Jean Baptiste Say, who was a French economist, coined the term ‘entrepreneur’ in the 19th century. According to him, ‘an entrepreneur is one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as an intermediary between capital and labor.’ The entrepreneur is well equipped with management and team-building skills. In the 20th century, many successful entrepreneurs have led their firms, organizations, or business entities to outstanding levels of success. Common factors in their success are: the capabilities to select competent management, build a cohesive and object-oriented team, and lead it to achieve the goal.
1. Bill Gates
William Henry Gates, best known as ‘Bill Gates,’ was born in Seattle,Washington, U.S. on October 28, 1955. He got his early education from Lakeside School and continued receiving further education from Harvard University. He is Chairman of Microsoft Corporation, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CEO of Cascade Investment, and Chairman of Corbis. Working since 1975, he is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the 20th century. Along with Paul Allen, Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft Corporation with its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, U.S. Microsoft, with Bill Gates being its Chairman and Steve Ballmer, emerged as the most famous Internet and computer software industry giant. Best known as an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist, William Henry ‘Bill’ Gates III ranks consistently among the wealthiest people of the world.
2. Henry Ford
Henry Ford was born in Greenfield Township, Michigan, U.S. on June 30, 1863 and died in Fair Lane, on his Dearborn estate Michigan, U.S. on April 7, 1947 at the age of 83. He founded the Automaker which was incorporated on June 16, 1903. In addition to Ford and Lincoln, Ford owns or shares: Mazda, Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Land Rover, Volvo, and Mercury. Some of these models have been discontinued or sold out. Ford revolutionized the manufacturing of automobiles by introducing an engineered manufacturing sequence to manage the workforce on large scale through his use of moving assembly lines. The method was globally accepted and termed as ‘Fordism.’ Ford is the fifth largest automaker in the world and the second largest in America. William C. Ford, Jr. is the Executive Chairman while Alan R. Mulally is the President and CEO of the company.
3. Raymond Albert ‘Ray’ Kroc
Raymond Albert Kroc was born in Oak Park, Illinois, U.S. on October 5, 1902 and died in San Diego, California, U.S. on January 14, 1984 at the age of 81 on account of heart failure. He joined McDonalds in 1954 and made this fast-food operation the most successful entrepreneurship in its time and class. Raymond was listed in Time magazine’s ‘100 Most Important People of the Century.’ He also owned the San Diego Padres baseball team. In 1961 Kroc bought the company for $2.7 million but maintained McDonalds brothers Speedee Service System saying, ‘It isn’t fast food if you have to wait for more than five minutes, then the food should be free.’ He emphasized the need for cleanliness, and it was routine for idle workers to hear, ‘If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.’
4. Larry Ellison
Lawrence Joseph Ellison, better known as Larry Ellison, was born in the Bronx, New York City, New York, U.S. on August 17, 1944. He was adopted by an uncle and aunt in Chicago at the age of nine months. Larry Ellison was educated at Eugene Field Elementary School, Sullivan High School, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Chicago. He is known for founding Oracle Corporation and being its CEO. In 1977, Larry, Bob Miners, and Ed Oates started a consultancy firm Software Development Laboratories (SDL) which first developed the Oracle software. Also known as ORDBMS, Oracle is an Object Relational Database Management System. Starting from his initial investment of $1,400 in 1979, he is now one of the richest people in the world.
5. Warren Buffet
Warren Edward Buffet was born in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. on August 30, 1930. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Nebraska-Lincoln for his BS and Columbia University for his MS. He is Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, founded by Oliver Chace in the 19th century, emerging as a huge conglomerate in the 20th century. It owns diverse businesses including a confectionery, railroad, jewelry, encyclopedias, newspaper publishing, and household furnishings, etc. He is regarded as a legendary entrepreneur and variously known as the ‘Wizard of Omaha, Oracle of Omaha or Sage of Omaha.’ He has pledged to give away 99 per cent of his wealth through the Gates Foundation to charity. Warren Buffet is one of the richest persons in the world.
6. Sam Walton
Samuel Moore ‘Sam Walton’ was born to Thomas Gibson Walton and Nancy Lee in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, U.S. on March 29, 1918 and died in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S. on April 15, 1992 at the age of 74. He received his education from the University of Missouri. He is best known for founding the retailers Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Starting his job as a sales trainee at the JCPenny Store, Iowa in 1940, Sam Walton rose to a position that in 1992 his net worth was U.S. $23 billion, and he was the wealthiest person in the world. He was a staunch believer in the bare minimum profit and maximum customer satisfaction saying, ‘There is only one boss, the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down simply by spending his money somewhere else.’
7. Walt Disney
Walter Elias Disney, globally known as Walt Disney, was born to Elias Disney and Flora Call Disney in Hermosa, Chicago, Illinois, U.S. on December 5, 1901 and died in Burbank, California, U.S. on December 15, 1966 at the age of 65. He is best known as the co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, formerly known as Walt Disney Productions. He was a well-known, multi-dimensional entrepreneur as a producer, director, animator, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist. He co-founded Walt Disney Productions with his brother Roy O. Disney. Becoming first the best motion picture producers, the corporation is now known as The Walt Disney Company with annual revenues of U.S. $36 billion approximately in the fiscal year. He is the record winner of the Academy Awards. His brother, Roy Disney, inaugurated the magic kingdom on October 1, 1971.
8. John D. Rockfeller
John Davison Rockefeller was born to William Avery Rockefeller and Eliza Davison in Richford, New York, U.S on June 8, 1839 and died in The Casements, Ormond Beach, Florida, U.S. on May 23, 1937 at the age of 97. He was educated at Owego Academy, Cleveland Central High School, and Folsom’s Commercial College. Young Rockfeller helped his mother and earned some money by raising turkeys, selling candy, and then extending small loans to neighbors. His salary for the first three months of his first job as an assistant bookkeeper at Hewitt and Tuttle was $50, 6 per cent of which he gave away to charity. Later on, Rockefeller emerged as the founder and former chairman of the Standard Oil Company, founder of the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University, founder of the General Education Board, founder of the Rockefeller Foundation. Adjusting for inflation, Rockefeller was the richest person in history.
9. Henry Ross Perot
Henry Ross Perot was born to Luly Mayo Perot and Gabriel Ross Perot in Texarkana, Texas, U.S. on June 27, 1930. He was educated at Texarkana Junior College and the United States Naval Academy. He is best known for running independently for the Presidency of the United States. He founded Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 1962 and sold it to General Motors in 1984 followed by the founding the Perot System and selling it to Dell for $3.9 billion. According to Forbes he is the 99th richest person in the United States.
10. Milton S. Hershey
Milton Snavely Hershey was born to Veronica ‘Fanny’ Snavely and Henry Hershey in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, U.S. on September 13, 1857 and died in Hershey, Pennsylvania, U.S. on October 13, 1945 at the age of 88. He founded the Hershey Chocolate Company and the company town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. He was a great philanthropist. The United States Postal Service issued a 32¢ Great American Series (1980-2000) to honor him.
Most of the famous entrepreneurs of the 20th century had a meager beginning, followed by a struggling period with the only objective to get money. For they believed that ‘money is only to be gotten.’ A study of their lives reflects a paradigm shift from this philosophy, and most of them turned into philanthropists believing that money was meant to be ‘spent only’ for charitable causes.