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Billionaire Businesses Built from Nothing

Billionaire Businesses Built from Nothing

WeΓÇÖre living in a capitalist world. You might be a budding entrepreneur at heart but maybe you donΓÇÖt have the dollar it takes to set up the business that will make you rich.

Can a successful enterprise be built without a crippling personal investment? Yes it can.

Read on to discover the billionaire businesses built from next to nothing…

1. Keep Your Idea Alive

J K Rowling | Harry Potter | Literary Franchise | £7 billion

At the time of conceiving of and writing ‘Harry Potter’, J K Rowling had next to no money. She began the series based on an idea that came to her on a long train journey but still, years later, was living in Edinburgh, a single parent with no job who was so depressed she had contemplated suicide.

But despite it all, Rowling kept her idea alive. She wrote in cafés all over Edinburgh with a sleeping child by her side. Three chapters printed on a manual typewriter caught the adoration of a proof reader and a small agency agreed to help her find a publisher. It took twelve months, twelve rejections and the angry demands of the Bloomsbury CEO’s young daughter for ‘Harry Potter’ to be published.

Today, the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise is estimated to be worth over £7 billion and Rowling personally worth several hundred million.

2. Trust Your Instincts

Howard Schulz | Starbucks | Global Coffee Chain | $11.7 billion

In the 1980s, working for a tiny coffee bean shop in Seattle called Starbucks, Howard Schulz flew to Milan on a buying mission for the company. While there, he was struck by the sheer volume of espresso outlets and little coffee shops where people would meet and socialise ΓÇô a long held backbone of Italian society. Inspired, Schulz returned to his bosses and insisted they bring Milan to America.

The company trialled the idea and it was successful, but it wasnΓÇÖt what the owners wanted to get into. Convinced he was right, Schulz took his wages and set up a coffee shop of his own that was Milanese in style. It took off in a big way and grew quickly until 1985 when his old bosses sold Starbucks to their ex-employee to pursue another venture.

Schulz took the name and kept his Milanese dream alive. In 2011, nearly 20,000 Starbucks outlets around the world brought in $11.7 billion in revenue.

3. Keep Doing What You Love

Oprah Winfrey | Harpo Productions | Multimedia Production Studio | $2.7 billion

Oprah Winfrey was born in poverty to an unwed teenage maid in Mississippi. She wore potato sacks, was beaten for not completing chores and was mocked at school. When she began to misbehave she was sent to live with her father in Tennessee, who took no nonsense and insisted on her education.

Under her fatherΓÇÖs influence, Winfrey flourished to become Most Popular Girl, honour student and hardworking employee of her small local radio station. She was popular at the station ΓÇô she always loved to talk ΓÇô and went on to news reading for radio, news reading for TV and, when viewings overtook the competition, she was asked to host a talk show.

Today Oprah Winfrey and her talking are worth approximately $2.7 billion. Last year alone she earned a $290 million income.

4. Understand Your Industry

George Soros | Soros Fund Management | Funds & Investments | $20 billion

In Nazi-occupied Hungary, George Soros grew up posing as a non-Jewish child and even survived the Battle of Budapest. In 1947, he immigrated to London to get an education and lived in poverty as a student, moonlighting as a porter and waiter.

Soros made a little money selling things on the side but ultimately he understood finance, he wanted to work in finance and so he wrote a letter to every single merchant bank MD in London begging for work. Singer & Friedlander said ΓÇÿyesΓÇÖ and SorosΓÇÖ natural talent soon saw him moving to New York and catapulting through the rankings in his career.

Soros kept establishing new businesses with his wages and know-how, trying to earn just enough to retire as a financial philosopher and writer. Today he is a philosopher, as well as an investor, political activist and philanthropist, and is personally worth over $20 billion.

5. Follow Your Heart

Guy Laliberté | Cirque du Soleil | Global Stage Performance | $2.6 billion

As a child in Quebec, Guy Laliberté went to the circus and fell instantly in love with show performance. In school, he gravitated towards amateur dramatics and was determined to one day be a street performer, wowing a crowd with all the skills he saw at the circus.

That’s exactly what he did. He performed in the streets, played the harmonica and the accordion, and when he encountered a hitchhiking band of travelling performers, he joined them. In 1984, with an idea for the ultimate show-stopping international circus in his head, Laliberté applied for a government fund and began a one-year show with his friends.

In 2010, the multi-award-winning ‘Cirque du Soleil’ brought in $850 million in revenue and today Laliberté himself is worth approximately $2.6 billion.

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