A 2007 survey conducted by Open from American Express found that baby boomer business owners see themselves as natural born entrepreneurs. The data suggests they started new businesses primarily due to a passion, as opposed to for money. Here are three examples of successful strategies used to find an entrepreneurial niche after age 40:
1. Carolyn Gable: Apply existing work disciplines to new situations.
Carolyn Gable went from waitress to president and CEO of New Age Transportation, Distribution and Warehousing.
This single mom of seven worked as a waitress before accepting a customer service representative position at a transportation company. She learned the business and decided she could be her own boss. Today, her company attracts over $30 million in revenue from high-profile clients.
Gable turned her experience into a program to teach others how to become successful in business. Her book, Everything I Know as a CEO, I Learned as a Waitress (2007), details business leadership principles which she shares as a public speaker. (Learn what you need in order to succeed as a self-made businessperson, in Are You An Entrepreneur?.)
2. Gert Boyle: Turn adversity into strength.
Gert Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear, grew the company from $800,000 in sales into a billion-dollar business.
When Boyle's husband, the founder of Columbia, suddenly died in 1970, the 46-year-old housewife and mother stepped up to lead the company.
Her book, One Tough Mother: Success in Life, Business and Apple Pies (2005), discusses her family's escape from Nazi Germany and her life as wife and stay-at-home mom, as well as how she summoned inner strength to continue and expand her husband's business into a widely-recognized sportswear giant. (Learn how to design the ideal work environment from home, in Creating A Home Business Work Space.)
3. Don Kellogg: Cultivate new ideas into opportunity and partner for success.
Don Kellogg, inventor and co-owner of Telesto Medtech, created therapeutic garments used to control swelling.
In 1990, Kellogg's wife developed lymphedema, a disease which causes painful swelling of the arms & legs. He used his 35 years of experience in the design business to create a garment to reduce the swelling. In 2002, the NFL began using the device for sports injuries, propelling it into a $150,000 business.
At age 72, Kellogg continues to oversee technology and manufacturing for the company, while his partner, Mitch Kasper, manages other parts of the business.
The Bottom Line
Entrepreneurship does not have an age limit. Life experiences can be the catalyst to successful business strategies that turn passion into cash.