8 DIY Entrepreneurs Who Will Inspire Your Inner Boss

8 DIY Entrepreneurs Who

Who Will Inspire Your Inner Boss

We’ve heard it many times, from famous entrepreneurs: before making-it they were honing their entrepreneurial skills by selling lemonade on the corner, delivering newspapers, washing cars, and selling old toys and household products at the garage sale.

The entrepreneurial spirit is a palpable force that inspires others to become the best that they can be. Below are eight entrepreneurs who are remarkably impressive in their drive and determination to succeed in the land that practically birthed the notion of entrepreneurship.  

Howard Schultz shot by Joao Canziani for Fast Company

Howard Schultz

Founder and CEO of Starbucks, has an estimated net worth of $3 billion. He spent his childhood in Brooklyn, New York in the Canarsie Bayview Housing Projects. The son of a truck driver, Schultz’s first big break came with a sports scholarship to Northern Michigan University where he earned a degree in communications. After graduation, he took a position as the director of marketing at a small Seattle coffee bean shop called Starbucks. But Shultz left in frustration after they failed to share his vision of opening cafes that would serve coffee, espresso and tea. Instead, Schultz opened his own coffee shop, Il Giornale in 1985. Just two years later he was able to purchase Starbucks from the original owners and scale it into the world’s most recognized coffee shop.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah rose from a life of hardship and adversity, in rural Mississippi, to become one of today’s most influential TV hosts and media moguls. Winfrey had to overcome poverty, sexual abuse and her own teenage pregnancy. Today, she is considered one of the richest African Americans of the 20th century, and one of the most powerful celebrities in the world. In addition to publishing two magazines, she runs her own production company as well as the television network, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in collaboration with Discovery Communications. Oprah has a net worth of $3 billion.

John Paul DeJoria

John’s start in life was anything but easy. One of his teachers even stated that he would “never succeed at anything in life.” He was the second son of an Italian immigrant father and a Greek immigrant mother growing up in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. His parents divorced when he was two years old. At nine he began selling Christmas cards and newspapers with his older brother to support his family. When his single mother could no longer provide for both children, they were sent to a foster home. DeJoria spent much of his youth in a street gang in East Los Angeles, but his teacher’s comments motivated him to become successful. After graduating in 1962, and a stint in the U.S. Navy, he held various odd jobs including a janitor, encyclopedia salesman, a gas station attendant, and insurance salesman. Eventually he landed in the hair care industry and in 1980, he secured a $700 loan together with Paul Mitchell to found John Paul Mitchell Systems. Today the company has annual revenues exceeding $900 million, and boasts a personal net worth of an estimated $3 billion.

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon, CEO of Las Vegas Sands, is perhaps best known for his efforts to bring a little of Las Vegas to the rest of the world. The son of Ukrainian immigrants, he grew up in the poor Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. His entrepreneurial beginnings included selling toiletry kits to motels. He attended City College in New York but later dropped out to join the U.S. Army. He achieved millionaire status while working as a financial consultant advising companies how to sell shares of ownership on Wall Street. Today, he is listed in the Forbes 400 as the eighth wealthiest American with an estimated personal wealth of $32.4 billion.

J. K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling famed author of the Harry Potter books, left for Portugal after her mother’s death to become a teacher and ended up marrying a Portuguese TV journalist. They were barely together for one year before they separated; the separation was exacerbated by her getting fired from her teaching job. Unemployed and a single mom, receiving a welfare check of 70 pounds per week, Rowling recalled having to spend time in cafes just to stay warm because she couldn’t afford to pay for heating. She endured suicidal thinking and felt like a failure. But also remembered experiencing a newfound freedom to write, and completed the first three chapters of Harry Potter. Rowling then took her infant daughter to Edinburgh, Scotland in order to be closer to her sister.  

In 2004, Forbes named Rowling as the first person to become a U.S. -dollar billionaire by writing books, the second richest female entertainer, and the 1,062nd richest person in the world. In 2012, Forbes removed Rowling from their rich list, claiming that her US $160 million in charitable donations and the high tax rate in the UK meant that she was no longer a billionaire.

Shahid Khan

Shahid is one of the wealthiest people in the world, boasting a net worth of approximately $4.5 billion. But when he came to the United States, in his late teens, he was earning $1.20 per hour washing dishes, while attending the a University of Illinois. After graduating in 1971, Shahid became the engineering director for Flex-N-Gate, a car manufacturing company. He started his own company, Bumper Works, in 1978. His company manufactured car bumpers for the major car manufacturers in the United States, and then became the sole supplier for Toyota. He also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL team and Fulham Football Club, a professional soccer club in the English second tier.

Do Won Chang and Jin Sook

A husband-and-wife team, opened their first clothing store in 1984. After moving to the U.S. just three years prior, Do Won worked as a janitor, gas station attendant and as a barista, simultaneously, just to make ends meet. Their store, Forever 21 is now an international chain, with 480 stores, and a net worth of $5.9 billion.

Courtesy of Twitter

Lori Greiner

Lori started with one idea and turned it into a multi-million dollar international brand. She is now regarded as one of the most prolific inventors of retail products, having created over 400 products, and holds 120 U.S. and international patents. Well-known as the “Queen of QVC,” Greiner has hosted her own show, Clever & Unique Creations by Lori Greiner, for over 16 years. In 2012, she joined the TV series Shark Tank and has been called the “warm-blooded shark.” In her company Scrub Daddy, a company which produces a texture-changing household sponge, sold more than 2 million in a single day, on QVC. Scrub Daddy still reigns as “the biggest success story in Shark Tank history,” with sales over $75 million and a growing product line in numerous stores, and in March 2014, she published the book: “Invent it, Sell it, Bank it!-Make Your Million Dollar Idea into a Reality.” It reached number #3 on the Wall Street Journal’s best seller list.   

Stephen Doyle

"Steve Doyle, originally from Philadelphia, holds a B.A. Professional Writing from Penn State University. He's a blogger, short-story writer and has created several hundred marketing content pieces for clients such as: JC Ehrlich, Ambius, Henckels & McCoy, DDC Group, Burns Logistics Solutions, Inc., etc. Steve is an award-winning, highly skilled communicator who loves to help get others' stories told in as an engaging manner as possible."

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