Many great success stories have humble beginnings. The road was usually filled with challenges and overcome by pure grit. True entrepreneurs are predisposed to certain characteristics by frequently taking risks and taking on random opportunities most would shy away from. Entrepreneurs are the innovative go-getters of society. The characteristics that drive them are in some way inherent in each individual. They all possess the ability to overcome obstacles, believe in their dream, and stick with it.
The greatest entrepreneurs are those who transform businesses, unlock opportunities for others, and alter the way we all think and live. They are revolutionaries of sorts. What they accomplish impacts lives for generations. They’ve changed masses of individuals and filled gaps that sorely needed filling. The following entrepreneurs picked themselves up by their bootstraps and changed many lives along the way. They represent a cross section of differing fields ushering in a modernity that was needed at the right time.
Some of the names below may not be familiar, but the influence of their accomplishments is tremendous. The lessons we infer from their ingenuity, spirit, and fortitude, areas invaluable as our organizational leadership degree. Their self-effacing inception is about as inspiring as it gets.
THE 7 MOST INSPIRATIONAL ENTREPRENEURS
Blake Mycoskie: Recognized as the man who started the One for One shoe faction. At the tender age of 33, Blake has created a successful business. TOMS shoes is a for-profit company that donates one pair of shoes to a child in a poverty-stricken country for every pair sold. TOMS is a perfect example of a business that is profitable, but manages to give back at the same time.
Madame C.J. Walker: Brought into the world in the South during the late 1800s to former slaves, Ms. Walker’s prospects were minimal at best. In the face of the many misfortunes that befell her, she had what was needed to persevere and accomplish something no African-American woman, or any other woman at that time, had attained. She became the first female self-made millionaire in America by introducing a hair-care line for African-American women. Ms. Walker was a single parent with just $1.25 in her pocket when she began. During a time when women in general were not seen as “business minded,” she opened the doors for many women who came after her.
Steve Jobs: Jobs attended only one semester of college, proving that ambition, will, and intelligence is just as important to success as a round of daily college classes. During a point in his life, Jobs was returning empty cans in order to eat and sleep at a friend’s place. At 20 years of age, he started Apple from his parent’s garage. Just 10 years later, Apple was flourishing and valued at $2 billion. Jobs was eventually fired from Apple, but went on to develop other companies like NeTX and Pixar. Eventually, he was hired back at Apple, where the company thrived through his guidance, becoming the most innovative technology company in history.
Oprah: At times, people are inspirational merely due to how far they have come in their life. Oprah Winfrey is such a person. She has been repeatedly identified as the most inspirational woman of our time. Oprah dramatically changed her life from a wayward teen to a media mogul. Many adore her because of her openness and generosity; she makes success seem natural.
Walt Disney: Walt Disney is an inspiration to both kids and adults. It all began with the drawing of a mouse! From that moment, he created a multi-billion dollar empire through theme parks, screenwriting, and film. Disney treasured the beauty of the imagination he believed, “if you can dream it, you can do it,” and he did it wonderfully.
Mary Kay Ash: Everyone, both young and old, have heard of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay’s stronghold was her benevolent outlook on life work and family. She once told her employees to “put God first, family second, and work third,” She lived by her words, turning Mary Kay into a multi-million dollar business.
Henry Ford: Henry Ford was the founder of the Ford Motor Company. Through hard work and innovative ideas, he became one of the richest and most renowned individuals in the world. At a tender young age, Ford worked as a watch repairman. He began his career as an engineer in 1891 and developed a company in 1899 that failed. Not to be deterred, he established the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and the rest is history.
Some of the above-mentioned entrepreneurs are still with us and others have passed away. Still, the path of inspiration they left behind beats in the hearts of many. Nonetheless, in truth, we are all entrepreneurs. We all posses a certain drive, will, and originality to meet each day’s challenges.
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