Think you’re too old to start a business? Meet four founders who launched post 40.


Photo: Parade

Think you have to be a young and daring 20-something to start a business? Think again. Some of our nation’s most successful entrepreneurs didn’t establish their companies until well after they had turned 40 years old. We’ve all seen the exciting headline news stories about hipster college dropouts who strike it rich with a big tech idea. But the reality is, age and experience are golden when it comes to starting—and growing—a business.

After all, with time comes wisdom and deftness gained from mistakes, decades of problem-solving and relationship-forming. Free Enterprise points out that although the trail-blazing, college-aged company founders are the ones capturing our collective attention, it’s the experienced business individuals—those with years and years of industry-savvy know-how – who are creating businesses that are finding sustainable success.

There is a vast field of business founders, including the following four, who not only kicked off their flourishing companies after the age of 40, but also have enjoyed incredible growth and success.

Arianna Huffington
Founder of The Huffington Post

Arianna Huffington was 55 years old when she founded The Huffington Post, which has become one of the nation’s 30 most trafficked websites. Among the first to predict the move from print to digital media, the company appeals to a broad audience, driving millions of users to its affiliated sites.

Sam Walton
Founder of Wal-Mart

Sam Walton was 44 when he opened his first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Arkansas, after opening a few smaller shops built on just $20,000 he had borrowed from his father-in-law. Now ranked as the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart employs more than 2.2 million associates and operates 11,000 outlets worldwide.

Martha Stewart
Founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

After a lengthy business career that began humbly – Martha Stewart ran a small catering company out of her basement – at the age of 56, Stewart went on to found Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The diversified media and merchandising company employs more than 400 people and reaches more than 100 million consumers across the globe.

Tim and Nina Zagat
Founders of the Zagat Survey

Business Insider spotlights Tim and Nina Zagat, who were both 51-year-old lawyers when they published their first collection of restaurant reviews under the Zagat name. The Zagat guide came to be known as the culinary authority and among the most recognized restaurant recommendation sources.

As these success stories prove, age and the wisdom-filled insight that comes along with it, brings some major advantages to the table. Years of business experience, along with entrepreneurial spirit and a bit of risk tolerance all make for valuable ingredients when starting a business. And as discussed in an earlier blog post Want to start a business? Earn your MBA,” skills gained from an MBA, including business theory and management know-how, easy access to a professional network, plus negotiating expertise help an individual turn a solid business idea into a successful enterprise with growth and sustainability. Your experience combined with the tools and skills gained from earning an MBA can open the door to opportunities and financial success as an entrepreneur. Find out more about how Spring Arbor University’s online MBA program can help you start and grow a business.

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