For the most part, every great entrepreneur, who hasn't inherited his riches, has had to work hard for what he's gotten. And then there are those who had to go through the struggle. If you think your road to success is bumpy, take heart. These guys might be able to feel your pain, or, most likely, may have felt more.
It took a bit of self-reflection for Woodman to get to where he is now. Before he made it big with his GoPro cameras, he had to do some soul searching after failing with his first two entrepreneurial attempts, the second of which drew distinct ridicule. In an interview with Forbes, Woodman stated:
"I failed and deserved to be on f**ckedcompany (A site dedicated to documenting, as the name implies, failed companies),” says Woodman. “I mean nobody likes to fail, but the worst thing was I lost my investors’ money and these were people that believed in this young guy that was passionate about this idea… [When you fail] you start to question, are my ideas really good?”
Woodman picked himself up though, and after building his first miniature camera, which he tethered to his wrist while surfing, he found the concept that would drive him to success, all the while remembering his failure.
“I was so afraid that GoPro was going to go away like Funbug that I would work my ass off,” he says, recalling days where he was the company’s only employee, acting as its truck driver, salesman, product designer, customer service support and product model. Says Woodman of his 'constructive fear:' “That’s what the first boom and bust did for me. I was so scared that I would fail again that I was totally committed to succeed.” “To get GoPro started I moved back in with my parents and went to work seven days a week, 20 hours a day. I wrote off my personal life to make headway on it.”
Years later, Woodman has turned himself into one of the world's youngest millionaires with a personal net worth of $1.3 billion.
Before funding the Mavericks all the way to an NBA Championship in 2011, before becoming a celebrity investor on ABC's "Shark Tank," Mark Cuban was the most modest of hard workers. Despite his hard work through high school and college, he had it rough in the workforce early on. Instead of "crying life's not fair," he made it fair for himself.
"At age 24, I left Indiana and hit the road in my 1977 Fiat X19. I was on my way to Dallas. The car had a hole in the floorboard. It needed oil every 60 miles," Cuban said in this Forbes profile piece. "In Dallas, I moved into a tiny apartment with five buddies at a place called The Village... We had only three bedrooms and three beds. I slept on the floor. I had no closet and no dresser. I just stacked my clothes in a corner. The place was a dump, and we just destroyed it even more."
Cuban also recalls working for bosses he hated, having (essentially) ran away from his first manager after being hated on and, when he found his way to Dallas, was fired after he made an ambitious sale behind another manager's back (this manager was hating too, quite frankly). After leaving that company, Your Business Software, he found a way to start his own, MicroSolutions, at the age of 25.
"MicroSolutions grew into a company with $30 million in revenues. I sold it a few years later to CompuServe. That start enabled me to found AudioNet, which became Broadcast.com, which my partner, Todd Wagner, and I sold to Yahoo!. Then came the Dallas Mavericks and everything else, of course."
If you're a fan of Will Smith, then you'll definitely be a fan of this man whom the Fresh Prince portrayed in the 2006 film "Pursuit of Happyness." Chris Gardner, just to recap, is the head of his own multimillion-dollar stock brokerage firm, Garner Rich and Co. who had to endure a year of homelessness before reaping the rewards of hard work.
"In 1982, Chris Gardner was just another go-getter in the training program at Dean Witter's San Francisco office, making $1,000 a month. He was also homeless. Gardner couldn't afford both day care for his 20-month-old son, whom he was raising alone, and a place to live. So for a year he and Chris Jr. slept where they could - cheap hotel rooms in West Oakland, a shelter at a church in the Tenderloin, under his office desk, even, on occasion, the bathroom at the Bay Area Rapid Transit MacArthur station."
Gardner's story was so compelling that a motion picture based on his life was always inevitable and, not to mention, deserved. After he founded his company in 1987, without a college degree, he started his own business with $10,000 that is still going strong today.
As BusinessWeek put it, that's "Not bad for a guy who, six years before founding his own brokerage firm, was 'fighting, scratching, and crawling [his] way out of the gutter with a baby on [his] back.'"
Before Daymond John joined fellow shark Mark Cuban on ABC, the Queens, New York native was in his basement -- that is, when he wasn't on shift at Red Lobster -- making clothes for us by us, young people, presumably. In regards to how difficult it was to promote his product while working, he told fourhourworkweek.com:
"I would wake up at about 7 or 8 in the morning, and I would sew the hats by myself, tag them, answer a couple of orders that came in overnight. Then I’d take the hats, package them, and begin to ship them out. I took care of all of that until about Noon or 1 PM. Then I’d hit up Red Lobster around 4, work there until midnight, come back home, make more hats, and tally up any orders until about 1 or 2 in the morning. I’d start the routine all over again the next day. I did this for about two years straight."
The Miami Herald then recounts the point at which John never looked back.
"The turning point: Through a “need financing” ad placed by his mom, Samsung Textile Division provided financing as long as he would sell $5 million in three years. He ended up selling $30 million in three months. When LL Cool J appeared in a Gap commercial wearing a FUBU cap, sales shot to $350 million."
Photos Credit: WENN