Fierce over 40: entrepreneurship is not just for yupees

Starting young in business as I did, is great fun and has many advantages (as well as its fair share of disadvantages) but what happens to those who try later in life?

Entreprenurship isn’t exclusivley for the ‘dot com kids’ or the ‘yupees‘ its for the brave and the imaginative. So here’s a selection of those who have done it when they were 40 or over, and many of whom are now millionaires.

Ray Kroc: At the age of 58, he purchased the McDonalds restaurants from his partners, the McDonald brothers. Prior to teaming up with them in the 1950’s, Kroc had tried his hands at many trades, including milkshake maker salesman, paper cup salesman, pianist, jazz musician and a military ambulance driver. It is estimated that he amassed over $500m dollars in his lifetime.

Dave Thomas: founder of Wendy’s, opened his first store in 1969, naming after his daughter. Thomas assisted in Kentucky Fried Chicken after he came out of the Army before opening his own stores.  At the time of his death in 2002, there were over 6000 Wendy’s restaurants operating in North America

Richard Branson: The 52 year old serial entrepreneur is famous for his Virgin companies. Branson had a poor academic record, resulting from his mild dyslexia, but also had no formal business training before starting his first business.

John Paul DeJoria: A former navy man, janitor, insurance salesman, and homeless person, DeJoria is now worth over $4bn thanks to a loan of $700 in the 1980’s that he used to create John Paul Mitchell Systems with hairdresser Paul Mitchell. He now has numerous business interests around the world.

George Eastman: the inventor of the late 1800’s credited for making roll film, and changing the face of photography and motion film forever. As an inventor he had no business acumen but founded the Eastman Kodak Company in 1892. His philosophy of quality is attributed to his success. He is known to have donated over $100m to charitable organisations and places of learning over his lifetime.

Hyman Golden: Born in 1923, served in the US Air Force and has window washer listed as one of his jobs. Hymen founded Unadulterated Food Products in 1972, with some childhood friends, a company focused on health food and juices. The Snapple line that was introduced during the 1980’s led to his company’s worldwide success. He retired in 1995.

Betty James: In 1960, after her husband left her and her 6 children, Betty James, full time house wife, took up the management of her husbands firm. She was 42 at the time. James Industries is famous for creating the Slinky, which Betty is attributed to its naming back in 1943. The company grew from strength to strength under her reign and she was bought out in 1998.

David Ogilvy: it was in 1949, after working as a chef, researcher and farmer and serving in military intelligence during the war, Ogilvy started his own agency “Ogilvy, Benson and Mather”. He went on to be known as the “father of advertising” building one of the biggest advertising firms during his lifetime.

Kirk Kerkorian: In 1968, Kerkorian sold his small airline to Transamerica Corporation for $109m. He had bought it in 1947 for $60000 with the money that he had saved by flying fuel across the Atlantic during the war for the British Air force.  The money from the airline sale helped him buy into MGM. He is now considered the richest man in Los Angeles.

Bruce Kovner: Caxton Associates manages in excess of $10bn in capital. Its humble beginnings started in 1983 when Kovner at almost 40 years of age and a respected trader at Commodities Corporation, left to start his own firm.  He now has an estimated net worth of $2.5bn.


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