A relative's brush with death helped inspire Ray Simmons, an appliance and electronics technician with experience in video surveillance, to start his own corporate surveillance business at age 52.
His son-in-law was once held at gunpoint while the store he worked in was burglarized, Simmons said.
"I offered to place a video surveillance system in the store to assure his safety, and to be able to catch the criminals' faces if they came back," Simmons wrote in an e-mail to ABCNews.com. "This started something with me, as I saw how it affected that business in a positive way. His employees felt safer, and they felt like someone cared about them. I felt good knowing I had given someone security and peace of mind."
Simmons founded Stealth Security Services in Marietta, Georgia, in 1998. Today the company employs more than 20 people and sees revenues of more than $1 million a year.
Starting the company, Simmons said, helped him ensure a standard of customer service that he found lacking at his previous employer. Its customer service is what's made Stealth successful, he said.
"We are there for them (Stealth customers) when they need us," Simmons said.
Jill Boehler was a speech pathologist for some three decades before launching a business called Chilly Jilly, which makes different types of wraps that can be used as shawls, scarves or sarongs.
She decided to make the move after suffering through frigid air conditioning at a restaurant in 2006, prompting her friends to tease her at the time with the name "Chilly Jilly."
Boehler, president and founder, said she was always someone who thought of various ways to improve a situation -- and did so for her work by publishing teaching materials for adults who lost their speech, for example, after a stroke.
"I couldn't just go to work. I had to think of something to do to make it better," she said.
A year after that ice-cold dinner, she started selling the wraps and the company now has several different lines, along with gloves, that run in high-end boutiques, Bed Bath & Beyond and QVC.
Chilly Jilly made $300,000 in gross sales last year, doubling its sales from the year before that.
At age 58, Boehler said previous experiences at work and with her children's education have helped her learn how to negotiate and deal with the difficult situations that can come up in business.
"With age," she said, "comes patience."
After 26 years in the electrical system testing business, Mose Ramieh was ready for a change.
"I had worked for a lot of companies both large and small and made a lot of money for folks and decided it was time for me to make some for myself," he said.
So in 1996, Ramieh said hello to self-employment and founded Power and Generation Testing Inc. in Nashville, Tennessee.
Working in the Nashville area for years before starting his own company provided Ramieh with a network of potential clients.
"It was a matter of letting them know I was in business for myself and they started calling," he said.
Today, Power and Generation Testing employs 14 people and has more than 100 clients, including Bridgestone Firestone and Vanderbilt University, Ramieh said.
Now 67, Ramieh said he's thought about retiring but he's not sure if he ever will.
"I have too much fun," he said.