Recent studies have shown that more and more new business owners are coming from an older age demographic. So, proving it’s never too late to follow a dream, here are some of the world’s most successful late bloomer entrepreneurs who founded their most successful businesses – and made their millions – later on in life.
The creator of KFC chicken had something of a rocky start to life, developing his cooking skills from a young age in his mother’s frequent absence. As a young man, he was never able to settle into a job, moving between roles as a farmer, a roadside fireman, lawyer, and steamboat operator to name just a few. Food and the service industry appeared to be at his core and he set up a service station with the woman who would go on to become his second wife.
At age 65 he sold his first restaurant and began focusing on his fried chicken recipe, with the aim of making it a franchise. At the age of 73, he sold KFC for $2million.
One of America’s most well-known business personalities, Martha Stewart is a serial lifestyle entrepreneur, who has taken her brand into publishing, broadcasting, e-commerce and merchandising. While studying architectural history at college she did some modelling for Chanel, but actually started her career as a stockbroker.
However, discovering she has skill and passion for cookery, she set up a catering home business. This led to a book deal with a major New York publisher in 1982. From there, her star grew with several more books, articles and television appearances.
Then came Martha Stewart Living Magazine, where she was editor in chief, and the creation of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1999 and made Stewart a billionaire. As well as the highs she has bounced back from some considerable lows, most notably when she was convicted of felony charges relating to stock trading fraud in 2004. After serving a prison sentence she clawed her way back to success and into public affections again, in particular catching people off guard with her new show featuring Snoop Dogg.
It might be hard to imagine British punk icon Dame Vivienne Westwood as a primary school teacher, but that’s exactly what she seemed destined to be doing (while making jewellery on the side) before a meeting with the Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren that would lead to her being propelled into the fashion design world.
From 1971 MacLaren’s King’s Road boutique (now World’s End) was filled with Westwood’s designs, and she became known as an architect of punk fashion, but her retail company Vivienne Westwood Srl wasn’t founded until 1988. Westwood has stayed true to her punk roots throughout her career, and has even broken the mould by encouraging consumers to buy less clothing; she strongly advocates against fast fashion and consumer culture, and advocates for a number of environmental causes.
Now worth $3.2billion according to Forbes, Hoffman’s social media career began with a failure: his first major venture was a dating site called SocialNet, which was quickly consigned to internet history. Founded in 1997, it just tried to do a bit too much – as well as promising to improve your romantic prospects, it had a professional network, roommate finder and even helped match you to the ideal tennis partner! Hard to understand why that one never took off…
It may have been doomed from the start but Hoffman seized on the professional networking aspect and co-founded LinkedIn at the age of 35, and the site now has around half a billion active users.