Experts Weigh In: I'm an Entrepreneur in my 60s+It’s the last week of our entrepreneurs by the ages series here on the MyCorp blog! From teen entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, our final post celebrates entrepreneurs in their 60s and beyond as they share with us their stories about starting up a small business, the obstacles they’ve encountered, and the rewards that being an entrepreneur has given them.

1) “I began my professional career as manager of a Coronary Care unit and a Non- Invasive Cardiology Unit Supervisor in local area hospitals. In my free time I developed an interest in the science and art of chocolate. Gaining chocolate making skills through a blend of personal exploration and formal education I attended a Master Chocolatier certificate program that enabling me to learn techniques with Master Chocolatiers of the Tuscany region of Italy. My journey to becoming a Chocolatier led to my founding Donna & Company in 2005 and establishing my own chocolate brands, CocoaBee® Honey Caramels and Donna Toscana® Tuscan Style® Chocolates and Fundamental. My chocolates have appeared on the NBC TODAY Show, in the New York Times, New Jersey Monthly, Dessert Professional, Park Place Magazine and numerous other media outlets.  I was named Best Chocolatier by NJ Monthly magazine and Local Hero, Food Artisan of 2010 by Edible NJ magazine.”

– Diane Pinder, 61, Chocolatier/Founder, Donna & Company

2) “I’m an entrepreneur who is 74. I started my business at 55. After a long career in management in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, I was working as a consultant in a small firm. After several years I realized I had learned the “business” and was actually good at product development, marketing, and sales. My younger sister who had started her own business a few years before was my inspiration. So, as we say, ‘I stepped off the cliff and grew wings on the way.’ Over the past 19 years, I’ve reinvented my business several times as the needs of my markets have changed. I’ve added professional speaking, writing books, webinars, and digital products to my mix of face-to-face consulting. The best parts of being an entrepreneur at my age are: being able to use my creativity to craft new products and services for my customers and wider market, thus staying mentally active; creating my own work schedule to accommodate lots of physical activity including yoga, Tai Chi, and walking to stay physically and mentally fit; and living a life that is fulfilling on every level. I have cut back on my road warrior travel and allowed technology to help me communicate around the world more. I will never be isolated because I have made friends around the world and I keep up business and personal relationships with them. I have no plans to retire. I’ll just keep innovating, reinventing, and tapping into my imagination until it’s time to go.”

Rebecca Staton-Reinstein, Ph.D., 74,  President, Advantage Leadership, Inc.

3) “Most of my career, I worked in administration. I am almost 70, and have now become a designer. I designed a protective bag, BORSAbag. I am in an unknown environment. The way I describe it is I feel as though I’m in a vast field of tall grass with a machete. I just keep whacking away to find my path.

At this stage of my life, I have accumulated some savings and am in a better position to finance my design. I feel secure in taking that risk, mainly because I am married, and know that if I lose my investment, I will still be okay. I have more peace of mind to take the necessary risks. I constantly think about my product, how to improve it, additional uses for various sizes, and how to introduce BORSAbag to everyone. The downside of being my age is I can’t afford to take too much time to make decisions. I  must think about it, address it, and decide, and then move on to the next step. I have made sure that my infrastructure is strong, I have my inventory, and now I must make an announcement from the highest mountain to get my word out there. Time is of the essence.

BORSAbag is a simple, yet very unique product. It can be used to protect anything. The key is: Always Inside Out. The small pouch stays clean and dry, and can be stored safely in pocket or purse even though the large protective bag is wet or dirty. The Bag For All Seasons; The Bag For All Reasons®”

– Diane Piper, 69+, President/Designer, BORSAbag LLC

4) “I am currently the CEO of Ivy Leaf Film Productions Inc. for the last two years in Surfside Beach, SC. As my spouse and I readied for retirement I was surprised with a near fatal perforated bowel, and, lucky me, under CT scan they found a huge cancerous mass on my left kidney. After two huge surgeries and finally healing and playing the ‘when can I return to work game’ I found myself unemployed and unemployable. Who hires a Registered Nurse in their sixties except to say, ‘Welcome to Walmart!’? We had to make a change.

My wife and I dipped into our 401K and started the business under the hopes that our eldest son, whom possesses a degree in film, would run the company and eventually take over the company. Instead of reporting to a hospital every day, my days are now spent marketing, canvassing, networking and walking business to business to find work. Let’s just say if it weren’t for my wife’s RN salary, we would be homeless. That’s how hard is it for a small business to take off and break even!

We have had some success but as with any company, it’s hit and miss. I am fortunate that I enjoy eating and driving my car so having to pay bills to enjoy those luxuries keeps me focused on the job at hand. In hindsight, I should have bought stock in Bengay and Icy Hot! To quote a famous philosopher, (Curly of The Three Stooges), ‘f it first you don’t succeed, keep on sucking ‘til you do suck seed!’”

– Michael Ivy, 60+, CEO, Ivy Leaf Film Productions Inc.

5) “I am a medium, intuitive, pet psychic, horse whisperer and energy healer. I do my work by phone all over the world. I am unusual because I know my work is based in physics – I take the woo-woo out of it. Everything is energy and everything has a vibration and frequency. All I do is pick up on vibrations and frequencies that other people miss. The best part about having a business at this age is that I know without a doubt that my success is due to my efforts. Period. I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep it growing and being successful. I love making my own schedule, building my business, planning for a TV show, writing books, helping people with the information that I receive for them and actually feeling them change for the better while they are on the phone with me. It’s so exciting. Every reading I do is so specific and the details are so amazing that I can’t make it up!”

Terri Jay, 61, Owner, TerriJay.com

6) “With only $5,000 to invest, Funk founded Express Personnel Services in 1983. He, along with partners William H. Stoller and James Gray – who had all been associates in another staffing firm that was dissolved after the death of its president – brought in $2.1 million in revenue that first year. But what Express Employment Professionals has become is almost hard to fathom, especially given that Funk had to borrow another $150,000 from a local banker 22 years ago to help the company through its first six months.

In addition to founding Express Employment Professionals, Funk founded Express Ranches, the No. one largest seedstock producer in America and a leading Angus cattle producer, as well as Express Sports, the managing promoter and manager of sports teams and professional bull riders in Oklahoma and Tulsa. Funk also has three affiliate organizations under Express Employment Professionals, including Express Travel Services, Express Event Center and the Express Clydesdales, 2,000 pound 8ft. tall horses that participate in many nationally recognized parades and events such as Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Calgary Stampede Parade (which once carried Prince William and Kate Middleton), many rodeos and football bowl games as well.”

Robert A. Funk, 60+, Founder/Chairman of the board/CEO, Express Employment Professionals

7) “I started my business at age 52 and here we are 8 years later and I am 60 years old and the business is doing great. I started my company when breast cancer threw me into menopause with drenching night sweats and I could not find anything soft and wicking for sleep. I knew there were millions of women suffering and I could develop a product that would help them get a better night sleep. The rest is an entrepreneurial success story!”

Haralee Weintraub, 60, CEO, Haralee.com

8) “I’m an energetic 76-year-old who is passionate about my business. Before I launched my store – which sells olive oils, Balsamic vinegars, and coconut oil – I was a food products salesman, and I had lost the joy of selling. The managers of stores no longer have the autonomy over what they buy and all stores are the same. I like to both to be very well-informed about what I sell and to be hands-on in interacting with clients and customers, so I decided to retire.

That didn’t last long. I was retired for six months and I couldn’t do it. I have no hobbies and I don’t follow sports. And I love people. When an opportunity arose to sell olive oils for a distributor, I grabbed it. I said to my wife: ‘Why don’t we open a store?’”

Ed DeSoto, 76, Co-Founder/Owner, The Olive Bar

9) “I love being an entrepreneur at 66! I can’t imagine giving it up and retiring. Retire to do what? Lie on the beach? For how many days would that be interesting? The best part of being an entrepreneur at this age is that I love my work, can do it as much or as little as I want, and no one can fire me or suggest I retire because I’m too old. I love helping people and am addicted to compliments like this ‘Without your help, I may never have found my true calling. It seems as if your words have touched me so deeply, that you have helped me to open up a part of my brain. I see things in such a different light now.’

That’s what really lights up my life. I won’t ever voluntarily give that up. I always wanted to grow up to be a Wise Woman, and now I’m here and I’m like it fine. I treat money disorders—spending bulimia and income anorexia. I teach successful financial strategies in my 8-week course, Financial Stress Reduction® Workshop, and have licensed my program and trained other financial coaches.

My third book, From Worry to Wealthy: A Woman’s Guide to Financial Success Without the Stress will be released in February, 2015. I am the author of two prior financial/life balance books, The Wealthy Spirit and Zero to Zillionaire. I’m also one of Marci Shimoff’s ‘Happy 100’ in her recent NYT bestseller Happy for No Reason and am quoted as a ‘financial guru’ by Jack Canfield, Rhonda Britten, BJ Gallagher, Paul and Sarah Edwards, and other top authors in more than 50 books.”

– Chellie Campbell, 66, Owner, Chellie.com

10) “My Mobilegro invention is much more than the next new innovative home gardening product to hit the market. It’s about a five year journey filled with painful disappointment, severe frustration, incredibly hard work, perseverance and sheer determination in the face of tremendous adversity. Giving up was never an option, I really believed in myself and my creative idea.

I spent about 42 years in or around education and virtually in the service of mankind. When you review those years, it is evident to all that I have honestly spent a lifetime filled with community service, philanthropy, and heartfelt dedication to my Arizona students. I am a doer. I get things done the old fashioned way by rolling up my sleeves and accomplishing what needs to be done. In doing so I have acquired what people say is a real tenacious reputation for attaining results. In my viewfinder it has been a constant personal quest of always striving to make a positive difference in this world.

Mobilegro is the first venture I have ever done for myself. When many people tend to wind down in retirement, I did just the opposite. I got into product development, writing patents, marketing, public relations and manufacturing. This is not easily tackled by many, yet alone a 64 year old woman. By working 18 to 20 hour days for 5 years, I turned my lifelong creative gardening idea into an amazing and viable product that will now benefit millions of people nationally and internationally.

Mobilegro portable vegetable garden carts are what I consider beautiful metal works of art. Artistically functional gardening carts designed for maximizing and transforming small spaces into bountiful gardens. Decades ago, my invention would have been considered the old Victory Garden, now, in modern terms, The New Recession Garden. MOBILEGRO is a product with essential value and is basically tailor made for everyone in today’s transitional / economically challenged times.”

– Angela DiMaggio, 64, Owner, Mobilegro LLC 

11) “We learned about in-home care after Pam recovered from a liver transplant. I wish I’d known about in-home care service when I was taking care of Pam. We became so passionate about making sure other people knew about the options available to them, we took our retirement savings and opened an office of our own.

The best about being an entrepreneur in your 60s is the diminished fear when approaching unfamiliar or uncharted waters. With age we felt the need to follow the old adage, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ We have far more patience now than in our youth lending itself to heightened strategic thinking and have experienced business at all levels from entry to middle management to executive level. This affords us the ability to relate to anyone at any level with a certain comfort and ease.”

Bill Nelson, 62, Pam Nelson, 65, Owners, SYNERGY HomeCare Franchise

12) “I am 61 and when I hit 60, I wanted to make sure that I had fulfilled two dreams of mine: bringing a whole industry back to America that began here, and starting a chocolate company with a product that did not previously exist.

My company, CelebriDucks created a whole new art form of celebrity rubber ducks of the greatest icons of film, music history, and athletics. They were voted one of the top 100 gifts by Entertainment Weekly and featured on hundreds of TV shows, magazines, and newspapers including The Tonight Show. We have sold over a million of them and are considered the top custom duck manufacturer in the world.

But I really wanted to address the importance of bringing jobs and industries back to America. I got tired of seeing the whole country outsourced. I brought the whole rubber duck industry back to America where the rubber duckie was invented before the whole industry went overseas. Now we’re doing them for everyone from Harley-Davidson to The Future Farmers of America and totally own our niche. No one will ever be making them here, but us. The PR has been amazing and we are already in the black. It’s like a whole new company.

And then, not wanting to stop creating my dream, I launched our new chocolate division at CocoaCanard with our Spooning Chocolate, the only dairy and gluten-free hot chocolate that can instantly mix up in a cup of hot water and you will never miss the milk. We spent a year trying to figure out how to do it and now it is the go to product in that category. The trick in business in my case is doing what I love and being different from everyone else. It’s not just about surviving, but a way of me personally growing and staying passionate and motivated. My grandkids are so proud and God knows they love my ducks and chocolate!”

– Craig Wolfe, 61, President, CelebriDucks, Cocoa Canard

13) “After a long career in TV production, direction, and writing, I was looking at retirement and planning to get a boat and relax with my wife. I took a class on that, and heard about a vital safety procedure that most people ignore that was something I knew nothing about before but thought Gosh, that’s amazingly clunky and inefficient – there MUST be an app for that. I looked. There wasn’t.  A year and a lot of effort and money later, my new business is about to explode on the boating scene and I’m entrepreneur-ing once again at 61-plus. When I jokingly asked my wife what OTHER person my age she’d ever heard of who started a multi-million dollar international business after 60 in retirement she laughed and said only one – Col. Sanders! I replied with a smile that if that meant I had to wear a white suit and grow a goatee the deal was off.

I think the best thing about doing this at this age with this mass of life experience is perspective. Things that younger people see as major emergencies or roadblocks I just see as been-there/done-that before bumps in the road, and there’ve been a few. Clearly being able to apply past experience and connections to the new enterprise helps, but mostly it is about attitude, about truly being a ‘seasoned citizen.’ Oh, and one more advantage? I’m financing this enterprise myself from my Director’s Guild pension funds!”

Dan Fendel, 61, CEO/Founder, Float Plan One, LLC

14) “I founded my core business, Peoples Tax, in 1987 and created a tax school in 1989 to recruit & train tax preparers to support our growth over the next 5 years to 26 tax offices in central Virginia. Over the subsequent years, the core business lost market share due to TurboTax, IRS FreeFile and the influx of national competitors. We now have only five tax offices in Richmond, VA. However, our tax school has evolved to become a larger business than the tax service. The Income Tax School enrolls thousands of e-learning students annually nationwide and is poised to grow to a multi-million dollar business over the next several years.”

– Charles E. McCabe, 69, CEO, Peoples Income Tax, Inc.

15) “I’m an author and dating consultant who specializes in helping singles 44 and above find love. I’m also the creator of the Mate Acquisition Program, dozens of instructional videos, and the author of four books on love and attraction. I’m currently on a nationwide quest to find my ultimate love match using my skills and the program I created along with the media exposure I’m hoping to generate on radio and TV. I’ve created a professional dating profile to post on over 20 of the top dating websites. I’m also using a crowdfunding source to film a reality/documentary of my search taking you behind the scenes to show how a dating expert creates the profile, how he flirts and acts on dates.”

Leonardo Bustos, 62, CEO, Mate Acquisition Program

16) “Our Cornet Bay Company’s food business was born back stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville Tennessee where I had gone in January of 1987 to seek fame and fortune in country and country gospel music. I had only a $1500 cashier’s check that no bank in Nashville would cash and other than one contact, I knew no one upon arriving in Nashville’s Music City.

Ten years later I returned home in the food business, Smoked salmon dip, and it was being sold in the largest grocery food chain in the nation – Kroger. When landing in Nashville I knew nothing about sales, had never been inside a grocery store seafood shop, I had no money, and I knew NOTHING about the food business. Marketing? Use every idea that comes along. In the beginning, I backed my ideas with music and a kid’s dance group I put together named Arnie’s Smokin’ Salmon’s.

Cornet Bay now has over 33 products on the Kroger owned QFC shelves and four in Fred Meyer and over the years Kroger has private labeled seven of our seafood dips and spreads and two are throughout Kroger seafood shops in the south and southeast. I have recently written a book, The Singin’ Salmon Man From Cornet Bay, which I use as a tool for sales and speaking engagements.

The entrepreneurial, grassroots way of doing business is still alive and kickin’! That is, if the person who owns the business has good products, a lot of desire, drive and persistence to keep it going. I’m 73 years old and I’m still pickin’ ‘em up and puttin’ ‘em down! There is no moss under this cowboy’s boots.”

Arnie Deckwa, 73, Owner, Cornet Bay Company

17) “I invented Finders Key Purse(r) when I was 53 and 10 years later, I still go to work every day, attend trade shows, have a lot of press, and even employ my son who now thinks I am actually SMART!

We sell wholesale to retail stores, and I am in charge of sales. My experience in sales is cumulative over all the years I was a flight attendant (35), and now selling my own product, though oftentimes frustrating and challenging, makes me feel like I did when I was cute, young, and most people would say yes to whatever I was selling (well I almost feel like that!).

I love making my own hours, doing my own thing, and sharing the good, and the ugly with the rest of my staff, and picking what parts I want to deal with and then delegating the rest! That’s how we roll!”

–  Sandy Stein, 63, President, Finders Key Purse

18) “I transitioned to being the owner of And Thou Shalt Read at almost 55 years old after having been in various forms of education for 10 years and 12 years as an officer in the Air Force. I was looking to change classrooms when I learned that the local Jewish book dealer had retired. This was something I could do, and I went home to my husband to ask his opinion. He didn’t hesitate in saying yes. I conferred with a local Jewish educator to confirm that I would be needed in the community as a Jewish book dealer. She said yes, and that sealed the deal. I bought my business license on May 5th after getting all the other licenses I needed and went into full swing. I sold my first book in July, and had done $60,000 of business by October.

I have since purchased several companies’ inventory that went out of business, plus Oy Toys in August of 2011. I added Bow Wow Mews (dogs and cats) in September of 2013. I now do conferences, book fairs and festivals around the country and ship my products around the world. While we have a very serious mission of supporting education, our motto at And Thou Shalt Read and Oy Toys is, we don’t sell books; we don’t sell toys. At Oy Toys, we sell fun. I look forward to doing this for another 8-10 years because I love selling fun while supporting education.”

Ruthe Levy, 62, Owner, And Thou Shalt Read, Oy Toys, Bow Wow Mews and part owner of Team Logic IT

19) “The best part about being an entrepreneur at my age is that I am able to do what I want when I want. After building a business from scratch to approx. $200 million in assets under management and then selling it 7 years ago, I no longer have to work but I enjoy keeping busy and giving back. Now I am able to help business owners do a better job for their clients and improve their bottom line and help individuals live more successful, fulfilling lives and realize their dreams. I do that through my current business as a professional speaker, business coach, continuing education instructor for professionals and with the books I have written. It feels great to make a difference in the quality of lives of individuals and helping business owners to be more successful. The difference between my previous business and being an entrepreneur now, is that I no longer need to work 80 hours a week to support a family. Now I can be more choosey about who I work with and how many hours I work. That takes all the pressure off of me and enables me to be in greater control of my business and my work life balance.”

Nancy D. Butler, 64, National Speaker, Business Coach, Author, CEU instructor, Above All Else, Success in Life and Business

20) “I’m a serial entrepreneur and my vision is to standardize fit in apparel. I love what I do and get up every morning excited to solve the day’s mystery. I am 61 years young and the CEO of Fitlogic. Over 850 stories have been recorded about my journey. The best part about being an entrepreneur at my age is my ability to be patient for the desired results.”

Cricket Lee, 61, CEO & Founder, Fit Direct, Inc.

21) “I founded my corporation – A Beautiful Center of Light, Inc. – in 1993. It started out as a spiritual-based interior design business including Feng Shui wisdom. I published my book, “The Gift of the Red Envelope: A Guide to Designing Balance, Order & Beauty in Your Home” through it. When I was told I’d never walk again (1995), we discovered toxins in the home were creating the problem. So I added “healthy” design practices to the mix. When I had a series of sinus infections where I lost my voice for almost 2 years (2003), we found mold was the cause. I added green/sustainable building principles to my business. In the process I became one of the first non-Asian Feng Shui Masters. ABC LIGHT is also an inspirational community. All these are woven together in many elements of my business – design, construction consultations, speaking, writing, Feng Shui education to several industries (designers, stagers, architects, realtors, healthcare, professional organizers, educational facilities), clutter-buster, coaching and much more.

I’m an entrepreneur! I wake up energized knowing I’m making a difference in people’s lives and each day is a marvelous adventure filled with opportunities for me to explore the world and share my gifts. I help people, especially women, fall in love with their homes, improve health and relationships, bring financial serenity, and stimulate their success while soothing their souls. No two days are ever the same. I love the challenge and variety. I’ve worked in major corporations, like Bank of the West and The Ritz-Carlton, and with media personalities around the world. I can be alone and write/create or I can be among people sharing a balanced, wise lifestyle. I’m 66 years young, and a business owner, designer, speaker, author, wise woman, consultant, traveler and coach.”

– Linda Lenore, 66, Owner, GreenChiDesigns

22) “I started my business in January of 2010 after being laid off. I realized that I had benefitted from many years of working in corporate America and would be able to put my experience, skills, and talents to good use serving the needs of small businesses that were struggling with their sales and marketing functions. I had found Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing automation software to be an excellent tool to support strategy and tactics, to provide meaningful data for use in critical decision-making, and to drive efficiency in companies with limited resources. There was clearly a need for adoption of the technology, but most small businesses were either unaware of its benefits or were finding it time-consuming, bewildering, and frustrating to find the best solution for their needs and their budgets, to customize it to get optimal results, and to train their staff to use it. It has been a rewarding experience to help organizations meet those objectives.

The best parts about being an entrepreneur at my age are being able to work autonomously, free of bureaucratic obstacles and petty office politics. I also appreciate being able to collaborate with other independent professionals on many of my projects, and my relationship with my clients is one of mutual respect as we work towards a common goal. I enjoy both the responsibility and the authority required to achieve win-win results.”

– Michele Engel, 60, President/CEO, Insightrak

23) “I am the CEO of Safian & Rudolph Jewelers, a 3rd generation, 60-year-old, family jeweler and President of the Philadelphia Jeweler’s Row Association. I currently run the business with my son Rich, President of Safian & Rudolph. I’ve taught my son everything he knows about the diamond business – just as he learned from his father-in-law Manny Safian, who started the business six decades ago with friend and fellow jeweler Ray Rudolph.

Prior to becoming an integral part of the family jeweler, I was the director of catering at the Philadelphia Marriott. I brought a corporate mentality to the mom-and-pop business with my management and marketing experience which enabled Safian & Rudolph to grow into the successful high-end jeweler it is today. My passion for the industry and unique experience allows me to thrive as an entrepreneur over the age of 60.”

– Hy Goldberg, 68, CEO, Safian & Rudolph Jewelers

Become an entrepreneur at any age by starting up a small business! MyCorporation is here to help you get your start-up off the ground and running. Leave a comment below, or give us a call at 1-877-692-6772!

Leave a Reply

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