RETIRING was supposed to give one of Canberra's best-known entrepreneurs, Paul Donaghue, more time to do nothing. But instead, he had a tumour the size of a cricket ball taken out of his body, lost the sight in one eye and started another business.
In 2010, Donaghue sold his string of Magnet Mart hardware stores, which he had built up over 38 years, to a Woolworths-backed conglomerate and he has now re-emerged - in low-key fashion - on the business scene.
This time, he is making and selling his own range of uniquely designed golf clubs and his base is a modest-sized commercial space in Fyshwick that does not even have a sign over the door.
''If you've got the ideas in your head, I think you should follow them through,'' he says, standing outside the shopfront.
For a year he has been exporting small numbers of clubs to the US - expected to become his major market and one he likens to selling coal to Newcastle. But the enterprise officially opened for business this month.
The idea, he says, started with a humble putter.
Many modern putters have what is called a directional head, an arrow, which helps the player aim the ball at the hole.
Donaghue has patented the idea of leaving a gap between the arrow and the head of the putter, making it easier for golfers to focus on where the arrow points.
The 78-year-old, who started playing golf later in life, says he had the idea six years ago, before he sold his hardware business.
''A lot of research and development has gone into it.''
The parts for the golf clubs are made in China and assembled in Fyshwick.
The territory has the highest rate of business start-ups in the nation, but also the worst business survival rate in Australia.
Of the 24,825 businesses operating at the end of 2007-08, 59 per cent were still operating at the end of 2011-12. Nationally, the survival rate over the same period was 61.8 per cent.
During the same period, the total number of businesses operating in the ACT grew by 3.2 per cent, whereas nationally the growth rate was 2.9 per cent.
The rate of entrepreneurialism in Canberra has sparked an idea. The ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Andrew Blyth says he is not surprised a golf export business has been started in the territory and he is determined to find other ACT business people who are forging a unique path.
''We're going to run an innovation conference in October 2014, to discover who the other Paul Donaghues are out there in Canberra,'' Blyth says.
The Sunday Canberra Times has reported on a number of unique businesses operating out of Canberra.
These include the multimillion-dollar celebrity gossip website Who's Dated Who, owned by Alex Mair and run from Manuka, as well as Fat Zebra, an online payments enterprise owned by Matthew Savage and Pred Dragila, which competes with the likes of PayPal, SecurePay and eWay.
In Blyth's opinion, the ACT needs to mature into the centre of a business hub - its rightful position when using the following calculation: Canberra + two hours' drive = 800,000 people and at least 26,000 businesses.
''I genuinely believe this is untapped,'' Blyth says.
Adding to the optimism of innovators is continuing talk of regular international flights for Canberra Airport. ''We're very pleased to hear the discussion around direct flights from Canberra to Singapore - this has the ability to change the city if we allow it,'' Blyth says.
''Business tourism [to the territory] sits at 38 per cent at the moment and you'd expect that to grow.''
He says Canberra Airport's ability to move freight 24 hours a day is an undersold aspect of the national capital.
Back in Donaghue's Fyshwick shop, his associates and a couple of visitors are using the Point N Putt putter on a synthetic green to see how how many balls they can sink.
One of the staff holds the record of 31 in a row and has the number written on his own putter.
Golfers who buy a club at the store must have the club fitted to them and Donaghue says they will use a computer program to analyse a person's putting strokes.
Donaghue's team includes PGA professional golfer Craig Smith, who carries the title of master club fitter, as well as industrial designer Peter McKay, who worked on Canberra's famed revolving house in Crace.
McKay says designing the head of a golf club is extremely difficult because of its organic shape.
Other clubs being launched into the market include two wedges - a sand wedge and a lob wedge.
As with the putter, these clubs also have unique design features, in this case distinctive furrows across the back of the club so it slides more easily through the sand and grassy lies around the golf course.
Donaghue is experienced at leading people. At its peak, Magnet Mart employed about 300 workers at five locations.
The acquisition of his stores in 2010 was one of the first steps by Woolworths into Australia's $36 billion hardware market dominated by rival Bunnings.
Donaghue opened the first Magnet Mart in Phillip in 1972. He subsequently expanded his business into five locations in Canberra and the southern highlands.
At the time, Donaghue said: ''When we started, the hardware industry was a cottage industry … But now it's a different ball game.''
Now, it really is an entirely different ball game.