For most who become entrepreneurs, the desire to leap starts well before they are ready. However, there is a misconception that most people who jump into entrepreneurship always knew they were entrepreneurs or have been entrepreneurs their whole life, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Most businesses started in this country are by people in their 30s and 40s. Sometimes, it is a drastic transition, but most of the time, it is slow and then sudden.
There are only five ways one becomes an entrepreneur.
- Born into a family Business and learning by assimilation
- 7-10 years working in industry, becoming an expert, then transitioning into a business in that same sector
- School of hard knocks. Leap, and learn trial by fire
- Find a mentor to hold your hand and coach you. You will pay this person a lot of money for their time.
- Some combination of all of the above.
Here is a list of 10 highly successful entrepreneurs who didn't successfully start or transition until later in life. You will see the five paths into entrepreneurship woven through their stories.
Ray Kroc - Before joining McDonald's as a franchise agent at 52 and later purchasing it, Kroc was a milkshake machine salesman, real estate agent, and musician.
Harland Sanders (Colonel Sanders) - Colonel Sanders began cooking chicken for customers at his service station in Kentucky at 40. He had been a steam engine stoker, insurance salesman, and filling station operator.
Momofuku Ando - Ando, who invented instant ramen at 48, experienced several business failures, including running a textile and industrial goods company and setting up a small school.
Sam Walton - Before founding Walmart at 44, Walton managed retail stores, worked at J.C. Penney, and operated a Ben Franklin variety store franchise.
Leo Goodwin - Goodwin founded GEICO at 50. He was an accountant and aimed to sell insurance directly to federal employees and military officers.
Robert Noyce - Co-founder of Intel at 41, Noyce was a research engineer and co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, known for inventing the integrated circuit.
Arianna Huffington - Huffington launched The Huffington Post at 55. She had been an author, columnist, and even ran for governor of California.
Vera Wang - Wang became a fashion designer at 40. She was a figure skater and journalist, worked at Vogue as a senior fashion editor, and was a design director at Ralph Lauren.
Charles Flint - Flint created IBM at 61. He was a financier and trust organizer known for consolidating companies, such as in the American Chicle Company.
Jan Koum - Koum founded WhatsApp at 33. He worked at Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer and had humble beginnings doing cleaning and grocery work after immigrating to the U.S.
Each individual on this list illustrates the diverse paths to entrepreneurship. It's not too late to get started.
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