Everyone loves a good rags-to-riches story. To be honest, there is nothing more inspiring for an entrepreneur than the story of someone who once stood in the same position, who managed to make it big with sheer determination and perseverance.
So here are 4 successful entrepreneurs who started with nothing and went on to build empires.
1. Harland Sanders
The founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken didn’t have it as easy as one may assume. After years of jumping jobs, trying and failing at everything from railway employment, a legal career, selling life insurance, starting a boat company and later a lamp manufacturing company, Colonel Sanders finally came to the food business at the age of 40. Even then, clashes with competitors, burnt motels, and World War II destroyed his chances again.
After the war, it took several attempts for Sanders to finally taste a sliver of success. But this time, it stuck. He went from restaurant to restaurant, convincing managers to partner with him. KFC expanded internationally and the company was sold for two million dollars. Today, there are around 24,000 KFC outlets across 145 countries and territories around the world.
2. John Paul DeJoria
John Paul DeJoria is the epitome of the American dream. Born to a single mother and growing up in a foster home DeJoria even resorted to stealing food in order to survive. After dropping out of high school DeJoria joined the Navy and later got a job as a door-to-door salesman at Manhattan Beach, California.
In 1980, DeJoaria along with Paul Mitchell sought to start a cosmetic business with the $700 they had with them. Today, he is worth $US600 million after successfully co-founding two billion-dollar companies: Paul Mitchell hair care products and Patron tequila.
3. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah’s story is a pat on the back for anyone who believes their past defines them. After surviving a childhood of sexual abuse and overcoming the trauma of losing a child, she followed her passion for the public eye and won the title of Miss Black Tennessee at the age of 17.
Even though she began her television career early, it was filled with experiences of discrimination and humiliation. When she began running her own show, the ratings were so high that the show was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. Eventually, she took full ownership of the show and even began her own production company.
4. Narayana Murthy
Even though born into a poor family in rural India, Infosys founder Narayana Murthy had big dreams. After completing his studies, he took up a job as the Chief Systems Programmer at IIM. After working on India’s first time-sharing computer system and designing a basic interpreter for Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), he launched his first company called Softronics. Unfortunately, the firm didn’t succeed and Murthy was forced to shut it down after just 1.5 years and take up another IT job.
However, the failure could not despair Murthy. In 1981, he borrowed ten thousand rupees from his wife and started Infosys, which would later grow into India’s second-largest IT company of all time.
These are just a few examples. What entrepreneur hasn’t been through tough times? The key is to not give up and to keep on fighting. So the next time you feel like giving up, remember these rags-to-riches stories and be inspired to continue on your journey. Success is just around the corner!
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