February 4, 2024

10 Entrepreneurs Who Had Accomplished Nothing By Age 40


Everywhere you look in the media you read another story of another 20-year-old millionaire who just sold their company. But not so often do you hear the stories of those who built companies later in their life. These are 10 entrepreneurs who built successful companies in their 40s and beyond.

1. Ray Kroc - McDonald's Corporation

Ray Kroc standing in front of one of the first McDonald's

Ray Kroc, the visionary behind the global fast-food empire McDonald's, had a modest beginning. Born in 1902, Kroc struggled in various ventures, including selling paper cups and working as a pianist, before discovering the potential in a small California-based restaurant owned by the McDonald brothers.

It wasn't until the age of 52, when he acquired the franchise rights and turned McDonald's into the giant we know today. Kroc's perseverance and innovative approach to franchising changed the landscape of the fast-food industry.

2. Vera Wang - Vera Wang Bridal House

Vera Wang at a photoshoot

Vera Wang, renowned for her exquisite bridal designs, didn't start her journey in the fashion industry until she was 40. Before establishing her iconic bridal house, Wang was a figure skater and a successful editor at Vogue. It was her frustration with the lack of fashionable bridal wear that led her to start her own line. Today, Vera Wang is a household name synonymous with elegance and style in the world of bridal fashion.

3. Arianna Huffington - The Huffington Post

Arianna Huffington speaking on live television

Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, achieved success in the world of media and publishing later in life. She launched The Huffington Post at the age of 55, proving that innovation and success are not limited by age.

She became a beacon of modern journalism, not only co-founded The Huffington Post at 55 but also became a leading advocate for wellness and mindfulness, emphasizing the importance of work-life balance through her later ventures.

4. Harland Sanders - KFC

Harland Sanders standing in front of KFC

Colonel Harland Sanders, the iconic face of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), started his journey as a restaurateur in his 40s. Sanders faced multiple setbacks, from a failed law career to the closure of his original restaurant during the Great Depression. It wasn't until he franchised his unique fried chicken recipe to other restaurateurs that KFC became a global phenomenon. The Colonel's story highlights the importance of adapting to change and never giving up on one's dreams.

5. Estée Lauder - Estée Lauder Inc.

Estée Lauder, a cosmetics pioneer, founded her famous brand in 1946. Known for introducing iconic products like "Youth Dew" and Advanced Night Repair, she personally engaged with customers, creating a luxury brand synonymous with quality. Beyond her business acumen, Lauder's legacy in entrepreneurship endures in the global success of the Estée Lauder Companies.

6. Momofuku Ando - Nissin Food Products Co.

The inventor of instant noodles, Momofuku Ando, didn't create his groundbreaking product until he was 48. Born in Taiwan, Ando faced financial hardships and even spent time in a Japanese labor camp during World War II. It was after witnessing food shortages in post-war Japan that Ando was inspired to develop instant noodles, leading to the creation of Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd. His invention revolutionized the food industry and became a staple in households worldwide.

7. Henry Ford - Ford Motor Company

Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company and a pioneer in the automotive industry, faced numerous failures before achieving success. By the age of 40, Ford had already experienced bankruptcy with two earlier companies. It wasn't until he founded Ford Motor Company in 1903 that he revolutionized the automobile industry with the introduction of assembly line production. Ford's determination to make cars affordable for the average person changed the way the world travels.

9. Taikichiro Mori - Mori Building Company

Taikichiro Mori, the founder of Mori Building Company and a real estate magnate, didn't start his real estate career until the age of 55. Before that, he worked as an academic and taught at the Tokyo University of Science. Mori's expertise in urban planning and his vision for developing modern, sustainable urban spaces made him a key player in transforming Tokyo's skyline. His story proves that it's never too late to start a new chapter and make a significant impact.

10. Charles Flint - IBM

Charles Flint, the founder of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR), which later became IBM, entered the business world in his late 40s. Flint, a successful mergers and acquisitions specialist, brought together four companies to form CTR in 1911. His strategic vision and ability to foresee the potential of the emerging computing industry laid the foundation for one of the most influential technology companies in the world. Flint's story emphasizes the importance of recognizing opportunities and leveraging expertise at any age.

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