As we’ve repeated over and over again, starting in the business world isn’t a path of roses. There are many ups and downs and only the best manage to stay on the market and fulfill their dreams. How can the situation get any harder and more complicated? Without any family support or even struggling just to have something to eat. These circumstances may be factors which blight the chance to thrive one’s idea or the desire to become a successful entrepreneur and gain success on the market.

Many people in such situations give up quickly and admit to being defeated by an unsupportive environment. Some prominent figures in history were born in extreme poverty and managed to gain success in business. People like them are an inspiration for all who think that, without a good start and support from the beginning, it is impossible to fulfill their dreams. Check out the list of the business’ geniuses who had extremely hard beginnings, but they’ve overcome all the obstacles on their way to success.

Howard Schultz – Owner of the Starbuck’s Empire


Howard was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn in the New York City. As his family was poor, he saw an escape from this hard financial situation in sport. He was passionately playing baseball, football, and basketball. His hard work and training paid off – in high school, Schultz was awarded an athletic scholarship to Northern Michigan University and, due to this achievement, he became the first person in his family to go to college.

After graduation, he worked as a salesman in Xerox Corporation and, soon after that, he became a general sales manager for Swedish drip coffee maker manufacturer, Hammarplast where he was responsible for their U.S. operations. One of his clients was Starbucks Coffee Company in Seattle, where he saw an enormous potential in this brand and tried to convince its owners to sell coffee beverages there, but they didn’t agree. Schultz opened his café – Il Giornale – which expanded across the U.S. Soon after that Starbucks Coffee Company owners decided to sell it to Schultz. His vision of the café as an everyday meeting hub turned out to be a huge success and, now, his company is selling coffee beverages all around the globe.

Ursula Burns – Successful Girl Who Became XEROX CEO


Both of her parents were Panamanian immigrants, but she was raised by a single mother in a housing project; growing up in the Lower East Side, which was not always a cool place to raise a child. Her mother ran a daycare center out of her home and ironed shirts so she could afford to send Ursula to Catholic School. Her mother’s struggles paid off and Ursula further went to New York University and, after graduation, she became an intern at XEROX.

Throughout her twenties, she was working there for different departments and in various roles in a product development and planning. While working for Xerox, Ursula was successfully climbing the ladder, and finally, in 1999, she became the vice president of global manufacturing. Eight years later, she assumed the role of president, and subsequently, in 2009, she was named the CEO of the company. It isn’t hard to admit that Burns’ beginnings were tough, but her and her mother’s stamina in chasing dreams lead a poor girl from an impoverished family to the role of one of the most powerful women in the world.

Ingvar Kamprad – Swedish Tycoon of Furniture Business


Before Kamprad started to run the IKEA business, he was living with his family in a small Swedish village and growing on a farm. As a boy, he was passionate about doing business and he was quite successful at this. This was true, even in his early years, when he was buying matches in bulk to sell on to his neighbors. Later his business expanded to fish, Christmas decorations, and pens. There’s a need to admit that Ingmar was more resourceful than his friends at the same age. He was seventeen and newly graduated from school when his father – as a reward for succeeding in his studies – gave him a cash reward.

Kamprad didn’t decide to invest in any other way than the one which could multiply this amount significantly. Finally, in 1943, he founded IKEA – the furniture business – which first existed in Kampard’s uncle’s kitchen. He remained faithful to the place of his birth, which is why the acronym IKEA stands for the place he was raised in (I – Ingvar, K – Kamprad, E – Elmatryd, the place where Kamprad’s parents had a farm, and A – Agunnaryd, the village nearby.)

Samuel Walton – Man Who Founded Wal-Mart


Samuel Walton lived with his parents on a farm, however, it was far from idyllic. Farming did not provide enough money to raise a family, which is why Walton’s family moved from one place to another, looking for the best location to live. Samuel was helping the family to make ends meet from his early years. For some time, he was tending to a family cow, bottling the unnecessary surplus and driving it to customers, who were eagerly buying it from a young boy. In fact, it wasn’t the only activity he took on in order to make his family life better. He was also delivering newspapers and, during his college years, waiting tables in exchange for meals.

After graduating from the University of Missouri – with the B.A. in economics – he opened the first variety store. He succeeded in this business, and shortly expanded it into the biggest market chain in the U.S. Walton died in 1992, leaving the company to his wife and children.

Do Won Chang – Forever 21

Alongside his wife, he moved from Korea to the U.S. in 1981. The beginnings were extremely hard for the young married couple with huge visions for the future. For some time, Do Won was even forced to work three jobs at the same time to support them. He was a janitor, gas station attendant and a coffee shop worker, all in one person. After some time with this drudgery, they were able to fulfill their dream and open their first clothing store.

That one store grew into the chain of clothes shop across the country. Now, it is a multinational, 480 store empire that generates around 3 billion dollars in sales a year. Do Wang Chan says that the history of him and his wife can be hope for other people, who have also come to the United States with almost nothing and, very often, it’s a huge struggle to make end meets. Even after gaining such success he remained a modest man, who talks about himself as a simple Korean immigrant with a dream.

Roman Abramovich – Enterprising Man from The Eastern Europe


He was orphaned at the age of just four and was raised by his grandmother and uncle in Russia. They lived plainly, but Roman, since his very early adulthood, had an entrepreneurial interest. He and his wife got a very expensive product for their wedding and, until then, Abramovich didn’t know what it meant to have so much. Because of these new circumstances, he decided to pursue his entrepreneurial interest, which at first included selling plastic ducks out of an apartment in Moscow.

After a few years, a massive occasion emerged on the horizon and, in 1995, Abramovich managed a takeover. Being ruthless during his whole life paid off for the billionaire ­– now he’s the owner of the largest private yacht in the world, as well as a Boeing 767, several homes in New York, London, and France. All the football lovers know that he is also the owner of Chelsea Football Club.

Ralph Lauren – Founder of Well-Known Polo


Ralph Lauren was born and raised in The Bronx in New York City. He was also the son of Jewish immigrants and the youngest of four siblings. Like Schultz, Lauren also loved sport – he wanted to be such a good player like Joe DiMaggio, but his passion for matching his baseball idol on a pitch, turned into the desire to become a movie star. Eventually, Lauren served in the U.S. Army, but not for a long time. After this episode, he started to work for the Brooks Brothers as a sales assistant, before becoming a salesman for a tie company.

As a clerk, Lauren asked whether men were ready for wider and brighter designs in ties. His curiosity and creativity led him to success. He became the owner of one of the biggest and the most recognized clothing brands in the world. Soon after releasing his menswear, he started to launch clothes for women and even a range of perfumes. Not everyone knows that Polo was the brand that, in 1974, designed costumes for the Great Gatsby cast.

Leonardo Del Vecchio – Eyewear Pundit

Del Vecchio was born and raised in an impoverished Milan family. He has never met his father, as he died five months before his birth. His single mother couldn’t manage to support the boy financially, so she gave him to an orphanage. When he became a young man, he started to work as an apprentice to a tool and die maker in Milan, he was aware of his metal working skills and decided to take advantage of it to make spectacle parts. Eventually, he moved to Agordo, in a province of Bellino, which is home to most of the Italian eyewear industry.

He was still very young when he opened his eyeglass frame shop, which soon expanded to the world’s largest maker of sunglasses and prescription eyewear. Now, his company makes brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley, with 6,000 retail shops.

Jan Koum – Knew What’s Up With the Market


Jan Koum is a Ukrainian expat living in the United States. He moved there with his mother at the age of 16. Before moving to California, he lived in Foster, outside Kiev. His father intended to join the family but finally remained in Ukraine. Koum’s mother worked as a babysitter, while he worked as a cleaner in a grocery store. As soon as Jan turned eighteen, he became interested in programming and, in 1997, he was hired by Yahoo.

Yahoo was his workplace for nearly ten years when he and his friend, Brian Acton, decided to leave and took a year off, traveling around South America. After the holidays they’ve applied to Facebook, but both failed to work there. 2009 was a landmark year because, in cooperation with Acton, he launched the WhatsApp application. Even though the idea was sold to Facebook, Koum is still a prospering businessman with Facebook stock worth more than 4.4 billion dollars.

Oprah Winfrey – The Youngest TV Correspondent


She was birthed by a teenage mom and raised by her grandmother. Their financial situation was tragic and Oprah was wearing dresses out of potato sacks. In her childhood, she was molested by members of her family, and that forced her to run away from home at the age at just thirteen and, a year later, she gave birth to a boy who died after labor. After all of these sad occurrences, she decided to go back to her mother and it was then she was sent to her father, which turned her life around.

All the bad circumstances didn’t stop her from winning a scholarship to Tennessee State University and becoming the first African-American TV correspondent in the state at the age of nineteen. Oprah Winfrey is one of the most recognizable and influential women in the world.

There’s no doubt that it is much easier to have people who are ready to help – both mentally and financially – when it comes to starting a business. Fundraising and looking for investors can be exhausting. But, as you can see, some of the biggest fish in the business pond managed to fulfill their dreams against all the odds. Being hard-working and having big stamina resources can lead to huge success against any obstacle.

Image Credits: Photobra Adam Bielawski, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0, By U.S. Government Printing Office [Public domain], Wikimedia Commons Public domain, By Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications of Sweden/Sandra Baqirjazid, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0, , By Marina Lystseva, Wikimedia Commons GFDL 1.2, By Arnaldo Anaya-Lucca, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0, By Sequoia Capital, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 , By, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0


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