There’s nothing like a good rags-to-riches story; they remind us that even the wealthiest of entrepreneurs started on the bottom rung, but with a lot of grit and determination – and many bumps and knock backs along the way – they’ve made their business(es) into successful empires. We’ve brought together six of our favourites to inspire you for 2017:
Lord Alan Sugar
Lord Alan Sugar is a self-made multi-millionaire, perhaps most famous for pointing the finger and ‘firing’ poorly performing contestants on The Apprentice. Brought up on a council estate in Clapton, Hackney, he watched his dad struggle to support the family, never knowing from one week to the next if he’d have a job. In his autobiography What You See Is What You Get, Lord Alan Sugar shares his highs and lows, from setting up his own company at the age of 19 to the dark days when he nearly lost it all.
Last year, Lord Alan Sugar wrote a guest post for Company Check. Read it here: http://hub-new.companycheck.co.uk/sugar-5-business-tips
Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson came 19th in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, with a net worth of £4.52 billion. His days of entrepreneurship started when, at the age of 16, he dropped out of school to start a
youth-culture magazine called Student. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group which comprises more than 400 companies including Virgin Active, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Mobile. Well-known for his modesty, Sir Richard Branson told the Guardian: “If I ever gossiped or said anything negative about anybody, my parents would send me to the mirror. It taught me that looking in the mirror for five minutes at yourself is not very pleasant, and it taught me to look for the best in people, and to praise people rather than criticise people.”
Read more about his story here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/197616
According to Business Insider, Ralph Lauren wrote “millionaire” as one of his life goals in his high school yearbook. Today the American fashion designer has a net worth of over $6 billion, with one of the world’s most successful fashion empires. In 1967, while working for Beau Brummell, Ralph Lauren began designing his own men’s neckties with a wider cut, branding them under the name “Polo”. He has since expanded his brand to include a luxury clothing line, Ralph Lauren Purple, a home-furnishing collection called Ralph Lauren Home and a set of fragrances.
Read The Guardian’s interview with Ralph Lauren here: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2015/oct/02/its-not-about-fabric-its-about-dreams-how-ralph-lauren-created-an-empire
Canadian-born Guy Laliberté studied the performing arts at school, left college at 18, and then spent a couple of years hitchhiking around Europe as a busker, picking up fire-breathing, juggling and stilt-walking from other street performers. He cofounded Cirque du Soleil – one of the biggest live entertainment groups in the world – in 1984 when the Canadian Government awarded him a $1 million contract to develop a celebration for the 450th anniversary of the discover of Canada. Despite selling his 90% stake in the company to TPG Capital and Chinese investment group Fosun in 2015, his net worth is still estimated at $1.33 billion, according to Forbes.
Read more about Guy Laliberté’s rags-to-riches story here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/2795213/Cirque-du-Soleil-juggles-money-and-magic.html
J K Rowling
Harry Potter may be a household name, but J K Rowling admits she received “loads” of rejections from book publishers when she first sent out the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was given the green light by London publishing house Bloomsbury in 1997, and later turned into an award-winning film in 2001. At the time of writing her first Harry Potter novel J K Rowling was “as broke as you can get without being homeless. Income support. Young baby. Just enough money for a deposit on a grotty flat.”
J K Rowling speaks to the Big Issue here: http://www.bigissue.com/features/interviews/6860/jk-rowling-interview-harry-potter-in-the-21st-century
Oprah Winfrey has a net worth of $3 billion, and in 2015, was the only black woman on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in America. She is most famous for her self-named TV programme, The Oprah Winfrey Show, but is also an actress, director/producer and philanthropist. Born in rural Mississippi, Oprah Winfrey didn’t have an easy childhood; she was shuffled between family members in her early years and grew up around extreme poverty. One of her most well-known inspirational quotes is “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.”
Listen to Oprah Winfrey’s story here: http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/win0int-1