You do not always have to come from a privileged background to make it big. That is the beauty of capitalism. Some of the greatest men and women in the history of business started with so very little. These captains of industry had vision, passion and a determination to be successful. In many cases, they overcame a number of challenges until they found the road to success. Let's take a look at six successful entrepreneurs who built empires with a meager amount of money. (Many people want to start a business, but not everyone has what it takes to succeed. Check out Are You An Entrepreneur?)
TUTORIAL: Starting A Small Business Tutorial

Henry Ford
Henry Ford did not let his lack of financial resources stand in the way of his lifelong dream. He was a man with great ideas, but had very little financial backing of his own. So, he started Ford Motor Company with just $28,000 - and that was not even Ford's savings. It was money that he had borrowed from a variety of different investors. Ford made good use of the funds. He applied his talents to Ford Motor Company and became the first person to ever mass produce automobiles. Today, Ford Motor Company is a $56 billion dollar company with over $128 billion dollars in annual revenue.

John Paul DeJoria
John Paul DeJoria rose from the most humble of beginnings to become one of the richest men in the world. He worked as a newspaper courier at the very young age of nine, and took jobs as a janitor and a tow truck driver just to make ends meet. DeJoria's made the smart decision to go into business Paul Mitchell while he was working for a hair care company. The pair took out a meager $700 loan, and turned it into a hair care conglomerate with nearly $1 billion dollars in annual sales. DeJoria now also owns Patron Tequila, which sells more than 2 million cases a year. He has risen from the depths of homelessness to amass a net worth of $4 billion dollars.

Steve Jobs
The inventor of the iPhone, iPod and iPad started the largest technology company in the world in his parents' garage. Steve Jobs started Apple Computers in 1976 with his partner, Steve Wolzniak. The two men did not have a bunch of venture capital like startups do today. Jobs did, however, have a vision and innovative ideas that helped to thrust Apple into the forefront of the computer industry. Jobs has been the brains behind Apple for years and the company suffered during his departure in the late '90s. The return of Jobs has led to the resurgence of Apple, and today the company has a market cap of $320 billion dollars.

Sam Walton
Walmart may be a household name today, but it was not when Sam Walton opened his first store back in 1962. Walton got his first start in retail opening up his first general variety store in 1945, which he opened with just $25,000. Only $5,000 of the money was Walton's; he borrowed $20,000 from his father in law. This turned out to be a great investment for his father in law, as Walton was an instant success at retailing. His knack for retail sales and low cost strategy made his stores a hit with consumers everywhere. Walmart developed into one of the most popular retailers in the United States under Walton's helm, and Walton even held the title of the richest man in the United States at one point in time.

Kevin Plank
The CEO of Under Armour was flat broke when the orders started rolling in for his moisture-holding athletic shirts. Plank started his entrepreneurial endeavor with just $20,000 in cash and another $40,000 in credit card debt. to launch his fitness apparel company. Plank was so broke that he was scoring meals at his mom's house to eat. With hard work and determination, he managed to carve out a niche of the athletic apparel market for Under Armour. Kevin Plank now has a net worth just shy of $500 million dollars.

TUTORIAL: Intro To Insurance

Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard
Hewlett-Packard was the startup of all startups. The two cofounders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started the industrial giant with a total of $538 in assets. The $538 total investment included cash and a used drill press. The two partners were unaware that the development of an audio oscillator in a tiny garage would be the beginning of a multi billion dollar personal computing company. Hewlett Packard has a market cap of $88 billion dollars and generated $126 billion dollars in sales last year alone. That's quite a remarkable return on investment! (These 10 entrepreneurs' names will live on long into the future - perhaps even after their enterprises are gone. See The 10 Greatest Entrepreneurs.)

The Bottom Line
The success stories of these entrepreneurs serves as an inspiration to anyone who dares to endeavor into fortune-building, with a small amount of startup capital.

Related Articles
  1. Active Trading Fundamentals

    The Biggest Private Equity Firms in San Francisco

    Learn about some of the larger private equity firms with a presence in San Francisco, including KKR, the Blackstone Group and Warburg Pincus.
  2. Active Trading Fundamentals

    The Companies of Peter Theil's Founders Fund

    Learn about the major public companies that Peter Thiel has invested in and companies that are on the verge of going public at multibillion-dollar valuations.
  3. Active Trading Fundamentals

    The Biggest Private Equity Firms in Los Angeles

    Learn why Los Angeles is a thriving market for private equity, and identify the five largest private equity firms operating in the city.
  4. Entrepreneurship

    What Does Bootstrap Mean?

    The term bootstrap refers to launching and building a business with little capital and no funding from outside sources.
  5. Credit & Loans

    Can Corporate Credit Cards Affect Your Credit?

    Corporate cards have a hidden downside. If the company fails to pay its bills, you could be liable for the amount and end up with a damaged credit rating.
  6. Professionals

    Small RIAs: How to Level the Playing Field

    In order to compete with larger firms, small RIAs have to get a little creative. Here are a few ways to kickstart growth.
  7. Markets

    Trader Joe's Stock Doesn’t Exist. Here’s Why

    Learn about Trader Joe's and how it operates. Understand why Trader Joe's has chosen not to be a public company and why it should remain that way.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: PowerShares Global Listed Private Eq

    Learn more about the PowerShares Global Listed Private Equity Portfolio, a private equity-based exchange-traded fund, or ETF.
  9. Entrepreneurship

    Top 5 Startups That Emerged in Denver

    Learn why Denver is one of the hottest markets in America for startups, and identify five of the top startups that are emerging from the Denver market.
  10. Entrepreneurship

    How Does ClassPass Work and Make Money?

    Find out how ClassPass makes money, how the company aims to help both businesses and consumers, and why it has been so successful.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Venture Capitalist

    An investor who either provides capital to startup ventures or ...
  2. Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)

    A UK program that helps smaller, riskier companies to raise capital ...
  3. Per Transaction Fees

    An expense a business must pay each time it processes a customer’s ...
  4. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with administering a business on a day to ...
  5. Freelancer

    A freelancer is an individual who earns money on a per-job or ...
  6. Warren Buffett

    Known as "the Oracle of Omaha", Buffett is Chairman of Berkshire ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What does residual value represent in a private equity investment?

    It is common to see a private equity investment's net asset value, or NAV, referred to as its residual value, since it represents ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can I buy insurance to reduce unlimited liability in a partnership?

    Partnership insurance is actually quite common. Most of the time, partners buy insurance to safeguard against the possibility ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How much, if any, influence do non-controlling interest shareholders have?

    Non-controlling interest shareholders do not typically have much influence. The level of influence can vary, however, depending ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the benefits of financial sampling?

    Financial sampling allows auditors to approximate the rate of error within financial statements. For accounting purposes, ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the benefits of prorating expenses?

    When a person prorates expenses between personal and business expenses, he is able to capture the maximum amount of tax benefits ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!