You’re Never Too Old to Start a Successful Business

start a successful business

Think you’re too old to start a business? Think again.

Mark Zuckerberg may have started Facebook at 19, but he’s in the minority of entrepreneurs. Through the years, there have been plenty of successful people in business and other endeavors who didn’t get started until a bit later.

Funders and Founders recently shared an infographic outlining late bloomers who displayed proficiency in a variety of fields showing that great achievements don’t always happen at a young age. Among these are J.K. Rowling, who taught school until age 23. Vincent Van Gogh, who didn’t paint until 27. And Martha Stewart, who didn’t get into home decorating until 35.

Entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg might have the crazy ideas and youthful energy it takes to be successful, but experience matters too. Just because someone finds success later than his or her peers doesn’t make them less successful overall.

In the Funders and Founders research, Information Designer and Infographic Author Anna Vital shares some of the reasons some successful people might have bloomed later than others.

For example:

  • Painter Paul Cezanne’s father protested his son’s plan to study art, which likely delayed his education as an artist.
  • English writer Joseph Conrad didn’t even live in an English-speaking country as a child, so geography prevented him from starting earlier.
  • Actor Sylvester Stallone didn’t get started as a film actor earlier for financial reasons. He instead had to take adult film roles in order to catch up on his bills.
  • LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Stewart and chef/TV personality Julia Child all originally worked in industries other than those where they eventually found success.
  • Marathon runner Fauja Singh didn’t even know what a marathon was until age 89.

Vital writes:

“Learning something late in life might sound like a bad deal if you compare yourself to all the young talented folk. Understandable. The catch is that doing something earlier does not necessarily make you better at it than if you did it later.”

start a successful business

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Image: Funders and Founders

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

10 Reactions
  1. Thanks for this post. I mostly think age doesn’t play a factor in following one’s dreams/interests. Rather, it’s what we tell ourselves or what others tell us that can get in the way.

    I didn’t think a 20 year old was considered a late bloomer, or anyone under 30. Guess I was wrong. Inspiring nonetheless, so thanks.

    • I think for a lot of these the age is based on when they actually started pursuing their field of expertise, compared with when other people around the same time period would have done so. But I agree, sometimes our own fears can get in the way more than actual obstacles regarding age.

  2. It gives me hope, I postponed my dreams to raise my kids and help with grandkids and in between had a career. Now, I must postpone a bit longer to take care of my health, but I have plans for my future.

    • Oh Patsy, I hope you get to do for you and you have a wonderful time doing that. It’s your time. x

    • Yes, good luck! It’s great to see other people who may have faced similar obstacles but who have been able to succeed regardless.

  3. I have talked with lots of seniors and it surprises me to see how many of them have the talent for business but they just dismiss it just because they’re too old. But business don’t really have an age limit.

    • Nope, it doesn’t! I hope some of them start to realize that and actually follow their dreams and ambitions.

  4. Of course you;re never too old to start a new business or to write a book or even to take up tennis. Need proof? Hangout with your grandparents and ask them what’s on their mind, what do they want to see, how would they change the world?

    Sure, it can take a lot of physical energy, a lot of mental energy and sometimes a big pile of money to create a successful new business venture. But the initial idea, the spark can come from anyone regardless of age.