solutions and develop market leading products and services, there is always a competitor who will launch a more dynamic product/service, hence complacency being seen as one of the biggest elements of failure. Successful businesses are built on a foundation of perseverance, on the notion of never giving up and with the view that “winners never quit and quitters never win.”
Some of the most successful companies have been founded by individuals who have gained industry experience and knowledge, which have been learnt ‘on the job.’ This has allowed them to invest their skill and passion mixed with entrepreneurial flair to later lead billion dollar businesses. For example, Vera Wang who is a renowned fashion designer worked as a Senior Fashion Editor for Vogue in the 70s, before moving onto work at Ralph Lauren, where she perfected her art and skill to later set-up her own company ‘Vera Wang’ in 1990 at the age of 41.
Vera Wang has since turned what began as a single bridal boutique into a fashion and lifestyle empire with an overall retail value of over $1 billion. Here we have a billion dollar business, set up by a founder in their 40’s who had colossal passion and perseverance.
Vera Wang isn’t alone, some of the most successful businesses that have been found by entrepreneurs who believed it’s never too late include1:
- WhatsApp (valued at $19 billion) founded by Jan Koum at the age of 35
- Intel (valued at $55 billion) founded by Robert Noyce at the age of 41
- Sam Walton started Wal-Mart (valued at over $250 billion) when he was 44
- McDonald’s (valued at $28 billion) was found by Ray Kroc at the age of 52
- Wikipedia (valued at approx. $12 billion) founded by Jimmy Wales at the age of 35
- At the age of 55, John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola (valued at $79 billion)
- Charles Flint launched IBM (valued at $214 billion) at 61.
- Harland Sanders set-up KFC at 65 (valued at approx. $23 billion) and his facial illustration still represents the brand today.
This highlights some of the most successful businesses of our time, which were found by tenacious entrepreneurs who never gave up and never let ideologies restrict their hunger for success. Another great example of perseverance is highlighted by Howard Schultz who found Starbucks, Schultz was turned down by banks 242 times and attributes the struggle to his winning idea which now sees Starbucks located in every city around the world.
A study funded by the Kauffman Foundation2, surveyed 500 successful high growth founders. It found that the typical successful founder was 40 years old, with at least 6-10 years of industry experience. Twice as many successful entrepreneurs were over 50 as under 25.
It found that mature adults bring experience to the table which further aids them in the decision making process, whereas fresh graduates bring innovative solutions which at times don’t have the level of ‘test proof’ methodologies as mature founders.
Some founders have been known to use their retirement funds to invest into their long standing business idea, this not only allows them to see their concept come to fruition but financially it can be exceptionally rewarding if done with passion and determination.
The above further highlights, that as individuals we shouldn’t let ideologies allow our aspirations to fade into the distance and that there is never the wrong time to pursue a vested business interest with sociological ‘norms’ and ageist barriers fast becoming a thing of the past.
Those who succeed believe that it is never too late to have a winning idea – what might seem like a personal passion today could be the route to a future million dollar business, if you never give up.
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” (George Eliot)