Achieving success is most often a considerable challenge that small businesses face. Many even call it quits early, with up to 20 percent of new companies failing in their first two years. This is why when entrepreneurs hit some level of achievement, it can indeed be inspirational. These entrepreneur success stories provide the motivation you need to scale your business.
Peeking into how these individuals developed their businesses to succeed can give you the insight and direction to find your path towards fulfillment. And instead of watching in amazement from the sidelines, you can work harder to be part of and create your own entrepreneur success stories. Here are some entrepreneurs who started humbly and rose through the grains to attain outstanding achievements and successes:
1. Eric Yuan
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Chinese-American businessman and engineer Eric Yuan is the CEO and founder of Zoom Video Communications, better known as Zoom. The video-teleconferencing software is now one of the most used communication platforms globally, with more than three hundred million participants daily. Considering that Yuan first developed the software as a means to “visit” his girlfriend to ease the 10-hour train ride distance of their relationship, it certainly has gone a long way. Yuan, who owns twenty-two percent of the company, has a net worth of $6.4 Billion and managed to build a $35 Billion video conferencing empire in just nine years.
How Yuan grew his business:
Before being among only a handful of Chinese Americans who now lead a major Silicon Valley company, Yuan was a worker. He had an undergraduate degree in applied mathematics and a master’s degree in engineering. He spent four years working in Japan before moving to California to work for an internet startup in Silicon Valley.
Prior to founding Zoom, he was a vice president at telecommunications company Cisco Systems. He also worked for WebEx, which Cisco acquired. Yuan had the idea of incorporating video into telephone-based conferencing systems and making it more user-friendly. He pitched the idea to CIsco in 2011, but his idea was shot down.
It was, however, during the mandated lock-downs that Zoom’s practicability became hugely popular. Now, more than 750,000 companies utilize the video-conferencing platform. It provided a user-friendly and fun means of video-conferencing in real-time made communication more realistic. This means of working and socializing online grew Zoom’s share price exponentially.
Prior to its mainstream acceptance, Yuan encountered plenty of challenges on his path to founding Zoom. Even his entry into the United States became an eight-time application process to gain visa approval. After years of working at Silicon Valley, his pitch to Cisco for a smartphone-friendly video conferencing system wasn’t taken seriously. When he left Cisco to create Zoom, he found it hard to convince investors to back his new venture.
People thought that the market was already crowded and that Zoom had no space to thrive in. To raise capital and launch the company, Yuan had to borrow money from friends and family. His resilience and determination led to a success that brought forth a more dependable product and was fun to use. And despite its humble early beginnings, Zoom had become one of the most successful IPOs in 2019, with its share price rising seventy-two percent on its first day of trading.
Of the many entrepreneur success stories, Eric Yuan’s is genuinely aspirational. He’s a hardworking and hands-on CEO who works busy 18-hour working days. When he arrived in the US, he spoke very little English and chose to put all his focus on work. “For the first several years, I was just writing code, and I was extremely busy,” Yuan said.
Even now, Yuan rarely takes any work trips, opting to take Zoom calls to spend more time with his family. When his wife doubted his decision to leave Cisco and create Zoom, Yuan held firm. He told her, “I know it’s a long journey and very hard, but if I don’t try it, I’ll regret it.” So work hard, stay the course and find success along the way.
2. Jack Ma
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In 2014, Alibaba founder and business magnate Jack Ma became the richest man in China, reaching a net worth of over $25 Billion. By 2021, Ma increased his net worth to $42.3 Billion to become the 32nd richest person in the world. Of the entrepreneur success stories featured here, Ma’s is truly a rags-to-riches tale.
Growing up poor in communist China and having faced incredible challenges along the way, it’s inspiring to think how he managed to succeed. He wasn’t a genius-level individual with vast technical knowledge, nor did he even have a straightforward business plan. Yet, by thinking big, Jack Ma managed to build one of the largest e-commerce empires in the world.
How Ma grew his business:
Despite not having money or any connections, Ma knew that he could only get ahead through education. After graduating college in 1988, he sent as many job applications as possible to find work. He started as an English teacher and eventually put up a translation business.
In 1995, he traveled to the US to assist a Chinese firm and was captivated by the internet. His first online search was for “beer,” and he found that there were no Chinese beer options in the results. This was when he realized that an internet company for China would be his lifelong mission. After four years and two failed attempts, he secured funding from seventeen of his friends to start a little online marketplace he dubbed “Alibaba.”
Back then, the site showcased export products that customers in China could purchase directly through the platform. By 1999, Ma’s e-commerce startup had raised more than $25 Million from outside investment.
In 2005, tech giant Yahoo invested $1 Billion into Alibaba for a forty percent stake in the company. Aside from offering something ahead of everyone in such a huge market potential region such as China at the time, Ma’s drive was his personality and passion. He kept his team and employees happy by maintaining a sense of fun while working.
His motivational style for his team included having them do headstands during breaks to keep their energy going. He would always tell his employees, “We will make it because we are young, and we never, never give up.”. This encouraged close-knit relationships within his team, and they all worked hard to achieve success.
Jack Ma’s entrepreneurial success story is one of achieving victory through countless failures. Aside from his humble poor beginnings, he also failed his college entrance exam twice. Nevertheless, he believed that attaining a degree would be his key to success, and he strived hard to achieve that goal.
After graduating, he was rejected from more than a dozen job applications, including an application into the global fast-food chain, KFC. This didn’t dampen his spirits, though, and he would use his English-speaking skills to good use as a translator and later on as an English teacher.
Even when he geared towards putting up his internet company, his first two ventures ultimately failed before he founded Alibaba. When he was asked about his failures and rejections, Ma simply said, “Well, I think we have to get used to it. We’re not that good.” Accepting setbacks and overcoming rejection and failure allowed Ma to learn and grow, to work harder to achieve his goals.
Jack Ma is known for his cheerful demeanor, who never allowed himself to feel disadvantaged despite his countless challenges to achieve success. In the face of adversities and rejections, Ma is always one to see the opportunities by being positive. “We keep fighting.
We keep changing ourselves. We don’t complain” is one mantra that Jack Ma is known to espouse. As a determined entrepreneur, Jack Ma always encouraged people to “Think Big.” He considers thinking big and having ambitious goals to be more important than technical knowledge to achieve entrepreneurial success.
Entrepreneurial success isn’t a result of academic prowess or book knowledge but is instead a product of learning that becomes intuition and gut feeling. As one of the most inspirational entrepreneurial success stories, Ma is a testament to accumulated experience being the path to achieving success.
3. Mark Cuban
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Entrepreneur Mark Cuban is most known as a decisive investor on the reality-TV show “Shark Tank,” whose insight for business is truly inspirational. Like most entrepreneur success stories, Cuban’s started when he was young and needed to work to buy a pair of basketball shoes. Through this desire, Cuban established a path to entrepreneurship that would lead him to success.
He would later sell his businesses to propel himself even further and is now the owner of the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA as well as a film distribution company. In addition, Cuban is a philanthropist and author with a net worth of $4.5 Billion while showcasing his business acumen for potential budding entrepreneurs on Shark Tank.
How Cuban grew his business:
Mark Cuban found his success in business through a lifetime of entrepreneurship and taking risks. When he was twelve, his father told him he had to work and earn money to buy a new pair of basketball shoes he wanted. So, Mark went door to door in his community selling garbage bags.
After graduating from the Indiana University of Bloomington, Cuban started working for a bank in Pittsburgh before moving to Dallas in 1982. There, he found work selling software while also putting up his own software consulting business, Micro Solutions. Cuban had a keen understanding of software and computers, which accelerated the traction of his business.
In 1990, Cuban sold Micro Solutions for $6 Million. This gave him the opportunity to venture into other businesses and invest in several startups. In 1995, Cuban and his business partner Todd Wagner established an internet radio company named Audio Net.
The company, renamed Broadcast.com, pioneered audio streaming and online video and would be among Cuban’s greatest successes. Broadcast would later be sold to Yahoo for $5.7 Billion in 1999. By 2000, Mark purchased the NBA team Dallas Mavericks and turned the mediocre franchise into a commercial and athletic success.
Throughout Cuban’s life, he encountered challenges that he considers as tremendous learning opportunities. For example, he got fired from several jobs early in his career and was even ragged on by a software company CEO due to his hand-me-down shirt appearance.
Cuban commented on this, saying, “I learned it’s not how you look, it’s what you can do. You just have to go out there and do the work.” He’s also been able to rebound from significant setbacks, such as being accused and later on getting cleared of insider trading. Although, to Cuban, these setbacks are all learning experiences, “I learned so much about what not to do, how not to manage, how important certain things are.”
Cuban’s lifelong path of entrepreneurship highlights the truth that there are no shortcuts in achieving success. He stayed focused on the efforts that only he could control. Cuban said, “Work like there is someone working twenty-four hours a day to take it all away from you.” This drive to always be better and to always hustle is something Cuban espouses.
Complacency has always been the enemy of the entrepreneur success stories we’ve encountered. Cuban encourages constant learning to ris