You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.
Time and again we have heard inspirational tales of people fighting against odds and coming back from the brink of defeat to taste success. Not only do these tales inspire us but they make us simply applaud the individuals who did it. This is because we know that winning isn’t easy and winning while the odds are against you is definitely not a piece of cake.
Here are 8 truly inspiring stories of self-made billionaires who rose from absolute nothing to having everything!
1. Roman Abramovic (Businessman & Investor)
The billionaire steel magnate and owner of EPL football team Chelsea started out from the bottom. After losing both his parents at an age of 2, Abramovic was brought up by his relatives. He inherited no fortune from his parents and while pursuing education started selling imported plastic toys from his apartment. As business grew, Abramovic established a doll making company and eventually ventured into oil business. As the leader of Sibneft Oil Company, Abramovic completed a merger with state-run Gazprom company for a record $13 billion.
The self-made billionaire bought Chelsea Football Team in 2003 and now owns the largest Yatch in the world which costs a whooping $400 million.
2. Howard Schultz (CEO, Starbucks)
Howard Schultz lived in the housing complex for the poor when he was young. His father was a truck driver and the sole bread winner for the family. As a kid, Schultz always wanted to jump “over the fence” and experience a different kind of lifestyle his family was not able to provide him. After winning a football scholarship that landed him in University of Northern Michigan, Schultz managed to get a job at Xerox. This was when he founded a small coffee shop called Starbucks.
Driven by the will to grow his coffee shop further, Schultz left Xerox to take over Starbucks as the CEO in 1987. Beginning with 60 shops, the coffee outlet has now expanded to over 23,000 stores in 65 countries. Howard Schultz has a net worth of $3.2 billion.
3. Steve Jobs (Founder, Apple)
One of the most renowned digital thinkers and innovators of 21st Century, Steve Jobs had to fight off financial constraints to become a successful entrepreneur. The founding father of Apple had to drop out of school because the tuition fee was becoming a burden for his parents to pay. He used to return back Coke bottles for extra money and lived on free meals at the Hare Krishna Temple during Apple’s early days.
Here’s one inspirational video of Steve Jobs sharing his life lessons with graduates at Stanford University.
4. Richard Branson (Founder, Virgin Group)
From a dyslexic kid to becoming one of the most powerful business magnates in the world, Richard Branson has defied many odds to come out successful. There was a time when Branson was continuing his record business from the crypt of a church. Now, he is one of the richest people in UK with a net worth of $6.5 billion. Richard Branson has his hands full and is involved in many businesses – from record labels and mobiles to banking and aviation.
5. John Paul DeJoria (Founder, John Paul Mitchell Systems)
The first-generation American, John Paul DeJoria had to sell Christmas cards and newspapers when he was young to make ends meet. He was part of a street gang before joining the military. With a loan of $700 he started John Paul Mitchell Systems and sold shampoos door-to-door while living in his car. The quality of Paul Mitchell hair products was soon recognized and DeJoria went on to net a fortune through it. He is currently valued at $3.1 billion.
6. Chris Gardner (Investor & Stock Broker)
He is the real-life character behind the inspirational Hollywood movie “Pursuit of Happyness”. Chris Gardner had a troublesome childhood, abused by his father and sent off to a foster home. His troubles continued as a grown-up when he lost an entire life savings and his wife left him with a young child in custody.
Gardner took up an unpaid internship in a brokerage firm before establishing himself as a stock broker. During his time as an unpaid intern, Gardner had to deal with homelessness along with the pain of raising a toddler kid. Today, he is an entrepreneur, investor, motivational speaker and author with an unshaken reputation around the world.
7. Walt Disney (Entrepreneur & Animator)
The creator of famous cartoon characters including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh, Walt Disney had to endure a lot of challenges to establish a name for himself in Hollywood. Raised up as a farm boy, Walt Disney drew pictures for his neighbours to earn money. While in school, he and his brother had to get up at 4:30 am in the morning to deliver newspapers. This went on for six years.
Though Disney was a cartoonist for his school newspaper, he had to go through an elaborate period of joblessness after school. With the help of his brother, he started working in an advertisement company and later started to animate his advertisements to earn an indisputable reputation for himself. Walt Disney has won a record 22 Academy Awards for his work in animation – a feat never matched by anyone.
8. Do Won Chang (Founder, Forever 21)
Moving to America from Korea in 1981, Do Wan Chang had to shuffle between 3 jobs (janitor, gas station attendant and waiter in coffee shop) to support his family. He was eventually able to realize his dream of opening a clothing store in 1984. That single store has grown into Forever 21, a clothing retail chain with over 600 stores in Americas, Asia and Middle East. The retail stores generate around $3 billion in sales every year and has catapulted Do Won Chang’s net worth to $4.7 billion.
Anything and everything is possible through grit, determination and hard work. Hope these stories motivate you to follow your dreams.