Entrepreneurial Success Stories
This page accompanies the chapter, Are You Ready for This (Yes, You Can Be a Business Owner), in the book, Hire Your Job, Fire Yourself. Here you’ll find several additional and updated stories of successful entrepreneurs.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
John Paul DeJoria Lived In His Car Before Paul Mitchell
John DeJoria’s parents divorced when he was a toddler and he was the first generation in his family to be born in America. Eventually he was sent to a foster home in Los Angeles, California. He became a gang member before straightening himself out in the military. He eventually got a job working for Redken Laboratories. When he left, he took out a $700 dollar loan and cofounded John Paul Mitchell Systems. He sold the company’s shampoo door-to-door, living out of his car while doing so. Now JPM Systems is worth over $900 million annually. He also started Patron Tequila and dabbles in numerous industries including the diamond industry and the music industry. He is a multi-billionaire.
Howard Schultz Grew Up in Brooklyn Projects Before Starbucks
Howard Schultz grew up in the Bayview projects of Canarsie, in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a truck driver and later, when his father got injured, his family became extremely poor. He always wanted to climb “over the fence” and go beyond the lifestyle he lived. He focused on his athletic ability and was able to earn a football scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan. After graduating with a communications degree, Schultz worked for Xerox. He learned about a small roasting company and became their CEO in 1987 and helped them grow into a beverage and retail company. Schultz is now a billionaire.
Samuel Walton Milked Cows and Delivered Newspapers Before Wal-Mart
Almost everyone in developed countries worldwide has heard of Wal-Mart. But most are not aware that it’s founder had very humble beginnings. Growing up during the Great Depression, Sam helped his family financially by milking the family cow, bottling the surplus, and driving it to customers. Then he delivered newspapers on a paper route. During college he worked multiple jobs including waiting tables in exchange for meals. He served in the Army during World War II and when he got out, he started managing a variety store at the age of 26 and he not only learned the industry, he thought about innovations to improve the business. He took out a loan to buy his first store and soon was able to profit enough to soon buy a second one. Later he opened the first Wal-Mart in 1962 and when he died in 1992, he had 1,960 Wal-Mart stores and 380,000 employees. Walton was ranked by Forbes as the riches person in the United States from 1982 to 1988.
Jan Koum Was a Poor Ukrainian Immigrant Before the $19 Billion Sale
Jan Koum was born and raised in a village near Kiev, Ukraine. His house had no hot water. At the age of sixteen, he and him mother immigrated to California and lived on food stamps. For work, he swept the floor of a grocery store. By eighteen, he was not only in love with computers, he was an expert computer hacker. He ended up getting hired by Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer. After buying an iPhone in 2009, Koum realized that the apps industry would explode. He cofounded WhatsApp Inc. in 2009, a mobile messaging startup. In February 2014, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook bought the company for $19 billion.
No One Wanted Oprah’s Childhood
Oprah Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and was raised in an inner-city neighborhood in Milwaukee. She speaks openly about the intense hardships she experienced including years of sexual abuse between the ages of nine and thirteen. She even ran away from home. She became pregnant at the age of fourteen and her son died in infancy. While in high school, she got a job in radio and by the age of nineteen, she was co-anchoring the local evening news. She eventually got transferred to the daytime-talk-show arena because of her emotional ad-lib delivery. Her wildly-famous talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, became the highest-rated talk show in history and she became a millionaire at the age of thirty two. Her net worth hovers around three billion dollars and she is the richest self-made woman in America and the richest African-American in history. She earned the title of “Queen of All Media.”
Larry was an Adopted Dropout Before Founding Oracle
Larry Ellison was born to an unwed Jewish mom, contracted pneumonia, and was adopted by his aunt and uncle. Although his adoptive mother was warm and loving, his adoptive father was unsupportive and distant. Although smart, he didn’t focus in school. He attended two different colleges but dropped out of both. He got interested in computer programming and bounced from job to job until he and two partners founded Software Development Laboratories (SDL) in 1977 with a $2,000 investment. The company won a contract to develop a relational database system, code named Oracle, for the CIA and also created a similar consumer product. They changed the company name to Oracle in 1982 and he has been one of the top five richest men in America since 2011 and now has a net worth around $36.5 billion.
You CAN Do This!
NOTE: This section was adapted directly from the book, Fire Your Job, Hire Yourself.
Do you have problems? Are you poor or struggle with making ends meet? Has there been devastating things in your life (death, divorce, rape, violence)? Do you lack education? Do you have a language barrier? Have you been told that you’ll never amount to anything?
In the above section, you read story after story of people who had extremely difficult life situations. Yet, they all became billionaires. These are extreme cases, right? Wrong! The odds of you ever becoming a billionaire are slim, however, there are a ton of millionaires all around you.
Before you discount your chances of financial success, think about this: In 2014, there were nearly 500,000 new millionaires in the U.S. in 2014, according to a new report. According to Spectrem Group, there are now 10.1 million households in the U.S. that can be considered millionaires (this excludes the value of their primary residence).
10.1 million! That’s 10,100,000 households! Guess how many of these own their own company? Most do! What percentage of the population strongly desires to start and run their own business? Ten percent! How many will overcome their fear and actually step out and do it? Hmmm…
So here’s the big question: Why not you? There is absolutely NO reason why you can’t be in this group! In fact, you are increasing your odds because you’ve either bought this book or are seriously considering buying it. Do yourself a huge favor and either hold on to this book and keep looking until you find a better one on the shelf (good luck), or buy this book. But either way, do not walk away empty handed! Now is your opportunity to change the rest of your life. You will significantly increase your chances of becoming successful by reading a quality book, like this one, on the subject of starting your business.
Some of the billionaires got lucky and the stars all aligned just right for them. Why not stack the deck in your favor and align some of those stars yourself to increase the chances that your dream will become a reality? As Nike’s motto says, JUST DO IT!
An entrepreneur is willing to temporarily live a life like no one else will, so he can eventually live a life like no one else can!
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.“ –Henry David Thoreau
Additional Resources Showing Benefits of Owning a Business
There is some good information explaining the benefits of owning a business.
“Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” – Theodore Isaac Rubin
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