10 Top Business Men and Women - How They All Started

Posted on March 21, 2013

Ever wondered what the big businessmen and women did to kick start their working career? What were their first jobs? What were their failures and successes? We have picked out 10 famous business men and women who have had a few ups and downs before they became millionaires!

Lord Alan Sugar was born in Hackney into a Jewish Family and for most of his childhood, his family lived in a council flat. Whilst attending secondary school, he wanted to make some extra cash so he started working at a greengrocers. After leaving school at the age of 16, he worked for the civil service as a statistician at the Ministry of Education then shortly after he bought a van worth £50.00 of his savings and started selling car aerials and electrical goods.

Sir Richard Branson is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Virgin Group. At the age of 16, he started up his first business venture, a magazine called Student, whilst attending Stowe School, in Buckingham. Branson is dyslexic and had poor academic performance when he was a student, but found that he has a natural ability to connect with people. Four years later, he set up an audio-record mail-order business and in 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, under the name of Virgin Records.

Deborah Meaden left school at the age of 16 and went on to study business at Brighton Techincal College after which she worked as a sales-room model in a fashion house. After graduating at the age of 19, he moved to Italy and set up a glass and ceramics export agency. The company failed just after 18 months. in 1988, she joined her family's business to run its amusement arcade and in 1992 joined Weststar Holidays, a family holiday park operator. She acquired the majority shareholding and by the time she sold the company, 6 years later the Weststar was providing holidays for more than 150,000 people. Deborah made a partial exit in 2005 when Weststar was sold to Phoenix Equity Partners, and in 2007, her remaining stake was liquidated when the firm was sold to Alchemy Partners. In 2011, Deborah launched The Merchant Fox, an online store selling British-made luxury goods.

Steve Jobs learnt the basic of electronics from his adopted father when was younger. Paul Jobs (his father) taught him how the take apart and rebuild electronics such as radios and televisions in their garage - as a result of this, Steve became interested and developed a hobby for technical tinkering. At the age of 19, he took on a technician job at Atari Inc. and travelled to and around India for seven months. When he went back to America, he changed his appearance by shaving his head and wearing traditional Indian clothing.

Donald Trump is the chairman and president of The Trump Organisation and founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts. Trump started is business career at Elizabeth Trump and Son, his father's company which focused on middle-class rental housing. His first project whilst he was still in college was the revitalization of the Swifton Village apartment complex in Cincinnati. He sold the complex for $6.74 million.

Karren Brady began her career at Saatchi & Saatchi when she was just 18 years old, but moved on soon after to London Broadcasting Company as a sales executive.She became director within a year after she joined Sport Newspapers Ltd in 1988. Brady is now know as the first woman in football. After spending 16 years as Managing Director of Birmingham City she managed to turn their fortunes around and made an overall profit for the first time in modern history. In 2010, Karren was appointed Vice Chairman of West Ham United FC as well as being an England 2018 Board Member, a Non-Excutive Director of Mothercare PLC, a Chairman at Kerrang!, a Non-Executive Director of Sport England, Arcadia and Syco - this woman can certainly multi-task.

Ray Kroc built up one of the most successful fast food chains in the world. Yes we are talking about Mcdonalds. Kroc had a few occupations starting with the First World War. After lieing about his age, he became a Red Cross ambulance driver at the age of 15. He served in the same regiment as Walt Disney. Towards the end of the war, he entered in many trades such as a paper cup salesman, a pianist, a jazz musician and a radio DJ at Oak park radio station. Ray also worked for one of Ray Dambaugh's restaurants. He learnt all about the restaurant business and eventually became a multi-mixer milkshake machine sales man. Then in 1954, he joined McDonalds and turned it into the fast food chain we know today.

Peter Jones is a British businessman who has invested in more than 40 businesses in publishing, new media, television, entertainment, food products, the environment and product design. In his early stages of his career, he set up a computer business where he made computers under his own brand. Then in his mid twenties, he was inspired by the film Cocktail starring Tom Cruise and opened a cocktail bar in Windsor. But both ventures failed and he gave up his home and cars and moved back with his parents and joined Siemens Nixdorf. After leaving Siemens, he set up Phones International Group in April 1998. The company was on of the fastest growing businesses in Europe. He then set up other businesses and invested in some companies which has lead him to being one of best businessmen in the UK.

Mark Zuckerberg began using computers and writing software in middle school. He was taught the Atari BASIC Programming when he was only six years old by his father. He built a software program called 'ZuckNet', that allowed all the computers between the house and his fathers dental office to communicate. In his sophmore year, he wrote a program he called 'Coursematch', which allowed users to make class selection decisions based on the choices of other students and also to help them form study groups. He then created another program he initially called 'Facemash'. This program let students select the best looking person from a choice of photos. It was closed down by Harvard College after one weekend because it's popularity overwhelmed one of the Harvard's network switches and prevented students from accessing the internet. Then in 2004, Facebook was launched from Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory.

Mohammed Al-Fayed is the owner and chairman of Fulham Football Club. Fayed and his brothers founded a shipping company in Egypt. They moved to their headquarters in Italy soon after - which has additional offices in London. He then started a close relationship with Francis Duvalier and became intrigued with the concept of the Fayed-Duvalier oil refinery in Haiti. Six months later, Fayed finished his stay in Haiti after an associate provided low-grade molasses, crude oil. Fayed then helped Sheikh Rashid, the ruler of Dubai, transform and put Dubai on the map and introduced British companies to the country. After many years, he then bought Fulham Football Club in 1997 for £6.25 million. His aim was that Fulham would become a FA premier league side within 5 years of buying the club.


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