In today’s business world, especially where the internet rules the world, the stereotype is that an extremely successful entrepreneur must be a young person or someone who made their money in the technology industry. Young app developers who turned overnight millionaires saturate the press with their success stories as they try to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. However, you may be surprised to learn that some of the most successful companies today were not founded by youngsters. There are many late bloomers in life who were also wanderers once, but pursued and lived their wildest dreams at a later age.
Here are the stories of a few business heroes who got a late start:
Amancio Ortega – Founder, Zara
Born in Spain, Amancio Ortega, the founder of the famous clothing brand Zara, is a billionaire and a force to be reckoned with. His background is less than glamorous. He was born as the youngest of four children to a railway worker and would have to move and leave his school at the age of 14 because of his father’s work. Eventually, he obtained a job at a local clothing store and shirt producer helping around the shop. There, he learned to make clothing by hand until he was around 30 and decided to leave to form his company producing and selling bathrobes. Today, Amancio is the wealthiest retailer in the world, with 8 brands selling in 202 markets through its online platform and over 7,000 stores in 96 markets.
Amancio Ortega’s estimated worth is $58.4 billion.
Mary Kay Ash – Founder, Mary Kay
Born in Cypress, Texas, Mary Kay Ash was the well-known founder of her network marketing company “Mary Kay Inc”, sold by home-based sales representatives across the country. Mary Kay was not always an independent entrepreneur, though she did have some involvement in the business world. Mary had gone to work for Stanley Home Products, where she did well for many years. One day, Mary was rejected for a promotion that was instead given to a man she had trained. Frustrated with her situation, Mary retired from her corporate job and wrote a book that she hoped would help women succeed in business for themselves. Instead, her book became her business plan from which she founded Mary Kay Cosmetics in 1963 at the age of 45.
Mary Kay’s personal net worth at the time of her death in 1984 was $500 million. Today, Mary Kay Inc is a multi-billion dollar company.
Ray Kroc – Changed the Game for McDonald Brothers
Born to Czech-American parents in the early 1900s, Ray Kroc was one of the prime examples of a leader who overcame failure and adversity in the face of impossible tragedies. During the 1920s, he made his fortune as a land prospector, only to lose everything he worked for in the stock market crash of 1929. Eventually, he got a job as a milkshake mixer salesman for a successful company that supplied machinery to fast-food restaurants.
That, too, would be taken from him when the company went under due to stiff competition from Hamilton Beach. In 1954, at the age of 52, he joined up with a small franchise that had just opened six new locations, expanding from its successful but small operation in San Bernadino, California. From there, he teamed up with the McDonald Brothers, turning their chain into the major multi-national franchise that it is today, McDonald’s.
Ray Kroc’s estimated net worth was $600 million at the time of his death in 1984.
Suze Orman – Founder, Suze Orman Financial Group
Born on the south side of Chicago, Suze Orman is a shark in the business world, though, at one time, you may have never believed this would happen. Originally her degree was in social work. After finishing school, Suze moved to Berkeley to become a waitress in 1980, where she worked until she was 30 years old.
Once she got to Berkeley, she borrowed about $50,000 from her friends to open her own restaurant. Tragedy struck when as a young and naive investor, and she placed the money in the hands of an agent at Merrill-Lynch. The agent squandered the fortune, and she lost everything. She did not let the experience break her, and determined to learn more about money and investing, Suze trained as a broker at the same firm that lost all of her money. She worked her way up until she left Merill-Lynch in 1983 to become a vice president at Prudential Bache Securities. At the age of 36, she left Prudential and founded her own firm Suze Orman Financial Group.
Since then, she’s written numerous books, made thousands of appearances on highly rated TV shows, and had her own TV show. She is one of the most well-known financial gurus in the US.
Suze Orman’s estimated worth is $30 million.
2 thoughts on “5 Entrepreneurs Who Got a Late Start in Business”
So proud of you Mel! This is amazing , entertaining, informative, and interesting ! Love it!
Thank youuuu Steph!! Miss you guys so much. Mel