If one wishes to go down the path to starting one’s own business, sometimes the journey is not always smooth. In fact, just ask any entrepreneur and more often than not, it helps to hear successful business stories when you’re stuck in the details of writing a business plan, getting a business loan, the whole works. At every level of successful businesses – be it small, medium, and lark alike – all of them have went through some personal obstacles. To ease and inspire you, here are eight (8) tremendously successful entrepreneur stories where you can take away from each to inform your own business decisions.
1. Yung-Ching Wang – Formosa Plastic Group
Yung-Ching Wang was an influential entrepreneur who founded one of the largest plastic manufacturers in the world – Formosa Plastic Group. His success is also a great example being that it was a business that started from scratch. Even though he was born in poverty and received his formal education up until elementary school, Wang steered the Formosa Plastic Group for more than 40 years, becoming one of the largest private enterprise in Taiwan. Today, the Formosa Plastic Group is perceived as highly favorable from the people as an economic symbol of Taiwan. Wang, in the same time, is described as “the king of entrepreneur of Taiwan.”
What you can learn from Yung-Ching Wang are some great attitudes in life such as determination, relentless efforts, and insistence. No matter how far away one’s dream is, it cannot be reached without insistence and a strong will. The key factor to success is how much efforts you have to put in your work.
2. Terry Gou – Foxconn
Before becoming one of Taiwan’s richest men and the founder of Foxconn, Terry Gou had struggling beginnings. Until the age of 24, he tried his luck in all sorts of work, from working in a rubber factory and at a grinding wheel, to working in a medicine plant. In 1974, he started a business with a $7,500 loan from his mother in a rented shed in Tucheng, a suburb of Taipei, with 10 elderly workers making plastic knobs for radios. Today, Foxconn is known for manufacturing components for the likes of Apple, Dell, Sony, IBM and Nokia, building a reputation in the industry for being an affordable, efficient and reliable supplier.
Thanks to his eye for detail and focus on quality, Gou has climbed his way to the top and brought Foxconn with him all the way. His ambitious plans only continued to grow as he expressed his intention of expanding the company into telecommunications and software development.
3. Jan Koum – WhatsApp
Born in the then-Soviet Union, Koum moved with his family to California in 1992, where a social support programme initiated by the state allowed the family to receive a small apartment. At 16, the young entrepreneur took a cleaning job at a grocery store to help support his mother. After he self-taught how-to code, he then spent the next 9 years at Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer. However, Koum’s eureka moment came in 2009 when he realised the potential of Apple’s then-fledgling app store. Koum then created WhatsApp a week later, utilising the ability to push notification apps on iPhones and establishing the app as an alternative to traditional SMS messaging. In 2014, Mark Zuckerberg became interested, with Facebook acquiring WhatsApp for $19 billion and appointing Koum to its board of directors.
4. Richard Branson – Virgin Group
No list of startup inspiration stories would be complete without the inclusion of Richard Branson, who has seemingly (and successfully) tried his hand at every possible line of investment across the last 40 years.
Poorly performing at school and diagnosed with dyslexia, Richard bestowed the unfortunate title of Virgin on his first enterprise, supposedly due to his then-status as a “virgin at business”. Luckily, that first venture was the hugely profitable importing and re-selling of music records during the 1960s, alongside the management of the popular Student magazine.
As a result, Branson was able to open a dedicated record store in London in 1971. He used the profits from this project to then establish Virgin Records, working with many of the artists that he’d previously interviewed for Student, such as the Rolling Stones. From there, Branson has created and developed market-leading products and services in aviation, media, beverages and rail transport among many others; his personal net worth is estimated to be around $4.9 billion, as he constantly seeks to invest his profits from one venture into another.
5. Konosuke Matsushita – Panasonic
Matsushita had humble roots. Born to a gambling father, Konosuke Matsushita started working at the age of 9 to support his family. Eventually, he started working for the Osaka Electric Light Company, where he quickly climbed the ladder of success without any prior formal education. This is the company where he came up with the design of an improved light socket, which was far superior than the bulbs available at the time. After getting rejected by an unenthusiastic boss, Matsushita took it upon himself to sell the light bulbs and started his own company. Without any business experience and with no real money available, he started manufacturing the new device alone, with the help he got from his wife and 3 other assistants.
In 1935, the Company, bearing in mind its various businesses, was incorporated as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. Unfortunately, it suffered greatly during World War II as Japan lost the War, but was saved due to Matsushita’s amazing skills as a leader. In the post War era, the Company came out with devices like rice cookers, air conditioners, washing machines and the product for which Panasonic is most famous—monochrome televisions (TVs.)
Matsushita managed to reach huge success in the business world mainly because of the paternal management philosophy he used. Relentless efforts for improvement, adaptability, cooperation and team spirit are one of the many core principles
6. Joyce Hall – Hallmark Cards
When 18-year-old Joyce Clyde Hall stepped off a train in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1910, he didn’t have much, saved for a damaged suitcase and two shoeboxes filled with picture postcards. Full of youthful enthusiasm, Joyce was determined to make his mark on the business world. He had big plans and the energy to make them happen. And happen they would-over the next 56 years, Hall would create a new industry and build the world’s largest greeting-card company.
Despite the passage of time, important lessons can still be learned from how Hall grew his innovative greeting card company with relentless determination, resilient optimism and wise resolve to never stop looking for the next big idea.
7. Chevy Beh – BookDoc
BookDoc is a mobile app that connects people to medical professionals. It is the first platform in Malaysia to offer this kind of service.
The founder, Chevy Beh, built the app after his friend had a near-death experience. His friend got ill with dengue fever, but the hospital misdiagnosed him and sent him home. When his friend’s condition worsened, Chevy sent him to the hospital. But the hospital didn’t admit him right away. Frustrated, he contacted another hospital and arranged his friend’s admission.
BookDoc allows users to locate and book medical appointments online. Their recent feature, BookDoc Activ, encourages people to stay fit. Users just need to sync their fitness tracker to the app. When they walk or run, BookDoc Activ will give them rewards.
Inspired by his close friend’s near-death experience and being a seasoned player in the healthcare industry, Beh pledged to do something to address the inefficiencies and information asymmetries in healthcare. He founded BookDoc with the goal of improving the timeliness of diagnosis and helping patients to find appropriate care.
8. Scott Lee – GooRoo
Founded in 2015 by Korean-born New Yorker Scott Lee, Gooroo Inc. is an AI-powered learning platform and tutoring hub that services personalize learning experiences. In only a few short years, Lee has been able to employ data-driven AI insights to drive innovation in the online learning space. Lee’s company employs more than 1,000 tutors in New York State alone.
But Gooroo isn’t Lee’s first attempt into business ownership. Before founding Gooroo, Lee created a Korean tutoring company, served in the Korean military, started a clothing company, and worked briefly in the US financial sector and advised the organizers of the 2018 Olympic Games. Using his diverse work experience, Lee learned how to make a successful business from scratch.
Scott Lee’s startup story proves that success doesn’t always take a linear form. Sometimes, entrepreneurial success is the result of a life-long diligence and a recognition that diverse experiences can lead to new, innovative ideas.
So, what do these successful entrepreneurs and their story teach us? Well, in entrepreneurial life, there is no wrong way to go about starting a business as long as you follow your heart, use your common sense, and manage your obstacles in a healthy way. Do you know other success stories of entrepreneurs? Write to us at [email protected]