There seems to be a common misconception today, particularly among 20-somethings, that if you haven’t made it “big” by the time you’re 30, you’re practically doomed when it comes to finding career happiness. However, the reality is that success doesn’t have an age limit on it and at the end of the day, very often all you need is a great idea and a bucket-full of passion to give you the best chance of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
There seems to be a common misconception today, particularly among 20-somethings, that if you haven’t made it “big” by the time you’re 30, you’re practically doomed when it comes to finding career happiness. However, the reality is that success doesn’t have an age limit on it and at the end of the day, very often all you need is a great idea and a bucket-full of passion to give you the best chance of becoming a successful entrepreneur. We take a look some “late bloomers” who only really came into their own later on in life, yet that didn’t stop them from taking the world by storm – in fact in many ways, it just made the victory that much sweeter.
Vera Wang – Fashion designer
Wang wanted to be a professional figure-skater but when she failed to make the Olympic team, she made her way into the fashion industry. After being promoted to the role of Senior Fashion Editor for Vogue at the age of 23, she went on to hold the position for 15 years, before moving on to become Design Director for accessories at Ralph Lauren. Finding a surprisingly small selection of bridal wear available for her own wedding, Wang ended up sketching her own design and having it tailored by a dressmaker – this marked the start of her fashion designing career. She opened her first bridal boutique, Vera Wang Bridal House Ltd., on Madison Avenue in 1990 with the financial backing of her father – she was 41 years old. Today, Wang is easily the most prominent bridal wear designer in the US, but her repertoire has expanded to include couture, ready-to-wear clothing as well as fragrances.
Ray Kroc – Founder of the McDonald’s Corporation
At the age of 52, after years of selling milkshake mixers, Ray Kroc turned his attention to two brothers who had bought eight of his Multi-Mixers for their drive-through business. Impressed by their set-up and believing that they were on to something great, he became their new franchising agent and opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in Illinois. Business boomed right from the start with Kroc forming more and more franchises across the country, however the McDonald brothers were keen to keep their empire small. Unsatisfied with this, Kroc eventually bought the business from them for $2.7 million, growing it into the fast-food franchise giant it is today.
Grandma Moses – Folk Artist
Anna Mary Robertson Moses had always had many creative hobbies that included quilting and embroidery. She used her talents to decorate her home but it wasn’t until the age of 76 that she began to paint. Embroidery became too painful with her developing arthritis, so she took to the brush, as suggested to her by her sister. She painted scenes of rural life, omitting features of modern life from her landscapes, selling them for $3-$5. Her first solo exhibition took place in 1940 and for the next 20 years, her works were exhibited across America and Europe, many of which were reproduced on fabrics, Hallmark cards and ceramics. She passed away at the ripe-old age of 101 and is remembered as one of America’s most prolific artists. Her highest-selling work fetched an astounding $1.2 million.
Harland Sanders a.k.a Colonel Sanders – Founder of KFC
After hopping from one job to the next for most of his life, from farmer to insurance agent and railroad fireman, Harland Sanders used his first social security cheque to fund his new food-chain venture in 1952: Kentucky Fried Chicken. Originally, Sanders sold his famous fried chicken from the roadside restaurant at his service station, but he soon saw the potential for developing a franchise, opening the first restaurant in Utah. He was 62 years old when he founded the franchise and a mere 12 years later, he sold the hugely successful company for a then-whopping $2 million. Today, KFC is one of the world’s most recognised and beloved fast-food chains, with the Colonel’s name and images still being used as symbols of the business.
These are just a handful of the success stories out there of people who, despite their age, went on to become hugely successful in their chosen fields. So often the key to prosperity and successful entrepreneurship is simply just to do it – it doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old. Sometimes it takes a little longer for you to find your passion or cultivate a brilliant idea, but when all’s said and done, what really matters is that you do something with that passion or idea in the end.
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