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Late Bloomer

If you're just now realizing you're an entrepreneur at heart, not to worry. Here's why starting a business after 40 could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

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This story appears in the October 2003 issue of Start Up.

You've let entrepreneurship remain in your dreams all these years. But maybe now that the kids are grown and you've spent 20 years or more as someone else's employee, your dreams are roaring to the surface. You're in your 40s, 50s or 60s, and you're feeling the undeniable pull of the entrepreneurial life. "Since 9/11, people in general are not waiting to realize certain dreams," says Kris Zeile, business coach and president and founder of The Coaching Consortium in Barrington, Illinois. "People in their 40s and 50s are motivated to try something new because they realize they don't have unlimited time."

Many entrepreneurs over 40 have already embraced the "no time like the present" mentality. To hear these entrepreneurs tell it, starting a business later in life was the best thing that ever happened to them. It was a blessing in disguise to Ron Meritt, founder of Meritt Electronics, when he was laid off from his corporate job at the age of 44. In his former career, he saw a pattern forming. Meritt would get hired by companies to set up service and management processes. Once he'd get the processes up and running--which generally took about three and a half to five years--he'd get laid off. "I worked myself out of a job," says Meritt, now 49. After cycling through the hire/work hard/layoff process this last time, Meritt had an epiphany. He didn't want to find himself in his mid-50s and laid off again. "I thought, 'I'd better take that leap of faith now.'"

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