4 Famous Entrepreneurs Who Didn't Make It Until After 30

Books Potter Rowling
Bill Haber/APJ.K. Rowling was 32 before her first book was published.

As I fast approach my 30s, I find myself tabulating what I've accomplished in the 27 years of my life. I'd like to believe that at some point each of us will have an aha! moment in which we realize, "Yes. This... this is what I want to do with my life." And then we do it. But until we reach that moment, we read magazines plastered with "30 is the new 20!" or "40 is the new 30!" to convince ourselves that we are not letting life pass us by.

But at times, it's easy to wonder whether we'll ever figure out what we want to do with our lives, especially when prodigies much younger than us seem to be popping up left and right. While we whittle away our time at our jobs, waiting for our life map to fall into our lap, yet another Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Jack Dorsey makes it big before the big 3-0.

But here's the thing. The magazines are right: 30, 40 or 50 is the new 20. Or at least it can be. Forget the whipper-snappers who have had their aha! at age 25. Many successful folks don't figure things out until they've been on this earth for three decades or more.

J.K. Rowling

The author of the Harry Potter series didn't publish her first book until the age of 32. She was a recently divorced single mom at the time, working on a book that had taken years to complete. But she figured out what she wanted to do and set her mind to it. Rowling just had to wait for the rest of the world to catch on to her genius -- which it did.

Suze Orman

A favorite financial guru of many (including myself), Suze Orman started out as a waitress and held that job until age 30. And she didn't publish her first financial book until age 44. Nowadays, she's sittin' pretty as one of the most-trusted voices in the world of personal finance.

Ray Kroc

A childhood without Happy Meals and a pregnancy without McDonald's cheeseburgers is hard to imagine -- for me, anyway. If Ray Kroc had quit pushing, quit trying before the age of 52, he never would have created one of America's best-known restaurant empires. He kept at, working day in and day out at his restaurant until he died.

Dave Ramsey

While Dave Ramsey thought he'd figured things out in his 20s with his $4 million real estate portfolio, he lost it all by the time he hit 30. A few years later, he found his passion in financial counseling, and today his books and radio show have millions of dedicated fans.

No need to settle just because you've turned another year older. Forget all the smug 20-somethings who have figured it out. Good for them, but they've got nothing to do with you. Keep on keepin' on, and someday you, too, will be saying, "aha!"

Joanna and Johnny are the writing duo behind OurFreakingBudget.com, a personal finance blog documenting the joys, pains and realities of living on a budget.

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Originally published