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How to Start a Business When You Think You're Too Old

It’s never too late to start a new business.

Don’t believe me?

Here are 10 inspiring stories to prove it.

But first…

No one ever FEELS old. Until…

One day, you wake up, and it hits you:

“Holy sh*t, I’m [insert your age here]! I gotta figure something out now!”

To make things worse…

You hear story after story about some teen making millions.

That’s when you can’t help but wonder:

“Is it too late to start MY business?”

Well, if you think you’re too old to start a business…

Think again.

I’ve always been fascinated with the biographies of famous entrepreneurs. In fact, I don’t read business books. I read biographies. And you’d be surprised…

As it turns out, many entrepreneurs are “late bloomers.” They didn’t start their business until later in life.

And the truth is:

If these people can do it, so can you.

Yes, there are drawbacks to starting a business after 40, 50, or 60…

…but there are also HUGE ADVANTAGES.

You just need figure out what those advantages are – and how to use them.

Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of inspiration. That’s why I wanted to share some of my favorite stories with you here.

All of these people started their business after 40. Some even started in their 50s or 60s.

First, I’d like to tell you about…

Michael Hyatt, who started his online business at age 55

Why would the chairman of a major publishing company decide to launch an online training business?

Well, that’s exactly what my friend Michael Hyatt did. At age 55…

You see, Michael had a very successful career in the publishing industry: He was the CEO and then the chairman of the Thomas Nelson company for 7 years.

Michael had been blogging and writing for a while. But he didn’t launch his own company until 2011.

That’s when he took all his experience from the corporate world to start his own leadership training business…

He became a full-time, accidental teacher. Or as he likes to call it, a virtual mentor.

In the last few years, he’s built a MASSIVE audience through his blog and podcast.


He writes about personal development, leadership, and publishing with one clear goal: Create insightful content to help people get more out of life.

And his success speaks for itself…

Today he’s a New York Times bestselling author. He’s built a loyal following. And he’s created premium products that he sells through his website: e-books, audio courses, video courses, and more.

Remember, he started when he was 55.

Pretty cool!

If he can do it, so can you. I have all the free resources for you here.

Next up, let me tell you about…

Vera Wang (Did you know she didn’t start building her brand until age 39?)

You’ve probably heard her name, but I doubt you know Vera Wang’s full story…

Did she spend her childhood dreaming of becoming a world-famous fashion designer?


Vera’s goal was to make the Olympic figure skating team. So she spent every free minute on the ice…

…until one day she had to admit to herself: She was good, but she was never going to make the team… so she quit.

And she learned an important lesson:

Just because you devoted your life to something doesn’t mean you need to keep doing it. You’re allowed to quit… And start something new.

And that’s what Vera did…

Fast forward 20 years. After working at Vogue for 17 years as a fashion journalist, she had another aha-moment:

She was the senior fashion editor but her career wasn’t going to go any further…

So she quit. Again.

And THAT’s when Vera, at age 39, started her career as a fashion designer.

First, she took a job as the design director for accessories at Ralph Lauren. And 2 years later, she launched her own brand.

Late start as a fashion designer? Maybe… But at almost 40, Vera was in the perfect position to launch her own brand.

Just like another successful woman in the fashion world that I’d like to introduce you to…

Catherine Summers, the sales manager turned fashion blogger… at 40

When Catherine Summers was in college, her dream was to be a fashion photographer. For a while, she even worked as a photography tutor.

But life took a different turn…

She spent 14 years in retail and became the sales manager for a company selling office supplies.

Sure, it’s a great career. But let’s be honest: As much as I like BUYING fancy notebooks, selling office supplies is not exactly exciting…

So the years went by. Until Catherine’s 39th birthday came around. That’s when it hit her right in the face: She was about to be 40…

…and she was struck by a sudden fear: She was TERRIFIED with the thought that she might lose her sense of style. So she started a 1-year project…

Catherine needed what she calls a “personal style-intervention”. So she launched her blog, Not Dressed as Lamb.

And what happened?

For one, the love and talent for photography that Catherine had NEGLECTED for more than a decade… came back to life.

Plus, readers loved her fashion tips and photos. Today, her blog is one of the leading 40+ style blogs…

At 43, Catherine finally got to live her dream. And as the trusted style expert for lots of women her age, she’s making money, too:

Catherine’s like a style consultant. Readers can “shop her look”… and when they do, Catherine earns a nice commission. Not bad, right?

Catherine started at age 43…

So what’s stopping you?

Think about that while I introduce you to…

Johannah Barton, the corporate marketing pro turned freelance designer in her 40s

For 15 years Johannah Barton worked in the corporate world as a marketing pro. That’s how she built HER skills.

So, yeah. Johanna was an expert…

She’d worked with countless creative agencies to develop marketing plans, catalogs and websites.

From her years of experience, she simply knew what it takes to get a brand’s online presence RIGHT. And she knew she’d be able to help less-experienced small businesses get their online presence right, too.

She used that experience to launch her own.. Design business.

Now here’s the thing:

When she finally started her own web design business… Johanna was in her 40s. Plus, she didn’t have ANY experience as an entrepreneur.

But Johanna was smart… She didn’t jump in blindly. Johanna did her research: She looked at the industry and took notes from others who were ALREADY successful.

Today, her agency is up and running. And here’s what Johanna loves most about it:

“I am in charge of my destiny and get to make all the decisions, I love that freedom.”

Her story shows once again: It’s never too late to make a change and start something new.

Next up, meet…

Sharon Jones, the former prison guard turned singer… at 46

How does a former prison guard become a modern day soul singer at 46?

Meet Sharon Jones

People call her the Female James Brown. And it’s not a coincidence: As a child, Sharon often imitated the “Godfather of Soul”…

The funny part is that her mother actually KNEW James Brown! Plus, Sharon had real talent: It was clear that her voice needed to be heard…

But even though she kept singing in church, entering talent shows, and performing as a backup singer, she never had a “breakthrough” moment.

By the time she was 25, whenever she got through the door at a record label, they’d tell her… you guessed it: “You’re too old.”

At some point, Sharon had no choice: She had to get a day job… That’s how she ended up working as a corrections officer at Rikers Island for many years.

And the truth is:

Sharon had pretty much given up. She says:

“I thought maybe I’d sing one of these club hits. But my main thing was just to sing at weddings and at church.”

But let’s face it…

When you’re an artist or creator at heart and you KNOW what your passion is, you never really lose it. And it doesn’t matter whether you’ve known all your life, or if you just discovered what you REALLY want to do…

So whenever Sharon did get the chance to perform she gave it 100%. She kept her passion for singing AND she always had a professional attitude.

And it actually made a difference:

For one of Sharon’s singing gigs, three singers were hired. But Sharon was the only one who showed up. So she sang all the parts… and BLEW AWAY the producers. From there, one thing led to another…

Sharon and the producers put together a band. In 2002 they released Sharon’s first album. When Sharon was 46!

The record got a lot of attention from Soul enthusiasts, DJs, and collectors. And Sharon built her career from there… In 2014, Sharon was nominated for her first Grammy award.

Sadly, the singer passed away in 2016. But her story is still inspiring.


Whoever said it’s too late to find success as an artist or creator in your 40s…

They’re just wrong.

It’s NOT too late.

But you need to take the first step.

If you need more proof that it’s possible, I’d like you to meet…

Ken Proskie, who started a consulting business at age 51

At 51, Ken Proskie was the safety director for a large manufacturer. A good, secure position…

Well, that’s what Ken thought, too. Until he was unexpectedly downsized out of his job. Ugh. So what did Ken do? Well, he started looking for another corporate job. Because that’s what you do, right?

Not necessarily…

Here’s what happened with Ken:

A friend said to him

“You have so much experience. Why don’t you become a consultant?”

And that’s what planted the seed. Ken started exploring the option of going into business for himself…

It was SCARY. But Ken did launch his own consulting business. And his 20+ years of experienced played an important role in getting it off the ground.

Remember, Ken wasn’t an entrepreneur. He was more of a specialist… But because of his experience, Ken KNEW the market. He KNEW how to price his service…

…and because he used to HIRE consultants, he was able to look at his competition, assess their offer, and then make a better one!

Within 3 months, Ken closed 2 significant contracts. That was the proof and motivation he needed to keep going.

Today Ken runs a highly successful consulting business.

Remember, he started when he was 51! The best part about consulting is that you can start today.

Ken is far from the only one who turned a bad situation into a good one. For example, take…

John Tarnoff, the 63-year-old Career Coach

It’s a strange thing to brag about…

…but at 63 John Tarnoff says:

“Over the course of my 40-year career, I have been fired 39% of the time.”

John is a veteran of the media and entertainment business. He started out as a talent agent and built his career as an executive in the 80s.

But check this: Over the years he held 18 different positions! A rather tumultuous career…

Now here’s what’s interesting:

It prepared him well for the 21st-century workplace. Because the truth is: Even the people who THINK they have a stable and secure job can get laid off unexpectedly. In reality, there’s no such thing as a “secure job”…

So with that insight from his own career, John launched his own business as a career reinvention coach.

What does that mean?

Well, he’s a speaker. He offers coaching and hosts workshops. This is a great way to transform years of valuable experience into a profitable business.

Next up…

Julia Child – yes the famous TV chef – was 49 when her first book came out!

Julia Child always wanted to be a writer. But it didn’t happen until she was 49.

Well, she did give writing a shot during her college years. But all of her material was rejected…

…so she took an office job, got married, and moved to France with her husband.

That’s just how “life goes.”

Now, Julia COULD have waved her dream of being a writer goodbye. But that’s not what she did…

You see, in Paris, Julia found her love for the French cuisine. She took classes and joined the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. She even studied privately with French master chefs.

Along the way, she also found her calling as a Publishing Maven:

Julia wanted to introduce French cooking to America.

And when she finally released her bestseller “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” she was 49. A year later she made her TV debut as the French Chef.

And Julia kept going until her final days. She released many more cookbooks and TV shows… Because as she put it, “retired people are boring.”

If you’re not ready to lay back or retire, here are the resources to help you get started.

Let me share two more “late bloomer” success stories with you…

Arianna Huffington co-founded the Huffington Post when she was 55

Did you know Arianna Huffington was 55 when she co-founded the Huffington Post? Now the truth is, Arianna was somewhat of a publishing maven before that:

She was a successful author and journalist. Although for her second book she did receive 36 rejections. Anyway…

The point is:

When she told her colleagues and friends she wanted to launch a blog, they tried to stop her: Why take the risk?

And even when she did launch, there were many ill-wishers… One prominent journalist wrote Arianna would make an “online ass of herself”.

But here’s what happened instead:

A year later the same reporter described the Huffington Post as “an asset to the Internet dialogue”… And in 2011 the company was sold for $315 million.

Finally, meet…

Linda Avey, who founded her first start-up at age 46

Linda Avey is the founder of 23andMe.

Before she’d started her company, she worked for over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry.

What does her company do? Well, here’s how it works:

You send in a DNA sample, they analyze it and tell you about your health and ancestry. It’s amazing. Time Magazine even named the product the Invention of the Year!

Now, could a 20-something have started this company?

Probably not…

But Linda had the two things that were necessary: experience as a biologist AND as a business professional.

Of course, you don’t have to be a scientist to build a business…

But it’s a great reminder that your experience works FOR you, not against you.

Still think it’s too late?

If you still think it’s too late to start your business, well, then I’ve failed.

But I hope these stories showed:

It’s never too late to start something new.

To help you get started, check out the free resources here.

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2 comments Leave a comment

Derek, do you need a website before yo start to blog? Having decided on an audience how do I set up to write a blog and get interest from that audience>


Incredible Digital

Motivational and inspirational article for the entrepreneur. Real examples given in article makes it more inspirational. Thank you.

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