It is always worth celebrating when we see young people in their 20’s starting businesses. In fact, I and many others are big proponents of young people starting businesses. Noble as that may all be, people can label accomplishments only as when young people start businesses. This can cause many people to ditch any possibility of starting a business once they pass a certain age. That is what I want to dispel through this article. I want to inspire you to know that it does not matter what your age is – you can still start a business or company. Thus I shall cite examples of businesses that were started by founders whose age was 35 or more.
Nyaradzo Group started as just Nyaradzo Funeral Services. Philip Mataranyika, who is the CEO right now, co-founded it in 2001 when he was aged 37 years. Philip Mataranyika is now a multimillionaire which comes as no surprise given how big a brand Nyaradzo now is.
Kentucky Fried Chicken – KFC
Colonel Harland Sanders started KFC when he was around the age of 62. Colonel Sanders’ life is a clear testament to how you can make your greatest accomplishments in your 60s. Just so know, the title Colonel was conferred to him by the Governor of Kentucky in 1950. That title is the topmost honour that can be conferred on anyone by a state in the US. The story of KFC is a fascinating one with so many business lessons – I probably will do an article just on that soon. He did sell KFC at the age of 75 and today KFC remains an iconic global fast foods brand.
The story of how Econet started is an incredible one – would have been great to have a movie for that. Anyways, Strive Masiyiwa did start his entrepreneurial journey with Retrofit Engineering. However, he later on set his sights on starting Econet and most of you are familiar with the 5-year long legal battle he went through to get the license. It was only in 1998, after having been awarded the license in 1997, that Econet Wireless launched its service. This was at a time when Strive Masiyiwa was now aged 37.
Ford Motor Company
Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company when he was 39 years 11 months old. The company is now valued at over US$180 billion. Today Ford remains one of the key players when it comes to automobiles, luxury vehicles, commercial vehicles, automotive parts, pickup trucks, and SUVs.
Boeing was started by William Boeing at the age of 35. Many of you know Boeing when it comes to aeroplanes but its products range is more than just that. It also includes rotorcraft, satellites, rockets, missiles, and telecoms equipment. Boeing has a current valuation of almost US$190 billion.
LinkedIn was founded by Reid Hoffman when he was aged 36. When it comes to social media platforms for professionals then LinkedIn is the place to be. The platform currently has over 740 million active members (from over 150 countries) and continues to grow. Also worth mentioning is that there are over 55 million active companies on LinkedIn.
Liu Chuanzhi founded Lenovo at the age of 39. Lenovo is a formidable global brand; they are actually the world’s largest PC vendor right now. They are also coming up with some great products in the smartphones space. Lenovo currently has a market cap of approximately US$16 billion.
Sony was founded by Masaru Ibuka at the age of 38. Sony also has a diversified product range much like Lenovo. It is currently valued at over US$140 billion. Masaru Ibuka started in 1946 with just an electronics shop. Interestingly, Sony’s first-ever commercial product was an electric rice cooker.
Do not get it twisted though; I am not advocating for anyone to delay starting a business. If you can start one in your teens or 20s then that is great. However, if for some reasons that does not happen, do not write yourself off just because you feel your age no longer cuts it. I remember being approached by someone and here is part of what they said, “I am fascinated at the idea of becoming an entrepreneur even though belatedly for me because I have just turned 50…” I was quick to respond, “Never mind the age, you can still achieve great things in business.” We, later on, had a 25-minute long voice call where we deliberated on the best business he can start, something he is working on materializing right now. It is generally never too late to start a business.