Becoming an entrepreneur is no easy task. Now imagine trying to start your own business with a past full of lack of self-esteem, abuse or poverty. These entrepreneurs not only overcame their struggles, but they also managed to make their businesses successful in the face of adversity.
Rhonda Sciortino overcame poverty, filth, hunger, abuse and loneliness. She ultimately turned her life in a positive direction and founded two successful companies. One company was the Human Services Insurance, the only retail insurance brokerage in the United States. The sole purpose of the company is to protect people and organizations that care for abused children. Its purpose was to create exclusive insurance programs. According to Sciortino, her company helped negotiate millions of dollars of premium savings for children's homes throughout the U.S.
In 1995, Sciortino founded her second company, Child Welfare Insurance Services, a wholesale insurance operation designed to empower insurance brokers throughout the U.S. to become advocates for the child welfare organizations in their communities. She eventually sold both companies. Sciortino is the author of "Succeed Because of What You've Been Through" and is a real estate investor, speaker and trainer.
"I have an amazing life now," she says. "If I told you how really good it is, you might think I was lying, bragging or delusional. I went from a time of being homeless to building a multi-million dollar balance sheet. I live in a house overlooking the ocean with celebrities and business owners as neighbors. Most importantly, I am able to help people in ways I never could have imagined. Life is awesome. Now I'm on a mission to help others succeed."
Jennifer Scully, owner of Discount Designer Furnishings also had her fair share of ups and downs in her life. She went from being a successful singer who sang a duet with Enrique Iglesias to a wealthy stay-at-home mom. Then she was broke and homeless.
Scully sang professionally for 11 years and flipped houses during her spare time, making large profits. After her daughter was born, Scully decided to become a stay-at-home mom, and life was grand. She lived in an eight-bedroom dream home on the North Shore of Long Island and her husband was a successful trader, well known on Wall Street. After divorcing her husband in 2009 when her daughter was four years old, however, things started spiraling downward.
"Our investment in our home was $2.7 million and two years later it was valued at $1.25 million. That's exactly what the sale price was. My husband lost his job and things were bleak," she says. Scully states they practically lost the house in a short sale, along with most of their belongings. She changed her entire way of life, bought nothing except gas and food, had no health insurance, and had no money for school supplies.
Although she began working at lightning speed to produce enough income to support herself and her daughter, Scully couldn't keep up. She and her daughter gave up everything they had and moved in with Scully's mother in order to save money.
Eventually things started turning around. After losing her rental home and moving in with her mother, she was able to focus mainly on growing her designer business. Her business took a positive turn in 2011 and she began selling enough furniture to enable her to open a separate web-based furniture business, selling to people across the U.S. and Canada. She's made over $300,000 in sales this year so far.
Julie Austin, the inventor of Swiggies wrist water bottles, says she started when she literally had $5 in her pocket. She even had to convince the manager of the building she was moving into to let her pay the rent at the end of the month, because she didn't even have enough to move in. One day, after passing out from dehydration after running, she came up with the idea to create a wrist water bottle. Her first prototype was made out of clay and she worked two or three jobs to start her business. She did this for years until finally she got to the point where she started feeling successful.
Austin's product is now in over 20 countries around the world and has sold over a quarter of a million units. In 2012, Swiggies won the Toy Man Award of Excellence for best innovation and quality.
The Bottom Line
These women overcame adversity and went on to become successful entrepreneurs. Becoming a successful entrepreneur can be difficult, but these women have proven that even obstacles like abuse and poverty can't keep business-savvy people from achieving success.