4 Successful entrepreneurs who started with nothing

By Nazlin Amirudin

Here are a few entrepreneurs who made it big in their careers; at various ages and at various difficulties. There is always a lesson to be learnt from the success of others. What did they do right? What can I do to be as successful, if not more? Here is a brief overview of four successful entrepreneurs and what we can learn from their entrepreneur journey.

Colonel Harland Sanders

For the first part of Colonel Sanders’ career, he had various odd jobs which included working in the army, in local farms and for railroads. Despite having a franchise that has grown to be one of the many favourites of the masses, Colonel Sanders did not have any formal restaurant training or experience before starting Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Only after he had retired and had recurring thoughts of committing suicide did he thought of the idea of cooking fried chicken and selling it in his neighbourhood. 

Lesson learnt: There is no age limit in success nor is there one for starting a business. If you have the passion, drive and determination, everything else will come through. Read more on Colonel Sanders history. 

Steve Madden

Steve Madden always had been in the shoe industry, having worked at a shoe store as well as a footwear company. For nearly 20 years, this was what he did before he officially found Steve Madden Ltd. in 1990. At L. J. Simone, a wholesaler of women’s boots, he had held various positions and learned many things about the business.

Lesson learnt: If you are passionate about creating something, immerse yourself in the industry first. This can help you in gaining insight into the business and potentially give you the opportunity to analyse the industry thoroughly before starting your own business line. 

Walt Disney


Image credit: wicid.tv

Walt Disney had the opportunity to work in art studios and ad agencies before he started his first company with cartoonist Ubbe Iwerks, Twerks-Disney Commercial Artists. The company didn’t do very well. He then went on to find work at the Kansas City Film Ad Company which was where he was introduced to cartoon commercials based on paper cut-outs. He was amazed by world of film and cartoon animation that he read plenty of books about it and decided to pick up a camera and make cartoons of his own. They say the rest then, is history.

Lesson learnt: Never be afraid to experiment and try new things. Businesses can fail, but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Try new things, get exposed to something different and who knows you might be enthralled by it just like how Walt Disney was. 

Coco Chanel

s2-2Image credit: 12yamase.wordpress.com

Known to be one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century, Coco Chanel was orphaned at a young age and it was at the orphanage that she had learned to sew from nuns. Her unfortunate beginning had catapulted her into the direction of success and ultimately led to the birth of the famous “Little Black Dress” and the Chanel Suit.

Lesson learnt: There are always brighter days ahead. Never take anything for granted and any skill you might learn is always good skill.