Posted On October 29, 2020 By In Top Stories With 332 Views

Late Bloomers: Senior Entrepreneurs

by Doreen Marion Gee –

At age 65, Harlan (Colonel) Sanders used his first social security cheque to found his famous franchise, Kentucky Fried Chicken. His body was aging but not his zest for life – or success. Seniors today can take it one step further than the fried chicken king. Due to warp-speed advances in medicine and technology, many people are living longer and healthier than ever and staying active and functional into their 70s, 80s and 90s. The post-retirement years can be the opportune time to “live the dream” and put lifelong passions into action. Entrepreneurship offers a new life and a new beginning. And, according to some local experts, these late bloomers have a few aces up their sleeves in the business world of 2020.

When academics from various American post-secondary institutions examined the success rates of new business owners, they concluded that “their chance of success didn’t decrease with age. It increased” (Wired, 2019). According to Forbes Magazine in 2018, “The highest success rates in entrepreneurship come from founders in middle age and beyond.”

This does not surprise Mike Smyth, the local owner of a B.C. advisory company, WDS Capital & Associates Inc. With over 30 years’ experience in senior management and board roles, the affable entrepreneur advises and helps business owners to be successful. To Mike, older entrepreneurs have many of those core skills and characteristics necessary to excel in business. Seniors bring a lifetime of experience and wisdom to any business, with long-time skills in their particular field plus good old fashioned know-how and determination in problem solving and dealing with people. Also, they bring valuable connections from years of working for someone else.

In addition, Mike sees the enormous benefits to seniors of entrepreneurship. “Having their own business is a way for them to share their ‘mental wealth,’ helping them to feel more engaged in the world. They are often following their passions for the first time in their lives.”

“The startup mentality is not bound by age” says yahoo! small business. A sense of adventure is not reserved for the young. On a local level, Sidney’s Cheryl Holmes Young had a booming business for four years. Her beloved Norma Jean’s Closet on Beacon offered luxurious but affordable women’s apparel. Even in her seventh decade, Cheryl’s gregarious energetic spirit brought in crowds. For her, the perks were irresistible: Cheryl’s business kept her active and involved in the community. “It kept me young,” she says. And the extra money raised her quality of life. Cheryl’s secret to business success was a lifetime of fine-tuned customer service skills. When people are treated well, they come back for more.

The role of the entrepreneur is the perfect fit for Patricia Haakonson: “I started my business as a 56-year-old retired executive and best-selling author. I am now 70 years young and loving every minute of every day.” She is a very successful independent consultant with Arbonne International, a health and wellness company that offers nutritional, sports and baby care products, along with a line of skin and hair care, and cosmetics. A major perk of going into business at this stage of her life is “being able to set my own schedule regarding what days and what hours I work … and what days I choose not to work!”

Resilience and the ability to bounce back in business can only come from surviving a lot of bumps on the road. “I think that as we mature, we have the gift of experience and the knowledge that a wrong turn or a mistake is not the end of the world. We know that we can revisit, revise or redo anything” reflects Patricia.

A note to all the late bloomers: the post-retirement years can be a time of metamorphosis, a final chance to do what makes your heart skip a beat. Remember the words of George Eliot: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

Want to get in touch with Mike, Cheryl or Patricia? Email
Photos of Mike and Patricia submitted by respective parties;
photo of Cheryl by Nuttycake Photography.



Your West Coast Culture. A magazine about the people and places that make the Saanich Peninsula the little piece of paradise we call home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *