With all those stories of teens and kids as young as 6 (6!) making their first million before they could drive, it's easy to feel like your window has closed by the time you reach 30. And if you're close to 40, 50 or 60, forget about it, right?
Wrong. It's fun and astounding to read about really young entrepreneurs making their riches, but the reality is that it's not a race. True, the earlier you make money the better it can be invested and grow--but there are plenty of midlife millionaires.
It doesn't matter how young or old you are. Check out these seven millionaires who didn't get rich until midlife or beyond. They're proof that sometimes youth is better spent on learning and growing from mistakes than on waiting for luck to lead you to a goldmine.
1. Chris Gardner
Most people know Gardner's story--he was the inspiration for Will Smith's character in Pursuit of Happyness. He didn't grow up with many opportunities and famously got by as a homeless man while raising his son. He did all of this while spending an incredible number of hours working his way up from the bottom as a trainee at EF Hutton. He didn't make his first million until well until his 40s, but it was worth the wait.
2. Harland Sanders
The real colonel behind Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sanders didn't begin his career as a restaurateur until he was 62. However, his previous jobs including being a fireman, selling insurance and working at gas stations. It was at Shell that he started serving his beloved chicken dishes, originally trading his cooking skills for free rent--but news of his incredible chicken spread, and he became a golden years entrepreneur.
3. Barack Obama
The current POTUS was a millionaire well before he was president, but it didn't happen quickly. He could barely pay his student loans for a decade postgraduation, and it was his career as a writer that earned him his first million. When he was 43, he published Dreams From my Father as a re-issue (originally published in 1995), capitalizing on his foray into politics. As POTUS, he makes $400,000 per year, but before that he'd already earned $4.6 million as an author.
4. Martha Stewart
It might seem like she's been famous forever, but Stewart was 40 before she caught her big break, which turned out to be her first book, published in the early 1980s. The former model branched off into entrepreneurship in the 1970s, when she entered the catering business. When high-net-worth clients and celebrities started rolling in, she sold her catering venture for $1 million. Years later, she's certainly been through incredible highs and lows, from her imprisonment for insider trading to her rise as the head of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. This highly successful business leader is now worth more than $300 million.
5. Wally Amos
Millions of people love Famous Amos cookies, but many don't know that Wally Amos spent most of his career working in a New York City mailroom. Even though he became a music agent and managed stars such as Marvin Gaye and the Supremes, he was still not a millionaire. As he neared retirement, he sought out a way to make some cash while enjoying a hobby he loved: baking. Gaye and Helen Reddy gave him a $25,000 loan to make it happen. His first bakery opened days before he turned 40, and within five years he was making $12 million per year.
6. Gary Heavin
Did you know the founder of Curves is a man? Gary Heavin was 40 when he became a midlife entrepreneur. Heavin says he always saw a disparity in the gym industry. Women wanted to work out a lot, but didn't necessarily have safe and nurturing gym options to do so (this was in the early 1990s). This wasn't Heavin's first startup. He dropped out of college to start his first business, made his first millions by 25, and filed for bankruptcy by the time he was 30. His second time around, he had apparently learned from his mistakes, and found huge success that stuck.
7. Khanyia Dhlomo
After working for several years at Africa's largest news station and serving as an editor for a beloved women's magazine, Dhlomo honed her skills. When she launched Ndalo Media back in 2007, a hub for lifestyle publications that are featured on South African Airways, she really struck it big. She credits her earlier life experiences, such as managing a business in France and attending Harvard's prestigious MBA program, with helping lay the foundation for her success.
In the world of entrepreneurship, age really is just a number. Scott Adams, the creator of the cartoon strip Dilbert, says the more often you try, the more chance for success you'll have. That means the 40s can be a golden age for entrepreneurship. There's no exact recipe for success, and many entrepreneurs who take quite a few swings at success eventually get what they are after.