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Successful Entrepreneurs

10 Successful Entrepreneurs Who Started With Nothing

An entrepreneur is a person who combines other factors of production that are land, labor, and capital, and takes the risk of starting a new business venture. In the article, we will be covering 10 successful entrepreneurs who started their businesses with limited resources.

Getting started with a business is never easy, but it can be more tough when you don’t have much to start with. However, some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world started with nothing but just a dream.

1. J.K. Rowling: “The Magical Wordsmith”

First on our list is Joanne Rowling commonly known by her pen name J.K. Rowling who is a British author and philanthropist. J.K faced many challenges before becoming a successful author.

She was a single mother living on welfare when she wrote her first book “Harry Potter”. She faced rejections from multiple publishers before finally finding one who published her book. Even after the book was published, she faced criticism from some religious groups who claimed that the book promoted witchcraft.

Even with all these challenges, she persevered and went on to become one of the most successful authors of all time. The level of her popularity can be known by the fact that over 600 million copies of her book Harry Potter were sold globally.

She keeps her finances private so we may never know if Rowling is a billionaire but one thing is for sure she has easily made over a billion dollars in her career. She has made it to our list as her life journey is a great inspiration for all women.

Her quote,

It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.

teaches a vital message that failure is natural and we shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. By embracing failure and learning from our mistakes, we can become stronger and more resilient and ultimately achieve our goals.

2. Richard Branson: “The Maverick Tycoon”

The second person on our list is Richard Branson, who started Virgin Records with just a few hundred dollars, and since then, he has built an empire of over 400 companies. He faced many challenges throughout his career as an entrepreneur.

One of his biggest challenges was overcoming his dyslexia, which made it difficult for him to succeed in school. Branson also faced financial challenges early in his career and had to borrow money from family and friends to start his first business. He also had to deal with setbacks and failures, including the failure of Virgin Cola. He has always innovated new ideas to tackle different challenges.

One example was when he started Virgin Atlantic, which faced complications like government regulation, investor suspicion, and tough competition from existing and well-established firms. His exclusive idea of offering a more comfortable environment than traditional airlines, with services such as in-flight massages and a bar. Despite these obstacles in his career, he has continued to innovate and build successful businesses.

In June 2023, Forbes listed Branson’s estimated net worth at US$3 billion. This quote reflects his belief in taking risks, pursuing your passions, and learning through experience. He has made it into our list as his story is rousing for the young generation and shows anyone can achieve success, regardless of their background or resources, as long as they are willing to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and stay focused on their goals.

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and falling over.

Richard Branson

3. Ben Francis: “Britain’s Youngest Billionaire”

Third on our list is Benjamin David Francis. He started sewing his workout gear as a 19-year-old college student and pizza delivery guy in 2012.

He started it in his parent’s garage with one sewing machine. Limited resources were not a source of demotivation for Ben. Instead, he focused on how he could make the best of these resources.

The hurdles he faced, Ben Francis has become Britain’s youngest billionaire through his workout gear company named “Gym Shark” with a stake of over 70% in Gym Shark, which investors currently value at $1.45 billion. Francis had a net worth of $1.3 billion as of April 2023.

Success is not a destination; it’s a journey and you have to keep moving forward.

Success is not a destination; it’s a journey and you have to keep moving forward.

Ben Francis

This quote reflects the mindset of Ben and reminds us that we should never relax if we wish to be successful and we should continue to innovate so that we can sustain our success.

4. Kevin Plank: “The Fitness Innovator”

Fourth on our list is Kevin Audete Plank, who is an American billionaire businessman and philanthropist. Plank is the founder of the renowned sportswear manufacturing brand “Under Armor “.

He didn’t have thousands of dollars to finance the startup. Instead, he used his personal savings, credit card, and small business administration loan. He initially ran the business from his grandmother’s townhouse. Under Armor’s first shirt was #0037, which Plank sold from his car. As he didn’t have sufficient funds for advertisement, he asked his former teammates to try on shirts, requesting that they pass them out to other players in their dressing rooms.

Regardless of all of these hardships, Plank was determined to make his business flourish. His determination enabled him to achieve his ambition as his net worth as of October 2021 was estimated at US $ 1.8 billion.

He has quoted,

My grandma used to tell me that when you are getting kicked from behind, that means you are in front.

This quote reflects his belief in the importance of perseverance and resilience. The quote suggests that setbacks can be a sign of progress, as they indicate that you are moving forward and making progress toward your goals.

He has made it into our list as he has revolutionized the athletic apparel industry by combining performance and style through innovative fabrics that are being sold worldwide.

5. Oprah Winfrey: “The Media Mogul”

Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and media proprietor. Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi. She has encountered many challenges since her birth.

She entered the world under the care of a young, single mother., so she rarely had a stable place to live. Other than the financial difficulties, she has stated that she was molested by her cousin, uncle, and a family friend at a very young age and had also faced discrimination.

Oprah worked hard and became a successful media personality, and she continues to inspire others with the lessons she has learned from her past experiences.

With an estimated net worth of 2.5 billion dollars, Oprah is one of the richest self-made women in America, according to Forbes. Her quotes keep motivating many all around the globe. Her quote

Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe

teaches that having an optimistic outlook on life can have a powerful impact on our future. By envisioning our goals and aspirations most positively and grandly possible, we can create a mindset that is focused on success and achievement.

She has made it into our list as she was the richest African American of the 20th century and was once the world’s only black billionaire. By 2007, she was often ranked as the most influential woman in the world.

6. Steve Jobs: “The Father of Digital Revolution”

Steve Paul Jobs was an American business magnate, inventor, and investor. He was the pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s. Steve is most famous for co-founding one of the world’s selling mobile phones, Apple’s iPhone.

He overlooks many challenges in his career, including being adopted as a baby, dropping out of college, and being fired from his own company. Apple was started in his garage with his friend Steve Wozniak. They worked tirelessly to create the first Apple computer but struggled to find investors. They eventually secured funding from a local computer store and were able to launch Apple II, which became a smash hit. However, Jobs was eventually ousted from the company he founded due to disagreements with the board.

After a period at another company, Jobs returned to Apple and helped to launch the iPod, iPhone, and iPad which revolutionized the tech industry. His grit and dream helped him overcome numerous obstacles and establish Apple as one of the world’s most successful businesses.

In 1978, at the age of 23, Jobs net worth was over $1 million (equivalent to $4.49 million in 2022). By age 25, his net worth grew to an estimated $250 (equivalent to $805 million in 2022).

 His quote,

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower

Tells us that the main difference between a leader and a follower is the trait of innovation. He has made it into our list as he is extensively known as one of the most successful and influential businesspersons of the modern era and has played a key role in creating some of the most innovative and successful products in the tech industry. His personal story of success, including his struggles and failures, can serve as an encouragement to other businesspersons.

7. Warren Buffett: “The Oracle of Omaha”

Warren Edward Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is currently the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathway. In the early days of his career, he struggled to find investors to back his investment company, which he started with a relatively small amount of capital.

His investment philosophy was based on value investing, which involved buying stocks in undervalued companies and holding them for the long term. This tactic was unusual at the time, and many investors were unsure of its potential for triumph. Buffett also faced difficulties in convincing others to trust him with their money, as he was comparatively unidentified in the investment world at that period.

In addition to these external problems, Buffett also fought with anxiety and self-doubt. He has spoken openly about his terror of failure and his struggles with anxiety, which he says have been disturbing him throughout his life.  

He remained dedicated to his investment philosophy and continued his effort to build his company. Over time, his track record of success and his reputation as a savvy investor helped to attract more investors to his company.

Today, Buffett is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors of all time with a net worth of $112 billion according to Forbes as of June 2023.

Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No. 1

Warren Buffett

This quote reflects Buffet’s mindset that made him 7th richest person globally. His success story teaches us that knowledge is always more significant than experience. It offers you the ability to make decisions that you can use to amass wealth and fortune.

Also Read: The Literature of Warren Buffett: a Guide to His Favorite Books

8. Walt Disney: “Uncle Walt”

Walt Disney was the founder of Disney. He faced many challenges throughout his career, including financial difficulties, creative differences with his partners, and health problems.

Facing financial hurdles, he started with a cartoon studio in his garage. Disney’s first animation studio went bankrupt in 1923, which caused him to move to Hollywood and start over. He also struggled to find funding for his first movie, “Snow White and the seven dwarfs”.

Moreover, Disney faced criticism from some people who thought his films were inappropriate for children. He successfully tackled these challenges, remained committed to his vision, and continued to innovate.

At the time of his death in 1966, his net worth was estimated to be around $5 billion in today’s dollars. However, it’s worth noting that much of Disney’s wealth was tied up in the company that he founded, The Walt Disney Company, which has since grown into a multi-billion-dollar media and entertainment conglomerate.

One of his most famous quotes is.

If you can dream it, you can do it

This quote reflects Disney’s belief in the power of imagination and the importance of pursuing one’s dreams and aspirations. He has made it into our list as he is a cultural icon and a highly influential figure in the entertainment industry.

9. Elon Musk: “The Rocket Man”

Elon Reeve Musk is a business magnate and investor. He is the founder, CEO, and chief engineer of SpaceX; angle investor, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; owner, CTO, and chairman of Twitter; founder of the Boring Company and X Corp; co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI; and president of the philanthropic Musk Foundation. He faced several obstacles before making his fortune.

Musk grew up in South Africa and moved to the United States to pursue his education. He dropped out of Stanford University to start his first company, Zip2, which was eventually sold for almost $300 million. He then found, which later became PayPal, and sold it for $1.5 billion.

Musk faced many challenges, including being ousted from his own company and dealing with multiple failed business ventures. However, he persevered and went on to found SpaceX and Tesla. He also faced barriers when he tried to launch SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket. The rocket failed to launch three times in a row, and the company was running out of money. Musk invested all of his funds into SpaceX and decided that the fourth launch would be the last attempt. The fourth launch was successful, and SpaceX went on to become one of the most successful rocket companies in the world.

His net worth is almost $235 billion.  One of his most famous quotes is

When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in favor.

This quote reflects his determination and willingness to take risks in pursuit of his goals. It also highlights his belief that persistence and hard work are key to achieving success, even in the face of daunting challenges.

He has made it to our list as he is the wealthiest man in the world and has set an example for all other entrepreneurs that anything is possible if we work hard.

10. Jack Ma: “The Master of E-Commerce”

Jack Ma Yun is a Chinese billionaire business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He is a co-founder of Alibaba Group, which is one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world.

Ma Yun looks forward to many challenges before becoming a successful entrepreneur. He grew up poor in China and failed his college entrance exam twice before finally being accepted into a teacher’s college. After graduation, He applied for more than 30 jobs and didn’t succeed in getting any of them. He eventually started his English language school, which was successful.

When he founded Alibaba in 1999, he faced tough competition from established e-commerce companies and struggled to find funding. Additionally, he faced criticism from some people who felt the company was promoting fake goods. Despite all the failures, Ma never stopped working hard, and this determination directed him to success.

As of June 2023, with a net worth of $34.5 billion, Jack Ma is the 39th wealthiest person in the world, ranked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure

Jack Ma

This quote reflects his determination to stay committed to his goals and never give up despite the tough conditions. If u keep trying it you will achieve success. He is included in this article as his story is a classic rags-to-riches tale that is an inspiration for people all around the globe.


All of these personalities have taught us a really important message

The key to success is to focus on goals, not obstacles

No matter how tough the challenges are to achieve an ambition, the only thing that matters is how hard you are working to achieve it.

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