Contrary to what many people believe, the most successful businesses around are not started by millennials or those in their 30s. In fact, a study by the American Census Bureau identifies that a multitude of successful companies are built by those who are considered to be middle-aged or older.
Business Start-Up Success
Research into the age of founders of companies unveiled that those who are 50 years of age or older, are 2.8 times more likely to build a profitable, growth-oriented business than someone half their age. This is not a new trend. Some of the world’s most recognizable brands were started by the 50 and older crowd. Below are some examples of successful companies whose founders were 50 years of age or older when they started their businesses.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
After serving in the military, at the age of 40, Harland Sanders was running a gas station in Kentucky and selling fried chicken to his customers as a side hustle. In 1952, when Sanders was 62 years old, he gave his secret fried chicken recipe to a buddy in Salt Lake City, Utah, and created the first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. Within 10 years the Kentucky Fried Chicken company had grown to hundreds of franchises throughout the United States and Canada. In 1962, Harland Sanders, now known as “Colonel Sanders” decided to sell his interest in the company for $2 million. According to Forbes, in 2020, the Kentucky Fried Chicken Company now referred to as “KFC” is valued at over $12.6 billion.
Ray Kroc, in 1954, ordered a burger and fries at a restaurant run by two brothers, Mac and Dick McDonald. Kroc was impressed with the food and the business processes and systems that the McDonald brothers had in place. So, in 1955, when Kroc was 52 years old, he turned the McDonald brother’s business into a franchise and created the McDonald’s System, Inc. Just three years after the franchising operation had been put in place, in 1958, McDonald’s sold its 100 millionths McDonald’s burger. Today, McDonald’s Systems Inc. is considered to be one of the most recognizable brands in the world and generates $21 billion annually in sales.
In 1936 Leo Goodwin turned 50 years old. At this point in his life he had been writing up insurance policies for most of his career. But at the age of 50 he decided he wanted more about of his work so he created his own company and called it Geico Insurance. In Leo’s first year his newly formed company had only 3,700 policies. But, today, in 2021, Geico boasts 17 million auto policies and growing.
Elaine Allan, BA, MBA
Technology & Business Blogger
Vancouver, BC, Canada