Start a Business at 59 Years Old?

by Krantcents · 34 comments

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Would you start a business at 59 years old?  Bob Chinn did!  His seafood restaurant is the highest grossing restaurant in the United States.  It is not in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles!  It is in Wheeling, Illinois.  It is just thirty (30) miles from Chicago.  It grossed $24 million in annual revenue (without alcohol sales)!  Not bad for an old guy.

What is remarkable is he started this restaurant in 1982 when he was 59 years old.  Thirty (30) years later, he is on top of the heap and has no intention of quitting or retiring!  He spends six (6) months out of the year in Hawaii, probably the winter.  At eighty-nine (89) years old, he is slowing down a little.  There is something in finding your passion in life.  “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” (Confucius).

Everyone talks about finding your passion in your career, but it is actually tough to do!  What are you good at?  What are your skills?  What makes you special?  These are just a few of the questions to help you figure out what you should do with your career or life.  Passion usually follows skills and what you enjoy doing.  Maybe, it is time to take inventory of your skills?

What do you like to do well enough that you would not mind spending twenty (20) hours a day doing?  Twenty hours may be an exaggeration, but you get the idea.  It could be a product; you have been tinkering with or thinking about for years or a service.  What is it about it that excites you?  The product or service may be revolutionary or very ordinary, but it solves a problem.  It doesn’t matter, but you have to believe in it and willing to work to make it happen.

Sometimes, it was a side job or hobby that turns into a business.  Some people find careers in sports because they just love the game even if they can mot play the sport.  I know a few people who made a career of performing business activities for professional sports or coaching or selling professional sports products.  Think about why you like something and why it excites you.  For some, just selling hot dogs at the baseball stadium may be a choice.

What do you spend your time doing?  Do you read the sports section every day?  Can you imagine spending your life or career doing something in sports, entertainment or some other industry doing something?  There may be only eighteen (18) thousand people in professional sports, but there are literally more like a hundred (100) thousand people who support the professional athletes.  So you can find something you would love to do.

What have you been dreaming, fantasizing or working on all these years?  I always thought that writing for a living would be a cool career.  There are no limitations, you can do it anywhere and it would be fun.  I never thought it was possible until I tried doing it.  What ridiculous idea do you have and never tried?  Maybe you should try it and see if you can make it successful!

What are you waiting for?  You don’t have to quit your day job to try it out.  Too many of us never even try to find our passion or when they do, talk themselves out of experimenting with it.  Could you fail?  Of course, you can fail, but you will never know unless you try.  Most, if not all successful people fail before they succeed.  They even fail along the way, but they pick themselves up and keep trying.  This is what distinguishes successful people from unsuccessful people.

Wrap Up

Finding your passion is difficult, but worthwhile.  Look at the things you enjoy and want to spend you time doing.  You need to try things out and you may even make a mistake or two, but don’t let that defer you.  Everyone who is successful makes mistakes, but they find what works for them.  Bob Chinn started, ran and even owned a lot of businesses before he started his current restaurant.  I love the idea that he started it at fifty-nine (59) years old and is still involved thirty (30) years later.  It shows his passion for the business and it is paying off handsomely.  Would you start a business at 59 years old?

Photo by: Pierre-Olivier

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Liquid August 13, 2012 at 1:41 am

Good for him. It’s never too late to start a business. As long as we’re living we have to do something, so might as well make some money while we’re at it. As long as we have interests, we’ll have skills. As as long as we can market our skills the money will follow. Right now I’m not really good at anything and don’t have a degree yet, but I want to start a business of my own some day, hopefully before I’m 59 though. It will be something that I’m passionate about. I just don’t know what it is yet :)

Krantcents August 13, 2012 at 6:49 am

Keep looking and you will find it. I did when I was in my early thirties! Right now , acquire the skills and experience so you will be ready when that opportunity comes along.

Nurse Frugal August 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I hear you! I want to start up something too….I’m thinking something in the medical field, maybe I can invent something fabulous for nurses ;) I think I remember reading that the owners of Chick Filet started their business when they were older also, they are making a killing despite everything ;)

Krantcents August 14, 2012 at 6:48 am

I don’t think you should be concerned with “when” as much as “if” you should start something. Starting a business requires passion which can come at any age.

Lance@MoneyLife&More August 13, 2012 at 6:42 am

I hope I am able to start a business at 59… I just hope of isn’t my first! I have started my blog on the side as a fun gig and I think it would be great if it took off!

Krantcents August 13, 2012 at 6:53 am

It wasn’t his first business, but it was his most successful! Your 20s and 30s are great times to try things so go for it.

Debt Free Teen August 13, 2012 at 7:47 am

So inspirational. My brother is going to college in Chicago-we will have to check out the restaurant!

Krantcents August 13, 2012 at 9:48 am

It has to be good when you do that kind of volume! See if you can talk to Mr. Chinn. It might make a interesting interview.

Greg@ClubThrifty August 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

I think I’ve finally found something that I love doing – again. Now, the trick is trying to get it to make some money:)

Krantcents August 13, 2012 at 10:00 am

Can you develop it on the side? If you can, that is a great way to start before you make the leap. Good luck.

444 August 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I have spent a few years working up to it and still haven’t hit my stride yet, but I am trading stocks and options, which is different than investing. I love it! It’s not easy or stress-free, and every minute of it is not as fun as the one before, but I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t love it (I hate folding laundry and sure enough, the laundry almost never gets folded around here, LOL.)

It took me a while to realize that if it’s what I want to do, it will be no one’s fault but my own if I don’t even make my best attempt at it, and no matter how much others might discourage it from a general standpoint, it’s up to me and only me to decide that I’m up for the challenge.

Krantcents August 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm

If your choice does not affect anyone but yourself go for it. When I went into business, I had a wife and two children so I had to think of them as well as myself.

444 August 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Well, I am thinking of them and I want it to affect them – positively. That’s why I’m doing it, as a matter of fact.

Krantcents August 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm

It didn’t stop me, but I needed a plan B! I also exercised a little more caution.

Brent Pittman August 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I think is awesome to start a new venture or new career at the later years of life…so much wisdom and connections!

Krantcents August 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm

It is also a lot of work, but it may help an older person rejuvenate themselves.

Barbara Friedberg August 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Ray Kroc also got into McDonald’s in later life as well. Age is just a number… energy, enthusiasm, determination all make for success, age is irrelevant.

Krantcents August 14, 2012 at 6:51 am

I agree, but a thirty year career is unusual when it starts at 59 years old! I bet he is passionate and energetic at work.

Tie the Money Knot August 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I’ve actually been to that place! Never knew that it was started by someone of that age. Inspiring, and goes to show that things can happen later in life. With age, we have wisdom that is waiting to be utilized!

Krantcents August 14, 2012 at 6:57 am

I think he probably knew a lot of people to help him too. A restaurant that size ($24 million in sales) takes a lot of people to make it work. At 59 years old, you cannot do it without a lot of good people.

Marissa @ Thirtysixmonths August 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Thats insane. 24 million is a huge amount for any restaurant, let alone one located there. Good for him.

Krantcents August 14, 2012 at 6:58 am

At that level he is probably making a huge profit too! That is what allows him to spend 6 moths in Hawaii every year.

Jason Clayton | frugal habits August 14, 2012 at 8:50 am

I love hearing stories like this. I truly hope that “taking risks” and “enjoying what I love” defines my life. I have no plans to retire in the traditional sense, but plan to do something until I leave this earth. Starting a business at 59… sounds like a great idea.

Krantcents August 14, 2012 at 9:10 am

Go for it! There is no reason to wait until you are 59 years old though.

Roger @ The Chicago Financial Planner August 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Great post. We used to eat there pretty often, not so much anymore. Good food and they have the serving process down to a science. Bob has quite a reputation for “handling” the female wait staff (this even made the Wall Street Journal a few years ago), I wonder if he still has that “passion” at age 89?

You have to give him credit the food is always good and consistent and the lines are out the door on weekends.

Krantcents August 25, 2012 at 8:03 am

I do not have personal insight, but my mother loved her work (although reduced) even when she was in her early 90s.

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