My father started his company at 46. He had just been evicted from the affiliate of a major company he started 8 years before. His cofounder plotted for 3 years to take over it with the amused blessing of the top management, and as he succeeded, starting something new seemed the only way out.
I’ll remember how scared he was when he told me about it all my life. It was Friday. I was shaving with that red Wilkinson razor I had back then, about to leave for a weekend in a monastery I used to spend time then. He knocked at the door and told me one thing:
Please, pray for me. I’m starting my own company.
Because he was incredibly upright and professional, many of his clients followed him. And because of this integrity, they stayed after he died of cancer 3 years later, allowing my mother to sell the company so she could live and raise my sisters without worrying about money. If someone tells you “nothing personal, it’s business”, they’re lying. Business is incredibly personal.
Everything was not easy. When I decided to study computer science in that private school, he could not afford paying the 9000€ yearly fees. I had to work to pay them, as a teacher and a freelance journalist.
Everything was not easy, but after starting and bringing so many things to success, I’m sure that’s what he had been waiting for all his life.
Since I was born, I remember him building a school from French kids in Saudi Arabia (and creating a computer room filled with Apple II and not that crappy French TO7), starting a successful theatre company, an association to help unemployed executives to find a new job, a car rally, a book about the history of our family house over the centuries, he became the mayor of the village we had our country house at and built a leisure complex… Every time something was becoming too big, he simply stepped away and started something else. He was a starter and a builder, not a politician and a manager.
He started and was involved in so many things my mom once threatened to leave him and go back to France, so they started something together. At, 40 they went back to school during 2 years and studied to be horticulturists so they could take care of the garden.
When he told me he was about to start his own company, I didn’t understood what it meant. It’s only 15 years and 3 startups later that I realised my father was a true entrepreneur.