We don’t all start in the same place, and don’t have the same advantages. We hear about many entrepreneurs that have created and nurtured their own empires, but it is easy to write that off when you don’t know the climb they went through to get there. Many entrepreneurs have a unique quality that works for their business, many know where their strengths lie, and some just put in the hard work required. Here are just a few entrepreneurs that started from nothing and built their businesses the old fashioned way: from the ground up.
John Paul DeJoria
DeJoria did not come from a glamorous upbringing, in fact, he grew up in a household that struggled largely in making ends meet. His parents immigrated to America when he was young, and as a boy he tried to contribute by selling newspapers and Christmas cards. DeJoria eventually entered the foster care system because his family could not support themselves, and it affected his youth greatly. He went on to be involved in criminal activity, then joined the military, and eventually lived out of his car. However, through this he was able to get a $700 loan that gave him the ability to start the John Paul Mitchell Systems. He was so dedicated to his line of hair care products that he went door to door selling them, and his brand eventually came to be worth millions. Additionally, DeJoria also went on to create Patron tequila, solidifying his spot as a billionaire. DeJoria’s life may have not started out with many advantages, but his belief in his products and his drive to go out and pedal them earnestly was rewarded.
Do Won Chang
This may not be a name you have heard of, but even those outside his clientele know of his store. Do Won Chang created a leader in the young adult clothing sector that grows in popularity still, known as Forever 21. Chang got his start in the United States as an immigrant from Korea. He and his wife arrived in 1981, and did not come with a substantial amount of money to their names. He made ends meet by working jobs as a janitor, gas station attendant, and barista. he worked long, difficult hours to save up for a goal he and his wife had, which was to open a clothing store. Eventually they saved enough money to make this happen through hard work. This store eventually came to be the international brand known as Forever 21, which is now a billion dollar company. Chang worked his way up the old fashioned way, by working hard and saving up even if it wasn’t glamorous. His daughters now help run the company, showing that anyone can achieve the American dream to make a better life for themselves and their family with some hard work.
Most are familiar with the name Richard Branson, but he didn’t always have the success he has today. Born in England, Richard struggled in school from a young age due to dyslexia, eventually dropping out at age 16. He was then met with financial struggles due to working minimum wage jobs. Eventually he started a small music magazine meant for students, which turned out to be largely successful for a student-run publication. A successful first year that sold over $8,000 in advertising allowed Branson to spread the magazine for free. This was propelled into a record label from an idea by Branson to expand into a mail-order music label and then a record shop. This gave him the adequate funding to build a recording studio. Aspiring groups were signed to his label that went on to become huge stars. Virgin Records became a major player in the music industry. Branson was able to venture into airlines and more. His success has allowed him the opportunity to explore other industries and continue to spread his business out among growing business ventures. Branson constantly says that if he had stayed in school things would be much different.
This entrepreneur took a different path than most; he started as a street performer! Knowing school was not his path, he started using his unique creative talents to make a living, including things like eating fire and walking on stilts for change. He saved up, and eventually obtained the money that allowed him to bring a Quebec-based entertainment troupe to the LA Arts Festival, knowing he may not have the money to buy them a return fare home. However, he believed in this troupe and believed that others would see the potential that this art form had. This troupe became Cirque du Soleil, which Laliberté is now the CEO of. Cirque du Soleil proved to be captivating to audiences and now tours internationally, has regular shows Vegas, among other achievements. Laliberté used his unique perspective and the belief in Cirque du Soleil’s quality of work to grow a multi million dollar business.