Successful business owners aren’t born, they’re made. Every CEO and every mogul had to start somewhere in order to make it to where they are now – and where they start out is usually very different from where they end up. Perhaps you’ve been giving yourself a hard time about having to hold down an internship while you build your empire. You’re not alone. These four famous entrepreneurs’ journeys prove that what really matters is where you’re going, and how you get there is nothing more than a really good story to tell one day.
Warren Buffett – billionaire, former chewing gum salesman
Long before Warren Buffett was known as the “Wizard of Omaha”, or more formally “the second richest man in America”, he went door to door selling gum. When he was only six years old, Warren would buy packs of gum from his grandfather’s store and then sell them to his neighbours in the evening. As a preschooler, Warren had the entrepreneurial spirit within him that would one day make him a mogul. He had a string of odd jobs during his childhood, including selling the paper and detailing cars. Even as a teenager, Warren was sharpening the investment skills that would make him $53 000 by the age of 16.
Giorgio Armani – fashion tycoon, former window dresser
The name Armani is synonymous with luxury and high-end fashion, but it’s hard to imagine the fashion house’s successful founder dressing windows at a department store – and yet that’s exactly how Giorgio Armani’s career in fashion began. In his earlier years he had trouble settling on a career, going from studying medicine to joining the army until eventually changing his mind again and getting a job at a department store as a window dresser. It would be this job that inspired him to become a fashion designer, so after freelancing for several years (and being successful at it), he decided to open his own fashion label. And ever since he has been setting the standard for Italian luxury.
Jeff Bezos – founder of Amazon, former rancher
It’s common knowledge that Amazon, the ecommerce website that has become a staple in people’s everyday shopping lives, started out as an online ebook store. But what very few people know is that the website’s founder used to castrate steers and do other farm work on his grandparents’ cattle ranch. Later on he would go on to work at McDonald’s, a job he admits to not enjoying at all. A solid education and some risky career moves (like quitting his job at D.E Shaw’s hedge fund) would push Jeff Bezos closer and closer to founding Amazon. And a little tenacity and patience after that would see him through growing pains, a downturn, and eventually an ecommerce giant.
Steve Jobs – tech visionary, former telephone line hijacker
Before the late Steve Jobs became the genius mind behind the Apple empire, he was messing around in his garage with his friend Steve Wozniak when they discovered that they could build their own blue boxes. Blue box phones or “blue boxes” were telephones that produced tones used in the telephone system to switch long distance calls. However, users could enter operator mode which then allowed them reroute their calls however they wanted, free of charge. As teenagers, Jobs and Wozniak figured out how to make their own blue boxes and had apparently made $600 before they stopped after almost being bust by the police. The pair would go on to work on many more inventions which would form the foundation of Apple.
The next time you feel discouraged about having to start at the bottom, take comfort in the fact that you’re not selling gum or hot-wiring phones. One thing you can learn from these entrepreneurs is to never let innovation pass you by. If you want to know what we mean by innovation, download this informative ZipZap brochure.