Famous entrepreneurs are known for turning their passion into a business. Have you ever wondered how these entrepreneurs started to ignite change in their respective industries? Whether you’re a new or seasoned professional, you can gain insight into the success of these entrepreneurs by studying their patterns. So, how did the famous entrepreneurs make it big in the business industry? Find out in this list of the top 7 famous entrepreneurs and their stories.
Famous Entrepreneurs & Their Entrepreneurial Beginnings
1. Steven Spielberg, Award Winning Director, and Producer
Who wouldn’t know the man behind these great movies – Schindler’s List, Private Ryan, Jurassic Park, A.I Artificial Intelligence and War of the Worlds? Yes, Steven Spielberg is the man behind these films. An American producer, director, and screenwriter who became famous in the film industry, his science-fiction and adventure movies gained him fame.
The Young Director
His entrepreneurial spirit started with Firelight, his first 140-minute independent film. His father funded most of the movie which cost $500. However, he was able to earn the funds back when it was shown in a local cinema.
Fast forward to a more mature Spielberg, he landed a 7-year contract after studio vice president Sidney Shienberg was impressed by his Amblin film. This made him as the youngest director to be offered a long-term deal in a major Hollywood studio, which classified him as a successful entrepreneurs early on!
What Separates Spielberg from Other Directors
His intuitive inspiration to produce films gained him the audience’s applause in the movie industry. However, despite all the blockbuster movies, Dreamworks, Steven Spielberg’s company, went into debt. It was then sold to Paramount, but this didn’t stop him from producing more movies.
It was actually his enthusiasm to produce high-quality movies that put his films on par with current movie industry trends. He even came up with recent movie hits such as The BFG (2016) and Transformers: The Last Knight (2017). Another upcoming movie Ready Player One, set to be released next year, is expected to get high ratings as well. He is in his 60’s now, but his dedication to making more blockbuster movies is still ripe.
2. Walt Disney, Disney Brothers Studio Co-founder
Mickey Mouse, you say? How about Donald Duck? Walt Disney is the widely recognized creator of these characters. He was an American animator, film producer, and entrepreneur. A pioneer in the American animation industry, he introduced developments in cartoon productions.
How It All Started
Walt Disney was fond of drawing and took art classes at an early age. He got a job at the age of 18 as a commercial illustrator. Mickey Mouse came to life and became a huge success in 1928. This was 8 years after he set up Disney Brothers Studio with his brother Roy.
As the studio grew, he was able to successfully create animated films such as Cinderella and Mary Poppins. The latter of which won 5 Academy Awards.
However, this success wasn’t as easy as it seems. He grew up with a father who was a strict disciplinarian. His father would give him and his brother Roy “corrective beatings.” Drawing was his outlet from this traumatic childhood experience. Thus, the creation of a fantasy world where everyone is happy and everything is pleasant, also known as Disneyland.
Now, with Mickey Mouse considered a cultural icon, he’s been credited as a great influence among the young generations of animated film makers today.
3. Thomas Alva Edison, America’s Greatest Inventor
An all-time famous entrepreneur known for the light bulb invention was America’s greatest inventor Thomas Edison. Among the other devices he also invented are the phonograph and the motion picture camera. Home schooled by his mom, he never attended formal schooling. Then at age 16, he began selling newspapers and candies on the train.
The Entrepreneur with at Least 15 Companies
While on the train, he studied qualitative analysis and conducted chemical experiments. After that, he was able to sell newspapers on the road after granted an exclusive right. He then began typing and printing Grand Trunk Herald, among his other papers with the help of his 4 assistants. This led him to discover more business ventures giving birth to General Electric and 14 more companies. Today, General Electric is still one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world.
His legacy wasn’t just about the inventions per se. One example would be running the manufacturing industries over low cost operations and innovations patterned specifically to the needs of the people. Thomas Edison actually created innovations that, technically speaking, not only made lives easier but also made a lasting impact which improved how industries and corporations worked now. To exclude him from this list of famous entrepreneurs would be a gross oversight.
4. Oprah Winfrey, The Oprah Winfrey Show Host
Oprah Winfrey is another on the list of famous entrepreneurs. Her The Oprah Winfrey Show is one of the highest rated television programs, which has made Oprah the “Talk Show Queen.”
The Younger Oprah
Born into poverty, her teenage single mother raised her. She was molested and became pregnant at 14, though her son died during infancy. It was at this time that she started living with her father.
Launching of The Talk Show
At age 19, she got her first job at a local evening news as co-anchor. She transferred to a morning talk show when the local Chicago talk show rated first place. Afterward, she launched her own production company, the Oprah Winfrey Network. Since then, it became popularly known and syndicated internationally.
Oprah Winfrey is now very influential in the shaping of the American culture. She didn’t let poverty, sexual abuse or any other factors get in her way of addressing the plight of those in trouble and in need. Instead, she made sure to provide solutions to their problems. Anything she features on her shows becomes chart-toppers or the newest trend.
5. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Co-founder
For the past decade, we’ve focused on making the world more open and connected. We’re not done yet and we will continue working to give people a voice and help people connect. But even as we make progress, our society is still divided. So now I believe we have a responsibility to do even more. It’s so important that we’re changing @facebook’s whole mission to take this on. It’s not enough to simply connect the world; we must also work to bring the world closer together.
Social media has seen great change since Mark Zuckerberg’s co-creation of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is also ranked as the 5th richest person in the world by Forbes.
Early Computer Days
He started using computers and writing software in middle school. One of his early computer programs was “ZuckNet”. It’s a communication tool which was actually the first version of AOL’s Instant Messenger.
The Harvard Student
He was already a programming prodigy by the time he entered Harvard, where he began making programs such as CourseMatch and Facemash. After this, he began writing a code for a new website now called as Facebook. By this time, he was just a sophomore.
However, three Harvard seniors filed a lawsuit against him. They accused him of using the ideas for Harvard.com. In the end, they agreed on a settlement. He then dropped out of Harvard after launching Facebook and decided to pursue working on it. He was granted an honorary degree from Harvard last May, 2017.
By starting Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg’s mission was to bring communities together by giving every person a voice. It has been the consistent goal of the company all throughout. Facebook is reaching out to countries and regions without access to the internet. He hopes to empower both entrepreneurs and big companies to realize their role as a bridge in building connections.
6. Bill Gates, Microsoft Co-founder
The revolution of personal computers wouldn’t have taken place if it wasn’t for Bill Gates. Bill Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft, the world’s largest PC software company.
An Expert in Programming
It was at the age of 14 while taking classes at Lakeside School when he first took an interest in programming. He then wrote his first computer program named tic-tac-toe, which allowed users to play games against the computer. He graduated from Lakeside School as a National Merit Scholar and entered Harvard College taking up graduate level computer courses and a pre-law major.
While a Harvard student, he didn’t have a definite study plan but spent a lot of time using the computers in school. He left Harvard after two years when he saw an opportunity to start his own computer software company. Microsoft was established after the release of the MITS Altair 8800 based on the Intel 8080 CPU.
Though Bill Gates no longer holds a position in Microsoft, he remains an adviser to the company. He wasn’t just a famous entrepreneur in the field of computers but also became a social figure as well. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they donate billions of dollars in support of all causes across the globe.
7. Steve Jobs, Apple Inc. Co-founder
That partly bitten apple logo was an idea from no other than Steve Jobs. He was an American entrepreneur — popularly known as the co-founder of Apple Inc.
How Apple Inc. Started
Steve Jobs was adopted at birth. He went to Reedley College for a brief time before dropping out. In 1976, he and co-founder Steve Wozniak sold the Apple I personal computer. They also established Apple Inc. at this time. Considered as the first successful personal computers highly produced, Apple II shortly followed. Pixar, a new company that he financially supported, produced Toy Story. It was the first movie of its type as a computer-animated film shown in full.
How Apple Inc. Came Back
The merging of Apple and NeXT took place around the year 1997. Heading for bankruptcy by this time, Apple Inc. came back after Steve Jobs became CEO. He worked with Jonathan Ive which led to the development of products which made a significant impact in modern technology: iMac, iTunes, iTunes Store, Apple Store, iPod, App Store, iPad and the iPhone.
Here is a video of an inspiring message given by the late Steve Jobs during his Stanford Commencement Speech in 2005:
Which of the famous entrepreneurs do you think most closely matches your goals? While not every path to becoming an entrepreneur, perseverance will certainly work to your benefit. As Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc. said in a 1995 interview conducted by Computerworld Information Technology Awards Foundation, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
Do you have other famous entrepreneurs in mind who didn’t make this list? Share them with us in the comments section below!