Everybody knows I love that book The Millionaire Next Door. It’s a classic and everyone needs to read it. But there are some parts of the book (it was written in the 90s) that sound…well, outdated. A solid and steady income in combination with reserved lifestyle choices is one of the cores of building your millions.
But some people just don’t follow that day job nonsense. The entrepreneurial spirited daydreamers and independent doers follow their instinct instead. Nobody said working for yourself is easy, but for these 39 entrepreneurs, it worked out fantastic.
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1. Cindy Crawford
Cindy Crawford is a well-known American model who appeared in different magazine covers during the 1980s and 1990s. After her lackluster trek into TV and movies, she officially “retired” from modeling in 2000 to create her own cosmetic line called “Meaningful Beauty.”
Crawford also owns the “Cindy Crawford Home Collection,” which is a new line of furniture was released in 2005. After her successful ventures making her net worth balloon to over $100 million, Crawford returned to modeling in 2011 and published her own book in 2015.
Her husband, Rande Gerber, was also a former model turn entrepreneur of Casa Amigos – a successful tequila company jointly formed with superstar actor George Clooney.
2. Liu Qiangdong
Liu Qiangdong is the founder and CEO of JD.com, the biggest online shopping platform in China. Before this success, Qiangdong worked at a company that produces natural products as a Director of Computers. After two years, he left his job in order to start his then offline business called Jingdong, which sold computer parts and accessories. By going online, JD.com is now one of the biggest Chinese companies today.
3. Harland Sanders
Harland David Sanders was the creator of the original formula of Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC. In 1924, he served a salesman for the Michelin Tire Company before being invited to run a service station at Corbin.
Eventually, Sanders left his job to start his own line of businesses. Sanders faced a lot of challenges in his different business ventures until 1952, when he decided to franchise his secret recipe after selling his secret seasoning door to door. KFC became the first-ever fast-food chain to expand internationally.
4. George Foreman
George Foreman is a former professional boxer with a career of almost a decade in the fighting ring. He is a two-time heavyweight champion and an Olympic gold medalist during his professional boxing days. But his real success came when Salton, Inc. approached him to represent their fat-reducing grill.
Foreman receives profit every time Salton is able to sell a grill. It was reported that Foreman already made $200 million from his endorsement of the grill line.
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5. Jeff Bezos
You would have to be living under a rock if you don’t know Jeff or the impact of Amazon.com on commerce. Jeff Preston Bezos is a known American entrepreneur and investor. He founded the online retail store, Amazon, and serve as the CEO, Chairman, and President of the company. Before starting Amazon in a garage, Bezos worked in different financial companies such as Fitel, Bankers Trust, and D.E. Shaw & Co with his ex-wife MacKenzie.
In 1994, Bezos left his job and started an online bookstore, which would later become the Amazon that we know today. As of now, his net worth is about $165.4 million. Bezos is known as one of the richest (if not the richest) techpreneur in the world.
6. Ken Jeong
Ken Jeong is a comedian and an actor known for his roles in movies such as “Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Goosebumps,” and for his voice-overs at “Despicable Me.” He was also the lead in ABC’s “Dr. Ken” which lasted for 44 episodes. But did you know that he is actually a licensed physician?
Jeong finished his residency at Ochsner Medical Center and is licensed in California. However, he gave up being a physician in order to pursue a career in acting – and rocked it out!
7. Jerry Springer
Jerry Springer is known for hosting “The Jerry Springer Show” which aired from 1991 to 2018. It was a show in its own league in the 90s – filled with human trash and a lot of censorship. But before becoming popular as an adult TV show host, Springer was known for serving as the Mayor of Cincinnati from 1977 to 1978.
I guess being Jerry Springer was a lot more fun and lucrative than Jerry Springer the Politician. After “The Jerry Springer Show” concluded last year, Springer will start a new show this fall called “Judge Jerry.”
8. Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett is considered by a lot of people as one of the most successful investors in the world. At the age of 88, Buffett still serves as the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. His best advice is to work with someone you really admire, which he did when he applied at Graham-Newman Corp. to work with Benjamin Graham at Columbia.
After working at Graham-Newman Corp from 1954 to 1956 until Graham’s retirement. Buffett then went to create his own company called the Buffett Partnership, which ultimately acquired a former failing textile company called Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
9. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is one of America’s media powerhouse, known for hosting the “The Oprah Winfrey Show” which started in 1986 and ended in 2011. She runs everything from her own magazine to her own brand of soups sold in Safeway.
Before getting into TV hosting, Winfrey was a news anchor in a local media outlet in Nashville, covering the 6 o’clock news. But her success only started when she relocated to Chicago where she started covering a morning talk show as a talk show host. This success will later pave the way for the creation of The Oprah Winfrey show.
10. Shep and Ian Murray
For 2 brothers, it was an ordinary day in 1998 when Shep and Ian Murray both quit their office jobs in Manhattan. They also did quit within ten minutes of each other after growing sick of their corporate jobs.
Ian claims the duo “traded in [their] business suits for bathing suits” and “started making neckties so [they] didn’t have to wear them.”
After getting their cash advances on credit cards, they started Vineyard Vines, which is a clothing and accessory store that combines a vision of a laid back lifestyle. Vineyard Vines is now has a total of 70 stores, 19 outlets, and 97 retailers worldwide.
As per Racked.com, Vineyard Vines could be worth as much as $1 billion in 2016.
11. Walt Disney
In 1928, Walt Disney was an animator for Universal Pictures before he started focusing on his own company. He and his fellow animator Ub Iwerks created the character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit for Universal Pictures.
Disney wanted to negotiate a larger fee for their work, but that didn’t happen. Instead, he and Iwerks were threatened that the film producer would just start his own studio with all the animators working under Disney. This trick didn’t work, Disney and Iwerks left the company and started developing Mickey Mouse, which became a main powerhouse of The Walt Disney Company.
12. Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie was a very successful businessman and a pioneer of the American steel industry. But before his success, Carnegie lived a rough life when he was a kid. He would bring himself to sleep with an empty stomach and will work on factories at night.
Eventually, Carnegie was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as a superintendent. By investing his earnings to good investments, Carnegie started earning capital, which will then pave the way to the creation of the Carnegie Steel Company.
13. Kylie Jenner
Kylie Jenner is a well-known American media personality known for appearing with her other siblings in “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” for years. Although her daytime job of being a reality TV star is still on-going into season 15, in 2013, she and her sister Kendall also started appearing on endorsements for cosmetic products.
In 2015, Jenner launched her own skincare brand called Nip + Fab which was renamed to Kylie Cosmetics and became an overnight success due to her Instagram popularity.
As of 2019, she has an estimated net worth of $1 billion thanks to her entrepreneurship endeavors and savvy media connections.
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14. Stephanie Abrams Cartin & Courtney Spritzer
Stephanie Abrams Cartin and Courtney Spritzer both have corporate jobs when they started a side hustle, which is a social media agency.
For ten months, they will work in their corporate jobs at day and will spend their free time (at night and on weekends) to focus on their side hustle. Since their side hustle (called Socialfly in NYC) gives steady income, and honestly, they enjoy working on Socialfly then their corporate jobs, Cartin and Spritzer decided to quit their jobs and decided to make their side hustle their main business.
15. Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart is known for being the owner of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She is also known for her books and TV shows called “Martha” and “Martha Stewart Living.”
But before beginning a career in the television and in publishing, Stewart worked on different kinds of jobs such as being a stockbroker, decorator, and model. Stewart eventually found herself going back to her love of gourmet cooking, which led her to her success after her first foray into American audiences.
16. Vera Wang
Vera Wang is one of the hottest fashion designers right now in the competitive world of New York City. But before she became a successful fashion designer, Wang was actually a figure skater. In fact, she competed at the 1968 US Figure Skating Championships.
However, after failing to enter the US Olympics Team, she decided to enter the fashion industry and found her success there. Wang would still skate from time to time because she still enjoys the activity.
17. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
If it wasn’t for a surgery, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might’ve been in the professional football industry today. He used to play defensive tackle in 1991 when he was studying at the University of Miami. After several injuries, he was replaced. Afterward, Johnson would find his path into wrestling when he tryout to Pat Patterson and ultimately debuting in WWF as Rocky Maivia. His incredible success in the WWF games ended in 2004 when he went into mini-retirement, although he still made sporadic appearances in WWE.
His name ultimately landed him a lot of opportunities in the action-packed movie industry starting with humble beginnings in a Wyclef Jean single and hosting Saturday Night Live. In 2018, his Instagram account was the 8th most popular account in the world and he has a net worth of $80 million – way more than what he made wrestling on stage.
18. Sara Blakely
Sara Blakely is the founder and the owner of the underwear company Spanx. Before starting her own company, Blakely would sell fax machines in Florida from door-to-door. Because of this job, Blakely tried to find a pantyhose that didn’t roll up when cut. This became the inspiration of Spanx.
After saving $5,000, made a prototype of her products with the help of her mother and friends, and created her own company. Sara Blakely today has a net worth north of $1 billion dollars.
19. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Before being known as “The Terminator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be a bodybuilder. In fact, he is considered to be among the prominent figures of bodybuilding history. He even won the title of Mr. Olympia from 1970 to 1975.
Eventually moving away from bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger would be cast in a film called “Pumping Iron” in 1977, which improved his profile as an amateur actor. He will then become a household name after his appearance in the movie “The Terminator” in 1984.
20. Jonah Peretti
Jonah Paretti is one of the co-founders and the current CEO BuzzFeed, which he and John S. Johnson III co-founded in 2006. Paretti is also one of the co-founders of The Huffington Post, which is an internet news site.
Before his crazy, legendary success as an internet entrepreneur started Paretti was simply a local computer science teacher at the Isidore Newman School in New Orleans during the mid-1990s.
21. Carlos Slim
Carlos Slim is a businessman, engineer, and investor who became a successful conglomerate called the Grupo Carso. As of is year. Slim is considered by Forbes as the fifth richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $63.1 billion. Before founding Grupo Carso, Slim started his career as a stock trader who works 14 hours a day in Mexico. When his savings finally reached his $400,000 threshold, Slim started the Inversora Bursatil (a brokerage firm), as well as the financial groundwork of Grupo Carso.
22. Tim and Nina Zagat
Before starting their restaurant compilation called “Zagat Restaurant Surveys,” Nina and Tim Sagat were both corporate lawyers based in New York. Nina was an associate in Shearman & Sterling while Tim worked at Hughes Hubbard Law Firm.
In 1979, they established the Zagat Survey which became one of the best restaurant rating guides in the country. Zagat Surveys was acquired by Google last 2011 for $150 million and became incorporated to Google’s Geo and Commerce Group.
23. Brian Hart
Brian Hart already got the idea of a financial PR agency when he was 27. However, he doesn’t have any fund in order to execute his business idea, so he planned to stay in his corporate job for another year. Luckily, a firm who was looking at a new PR representation offered him support, which he accepted. After quitting his corporate job, Hart became the founder and the current President of Flackable, a public relations agency for financial services. Hart won several awards including Adweek’s 2015 PR Industry 30 Under 30.
24. Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba is a well known Hollywood actress made appearances in movies such as Fantastic Four, Machete Kills, and Honey. In 2012, Alba made a collaboration with business partner Christopher Gavigan to form a business venture called “The Honest Company” which sells household goods, baby and body care products.
Christopher Gavigan wrote the book, Healthy Child Healthy World, that addresses all the different toxins that children are exposed to in traditional household products. In the U.S., the F.D.A has banned fewer than a dozen harmful chemicals, while in Europe more than 1,300 chemicals are deemed unsafe for household products. With this research, Alba and Gavigan decided to create a company that avoids putting those 1,300 chemicals in its products– The Honest Company
Alba’s idea of starting the “The Honest Company” was primarily for her daughter, Honor, because she wanted honest products made without ingredients such as petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances. Two years later, it was already valued at $1 billion. Alba also made her own skincare and beauty products which she called “Honest Beauty”.
25. Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen
You might remember Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen for their depiction of the character Michelle Tanner on long-running sitcom Full House. After their time as child actresses, the two became more interested fashion than in acting. Their last film was during “New York Minute” in 2004. Since their absence from film and TV, they established their own clothing lines called Mary-Kate and Ashley Real fashion for real girls. The Olsens also launched “The Row” and “Elizabeth & James.”
26. Garrett Gee
Garrett Gee is the owner of the blog called The Bucketlist Family, where he records his adventures together with his family all around the world. Born to a Philippino mother and American father, he has raised LSD and spent his time between California and Utah. When he was a freshman at the Brigham Young University, he and his team developed an app called “Scan.”
Although he dropped out of college to continue Scan’s development, Gee and his team managed to make it into a successful app and business in four years. The app was featured on Shark Tank and acquired for $54 million dollars! Gee left Scan to run his travel site while also focusing on the development of the new app which will be released soon.
27. Jessica Simpson
Jessica Simpson started working on her career as a singer in 1999 when she released her album called “Sweet Kisses.” But most infamously she was cited more as a dumb blonde due to her tuna can observations during the hit show “Newlyweds” with Nick Lachey. The show lasted 3 seasons.
By 2005, Simpson released her own fashion line called “The Jessica Simpson Collection,” which is now reported to earn $1 billion annual sales by 2014. Starting in 2010, Simpson focused more on her business careers instead of music or acting. Now, she is working with her workout clothing line called “Warm Up” and announced that this business venture would likely be her focus in the future.
28. Gloria Michelle Otieno
Gloria Michelle Otieno was an employee at the Kenya Airways working at the customer service department of the company. Otieno was not passionate in her job, that’s why she started to hatch a plan to start her own company while working at her corporate job. With her excellent social media skills, she helped her first-ever client to build an impressive CV. After the client recommended Otieno to his other friends and getting more success in this job, Otieno opened Recours Four Kenya Consultants – a leading HR company in Kenya.
29. Nicole Pomjie
Nicole Pomjie spent four years at her corporate job when she realized that there is no future for advancement for her in the company.
After quitting her job, she decided to start The Cookie Cups, which sells dessert products she accidentally invented while baking cookies. Essentially they are cookies cooked in mini cupcake tins which forms adorable cups for other toppings. The Cookie Cup is sold online, local markets, and food events. Pomjie’s success became a success that it was featured in “The Jason Show.”
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30. Judy Joo
Judy Joo is a restaurant owner and a television personality known for appearances in shows such as Iron Chefs, Iron Chef UK, and The Next Iron Chef. Joo is also the host of Korean Food Made Simple.
Before her career as a chef started, she worked at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as a fixed-income derivatives saleswoman. This decision to abandon her career in finance was after she started attending The French Culinary Institute, which sparked her love for cooking.
31. Munaf and Nafisa Kapadia
Munaf Kapadia had a high-paying job at Google before going into a business venture with her mother, Nafisa. Munaf started selling her mother’s “samosas,” an Indian snack which contains spaced vegetables or meat. This venture created The Bohri Kitchen, which is now one of the most famous restaurants in Mumbai.
32. JK Rowling
Who doesn’t know the author of our generation of Star Wars? JK Rowling is one of the most recognized authors of this generation, creating the all-time favorite “Harry Potter” series.
During the time she was writing the first book, Rowling was teaching English as a foreign language in Porto, Portugal. She would be in a coffee shop in London writing well into midnight about an orphan child wizard. After a lot of challenges she faced, Rowling finally got her book published after Bloomsbury chairman Barry Cunningham agreed to publish 1,000 copies of the book.
33. Victoria Beckham
Victoria Beckham had success in her singing career when she and her group, “Spice Girls” managed to rose to fame during the 1990s. In 2000, Spice Girls stopped recording to pursue their individual endeavors. As the years passed, Beckham became an international fashion icon and designer. In 2008, she released The Victoria Beckham Fashion line. She was also featured in different fashion magazines such as Vogue and W.
34. Nicole Richie
Nicole Richie starred in the reality series called “The Simple Life” with her childhood best friend, Paris Hilton. After her stint at the show, she started her acting career and debuted in “Kids in America.”
In 2008, after being featured in a lot of several fashion publications, Richie started her own jewelry line called “House of Harlow 1960.” By 2010, the jewelry line has expanded to apparel, shoes, and, stationaries, and fragrance collection in partnership with numerous firms.
35. Evan Williams
Evan Williams is the founder of Blogger and Medium, sites that publish contents from upcoming and expert content creators. In addition, Williams was once the CEO of Twitter, which is one of the biggest social media sites in the world.
But before he became a famous internet entrepreneur, Williams was working as a project manager at Google. He left the company in 2004 to start his own podcast company called Odeo.
36. Charles Phillips
Charles Philips is currently the CEO of Infor, a company that provides services for enterprise software applications. Philips created this company after leaving Oracle, where he has been the CEO for seven years.
He took a $27 million pay cut to fund his own passion-inspired startup. Infor now operates in 200 countries and earns $2 billion as of 2016. The company now works with other multinational firms such as Heineken, Jaguar, Ferrari, and Levi’s.
37. Jan Koum
In 1997, Jan Koum was hired at Yahoo! Even before finishing his studies. Koum stayed in the site for nine years before he left with his friend Brian Acton. When both Koum and Acton applied to Facebook, they were both rejected. After two years, Koum created WhatsApp, which became popular after Apple enabled the “ping” notification. A few years later, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion.
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38. Thomas P. Nguyen
Thomas Nguyen knew that he hated his job as an attorney. At the age of 27, he knows that he had to do something before its too late, that’s why he quit his job and finally pursue his passion: to become an entrepreneur.
After 10 years of managing his South African restaurant called Peli Peli, he finally found his success. Peli Peli now ranked third in Houston from big restaurant review sites such as Tripadvisor and Yelp. Peli Peli has been featured on “So We Eat” on FOX. It is one of the only restaurants that blend South African with Southeast Asian, Dutch, and Portgeoues influences in the world.
39. Lisa Chu
As a sales agent for an apparel company, Lisa Chu felt the need to be more. Listening to her passion for fashion, she quit her job and started his own clothing brand, Black N Bianco Kids – a children’s formal wear brand. After two years, her clothing line is now successful. Additionally, she can finally do the things she loves and sees customers enjoy the products she designed.
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