These 50+ Year Old Entrepreneurs Will Make You Rethink Your Retirement Plan

Rather than living fast and dying young, a surprising number of people are stepping into entrepreneurship in and around the period of their retirement and some post that!

After all, their broad and deep knowledge, management experience, and large professional networks certainly gives them an edge at that age.

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Here are few reports which show why 50+ can be the best age to start a business:

According to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, that surveyed 652 US-born CEOs and heads of product development, “The average and median age of U.S.-born tech founders was 39 when they started their companies. Twice as many were older than 50 as were younger than 25.”

Another study by the Founder Institute found that up to approximately the age of 40, businesses were more likely to succeed as their founders age increased, but that this improvement plateaued at 40.

A research indicates that a 55-year-old and even a 65-year-old have more innovation potential than a 25-year-old.

…And here is what the new age entrepreneurs confess about gaining experience with age:

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings pointed out: “I started Netflix DVD rental when I was 37… and first streaming when I was 47… so maybe not too bad after 35 except that all-nighters are definitely harder.

Jimmy Wales one asked what people in Silicon Valley should do once they’re 35 and officially “over the hill, Wales responded: “I turned 35 the year I founded Wikipedia.  38 the year I founded Wikia (now ranked #30, quantcast).

But, this is not a new phenomenon. The founders of McDonald’s, Coca Cola, and Kentucky Fried Chicken were all over 50 when they established their businesses.

So, if you have reached your half century and are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, here is some inspiration.

Take a look at this list of 25 entrepreneurs who started after the age of 50.

They were all ordinary people like us but they decided to ditch the typical retirement life or quit their not-so-interesting jobs, build their startup ground up, get product market fit and ultimately be their own boss.

If you’re inspired by these entrepreneurs and would like to build your own mobile app startup, we have a detailed guide on how to create an app.

#1 Jim Butenschoen, 65, left the IT industry to start a hair-design academy

After 22 years in corporate sales and marketing, Jim of Springdale, Ark. decided that he’d had enough. He wanted to go into business himself so he spent 5 years researching for the perfect business to buy and decided on a beauty school in Arkansas. He then opened the Career Academy of Hair Design starting with 6 employees.

old age entrepreneurs

Image Source: successstories.guidantfinancial

#2 Rand Smith exited the corporate world to open an optical retail business in his 50s

After working for 30 years in the optical industry, Randal Smith decided to go into business on his own with a trusted partner, his wife, Janeel. Both in their 50s, tapped their retirement funds and opened eyeSmith Sport & Fashion Optical, a high-end optical store in Kansas City, Mo., that sells prescription fashion and sport performance eyewear.

entrepreneurs above 50 years

Image Source: eyesmithoptical

#3 Chris And Susan Beesley started their online business in mid-50’s

These two management consultants and accountants by profession are life partners in real life with 5 children and 3 grandchildren. They started their online business in their mid-50’s when they knew nothing about the online world other than the basics. They started a blog in 2009, a place for online business education helping other entrepreneurs.

50+ entrepreneurs

#4 Ernestine Shepherd, 78, world’s oldest female bodybuilder started at the age of 56

Ernestine started working out when she was 56, thanks to her sister for that inspiration. Today, she takes classes for mostly senior women and older men. She started her classes with just 10 people and now some mornings people can’t get in the room.

people who started business after 50

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#5 Michael Grottola started his consulting firm at the age of 65

Michael Grottola started his consulting business at the age of 65 and today he have helped approximately 165 small business clients across 20 industries. When Michael lost his job due to recession he decided to become an independent consultant, helping new business founders gain access to capital. See our creative fundraising ideas guide if you’re looking to raise money for your startup.

Source: overfiftyandoutofwork

#6 Sam Taylor started an online art business at the age of 63

6 months into retirement and Sam was bored as he missed the buzz of business. After a brief spell as a business angel and directorship roles in Edinburgh he realized the only way he was going to enjoy his later years was to return to self-employment.

He found the business opportunity within his own family. His wife, who was doing textile art became his asset. They bought together Sam’s business experience and his wife’s artistic talent and set up an online art gallery.

old and successful entrepreneurs

#7 Colin King launched an online education business in his 50s

Around 7 years ago, Colin realised there wasn’t enough pension pot so he decided to earn some new money by setting off in a completely new direction.

Colin was aware of the fact that one thing essential for setting up any business in the 21st century is an understanding of how to use technology – something many older people still struggle to embrace, but still he took the risk and launched an online business in 2012, which provides fun, educational quizzes for schoolchildren. It is called Education Quizzes.

how to start a business

Image Source: educationquizzes

#8 Sune Larsson started his business providing serviced offices when he was 50

After a series of meaningless jobs, Sune decided to bet all his chips on making his business idea work. So, he started his serviced offices business around 12 years ago when he was 50.

The 62-year-old said in an interview, “You don’t have any small children at home any more, so you don’t have to sacrifice your time with your family and can concentrate on your business without having a bad conscience. The downside is that you have to keep fit and you can’t be ill. You have to be there and I have to find lots of energy, especially at the startup stage.

best entrepreneurs

#9 Dave Bateman, a retired Colonol from the US Air Force, started his coffee businesshow to launch a startup

David and his wife Trudy moved to Hawaii in 2005 from Washington to start their coffee business.

After a push from a friend David and Trudy got convinced to check out the heavenly Hawaiian coffee farms.

It didn’t take long to make their decision to settle down there and make a business out of it.

After getting the resources in place they started coffee harvesting and soon launched their business, HeavenlyHawaiian.

#10 Charlie Bright, 60, started a bakery business without having any baking skills

business ideasAfter a variety of jobs and few failed businesses this 60-year old entrepreneur was looking for a business opportunity. In 2011, Charlie got to know that a small bakery shop in his area would go out of business soon if no one bought it. He knew nothing about baking but he wanted to start a business. So, soon he made up his mind and announced his intention to buy the small bakery.

He set a goal of doubling his investment in one year, which he almost achieved. Now they are planning to relocate.

#11 Angie Higa, a banker, a grandmother, and an entrepreneur

After 30 years in the banking industry, Angie decided to retire early in 2008 to care for her granddaughter during her eldest daughter military deployment to Afghanistan.

From banker to a stay home grandmother, Angie found the time to do what she always love and that was her love for designing and sewing. Her business idea came to her mind after catching a bad cold on a 7 hour flight because there were no blankets on board the aircraft. And in 2009 she launched her business, the Sky Dreams, travel blanket and matching comfort pillows manufacturing company.

old entrepreneursImage Source: Bizjournals

#12 Lynn Brooks started a free welcome visitor service at 59

top entrepreneursWhen Lynn left an eight-year job she wasn’t enjoying, people thought she is foolish to do so as she won’t get any other job at this age.

She managed to get another job but decided to quit that too within 6 months and founded her venture in 1992.

She realized that almost everyone she met wanted to visit New York City, but some were a little intimidated.

So, she started a servic which pairs visitors to NYC with volunteer ‘Greeters’ who explore the city with them, free of charge. It is called Big Apple Greeter.

Image Source: Forbes

#13 Regina Mason, 54, founder and owner of Virago Baking Company

Regina’s working career has been spent in the food services industry. After coping with several layoffs, Regina knew that she wanted to open her own business. With the help of Women’s Opportunities Resource Center in Philadelphia, Penn., she launched her bakery and café that specializes in natural and organic, gluten free and vegan foods.

Source: overfiftyandoutofwork

#14 Olive Lynch became an entrepreneur at 52

Olive had an eclectic work history — she trained and performed as an opera singer before becoming a business and data analyst for large corporations. When she was laid off for 9 months in 2008, she explored the idea of recycling food waste. She researched new composting technologies and founded her own company.

Source: overfiftyandoutofwork

#15 Lorraine Campman found her career in her passion at the age of 56

Uninspired by office jobs, Lorraine, an independent piano teacher since 1977, attended entrepreneurial training classes offered by Women’s Opportunities Resource Center in 2007. After many ups and downs she finally, started her music center, which teaches group piano to adults.

Source: overfiftyandoutofwork

#16 Cinde Dolphin, 56, when job rejections lead to entrepreneurship

After 24 years as a marketing manager for Coors, Cinde Dolphin knew what was coming — Miller and Coors had just merged their United States beer operations, and hundreds of jobs were sure to be eliminated.

So, Cinde took a buyout. At the age 55, she began applying for marketing jobs but that didn’t work out well. So, she took an alternate track and started a public relations firm that helps winemakers in California.

inspirational old entrepreneurs

Image Source: NYTimes

#17 Norberto Bogard found a business opportunity in his 50s

most successful entrepreneursAround 7 years ago, Norberto lost his job as a reporter for a Spanish-language financial news program that Bloomberg News broadcast in Latin America. His job search yielded just one offer, which would have paid far less than his old job.

After his research, Noberto was amazed that nobody had created a Spanish version for New York.

So he founded Pie Derecho, a free magazine that publishes 10,000 copies a month and relies on advertising for revenue.

Image Source: elmundo

#18 Deborah Ramsey survived layoffs with her entrepreneurial skills at 56

After suffering through a couple of corporate layoffs Deborah became a business founder. In 2008, she opened Natural Wellness and Spa which offers services and products to women and seniors.

Source: overfiftyandoutofwork

#19 Marcia Duhart, creating entrepreneurial solutions after the age of 50

During her final years at Merrill Lynch, where she trained people to use computers, she devoted several days off to testing her idea of teaching computer skills to the elderly. She realised elderly people felt out of the loop when everyone is talking about emails.

After retiring from Merrill Lynch in 1998, she founded CyberSenior Services, teaching at senior centers and giving one-on-one classes for $35 to $45 an hour.

how to become a successful entrepreneur

Image Source: NYTimes

#20 Gerry Fioriglio, a 57-year-old registered nurse, founded her own business

Gerry Fioriglio founded Family Caregivers Network in Pennsburg, Penn. with one employee – herself. Ten years later, the company has 70 employees, who provide home care, community education, caregiver support groups in a five county area.

Gerry, a nurse practitioner, never envisioned herself as entrepreneur before she had been laid off several times by large corporations.

Source: overfiftyandoutofwork

#21 Karen Kelly changed tracks at 55

Karen from Buckinghamshire, always wanted to start her own business and wanted to come out of the travel industry. Once she made up her mind, she used all her savings to set up her domestic cleaning company called Cleanhome, which helps customers find cleaners.

startup ideas

Image Source: stltoday

#22 Radha Daga, 73, founded a food company

indian startupsWhat started as an export garment business eventually led to a food business.

At 73, Radha Daga, founder of Triguni Foods which supplies Magic Upma to Indigo Airlines has shown that age is just a number.

This housewife turned entrepreneur not only manages a 8 crore company but also gives employment to 100s of underprivileged women.

Image Source: Livemint

#23 Lisa Gable founded a business at the age of 70

At an age when many have retired, Lisa Gable got an idea for a business from her own discomfort and years of frustration trying to conceal fallen bra straps during sales presentations. Tired of this annoyance she invented a new kind of bra strap, the Strap-Mate.

women entrepreneurs

Image Source: Inc

#24 Wally Blume, going solo at 62

best startupsWally spent over 20 years in the dairy business, and then he spent a few years creating an ice cream business with some partners.

It eventually had a big hit flavor and Wally decided to go it alone and mortgaged his house to buy out his partners and start Denali Flavors.

The company has eventually had over $85 million in annual sales.

Image Source: darrylkimball

#25 Mary Tennyson started her business at 63

Mary Tennyson came up with her idea after her 92-year-old mother stumbled, fell and broke her hip. Her mother had trouble carrying a bag. So, Mary came up with the idea of a pocketbook that attaches to a walker, which was called StashAll.

age is just a number

Image Source: Bloomberg


It’s not the age, it’s the vision. Starting a company at any age is possible. It’s time we shatter the entrepreneur’s age bias.

After all, age is just a number.

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