10 Inspirational Stories of Successful Entrepreneurs Who Started from Scratch

10 Inspirational Stories Of Successful Entrepreneurs Who Started From Scratch

Ralph Lauren: Selling Ties from a Drawer

Ralph Lauren is now a household name in the fashion industry, but this was not always the case. In the 1960s, Lauren started out by selling ties from a drawer in a showroom in New York. He initially struggled to sell his ties as they were unlike the wide and brightly colored ties that were in style. However, Lauren persevered and eventually gained recognition through his unique designs. He expanded his business by adding men’s and women’s clothing lines as well as furnishings and accessories. Lauren now has a net worth of $7.2 billion and remains a major player in the fashion industry.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd. Innovation and creativity can go a long way in building a successful business.

Arianna Huffington: From Failed Politician to Huffington Post

Arianna Huffington’s journey to success was far from easy. She ran for governor in California in 2003 but failed to win. Later that year, she launched The Huffington Post, which initially struggled to gain popularity. Huffington continued to push her vision for the website and was eventually successful. In 2011, AOL acquired the website for $315 million. Today, The Huffington Post is one of the largest news websites in the world.

Takeaway: Failure is not the end; it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks, keep pushing forward.

Steve Jobs: From College Dropout to Apple

Steve Jobs is known for co-founding one of the most successful technology companies in the world, Apple Inc. However, not many people know that he was a college dropout. Jobs and his co-founder, Steve Wozniak, started Apple in Jobs’ garage in 1976. The company initially struggled, but eventually became one of the most successful tech companies in history. Jobs’ vision and determination played a major role in Apple’s success. He was not afraid to take risks, and this mindset drove Apple’s innovation and growth.

Takeaway: Don’t let your past failures hold you back. Success is still possible, no matter your education or background.

Oprah Winfrey: From Poverty to Media Mogul

Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul, philanthropist, and cultural icon. However, she did not have an easy start in life. Winfrey grew up in poverty and was raised by her grandmother. Despite these challenges, she pursued a career in media and eventually landed her own talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show became one of the most successful talk shows in history, and Winfrey’s influence expanded well beyond television. Today, Winfrey is one of the most influential people in the world.

Takeaway: Your past does not determine your future. Hard work, determination, and vision can take you places you never thought possible.

Richard Branson: From Student Magazine to Multi-Billion Dollar Empire

Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group, a conglomerate that includes over 400 companies. However, Branson’s start in business was much more humble. He started his entrepreneurial journey by launching a student magazine when he was 16. The magazine quickly gained popularity, and Branson eventually began selling records by mail order. From there, he expanded his business ventures, eventually founding the Virgin Group. Branson’s focus on innovation and customer experience has been a key driver of his success.

Takeaway: Start small and focus on your passions. Success can come from the most unexpected places.

J.K. Rowling: From Unemployment to Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling is one of the most successful authors in history. However, her path to success was not easy. After being fired from her job as a secretary, Rowling found herself living on government benefits. During this time, she began writing the first book in the Harry Potter series. The book was rejected by multiple publishers, but Rowling continued to persevere. Eventually, she found a publisher who believed in her work. Today, the Harry Potter series has sold over 500 million copies and has been translated into 80 languages.

Takeaway: Don’t give up on your dreams. Perseverance and determination are key to achieving success.

Sara Blakely: From Selling Fax Machines to Spanx

Sara Blakely is the founder of Spanx, a shapewear and intimate apparel company. Prior to founding Spanx, Blakely worked selling fax machines. She came up with the idea for Spanx while getting ready for a party and realizing she didn’t have the right undergarment to wear with white pants. Blakely invested her life savings of $5,000 into developing the product and eventually launched Spanx. Today, the company is a global brand with over $1 billion in sales.

Takeaway: Sometimes, the best ideas come from everyday problems. Don’t be afraid to pursue your ideas, even if they seem too simple.

Elon Musk: From PayPal to Space Exploration

Elon Musk is one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of our time. He co-founded PayPal, which revolutionized the way people make online payments. However, Musk didn’t stop there. He went on to pioneer the electric car industry with Tesla, and is now working on space exploration with SpaceX. Musk’s vision and drive to solve big problems has been a major factor in his success.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to dream big. Innovation and solving big problems can lead to great success.

Jan Koum: From Food Stamps to WhatsApp

Jan Koum is the founder of WhatsApp, a messaging app that has revolutionized the way people communicate. However, Koum’s start in life was far from glamorous. He immigrated to the United States from Ukraine with his mother when he was 16. They lived off of food stamps and government assistance. Koum started learning programming, and eventually landed a job at Yahoo. He went on to found WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion in 2014.

Takeaway: Hard work and dedication can overcome even the toughest obstacles. Keep pushing forward, even in the face of adversity.

Bill Gates: From High School Student to Microsoft

Bill Gates is one of the most well-known entrepreneurs in history. He co-founded Microsoft, the world’s largest software company. However, Gates’ start in business was much more humble. He started programming at a young age, and went on to Harvard University. However, Gates dropped out of college to start Microsoft with his childhood friend, Paul Allen. Gates’ vision for personal computing revolutionized the technology industry and made him one of the richest people in the world.

Takeaway: Passion and vision can trump education. Pursue your passions, even if it means taking a different path than what society expects.


The stories of these successful entrepreneurs show us that success is not always easy or straightforward. However, with hard work, perseverance, and innovation, anyone can achieve their goals. Whether it’s starting a business, launching a new product, or pursuing a dream, these entrepreneurs inspire us to keep pushing forward, no matter what obstacles we may face.

Key Takeaway

Success is not determined by your past, education, or background. Pursue your passions, take risks, and never give up on your dreams. Innovation and perseverance can lead to great success.

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