The term ‘entrepreneur’ has been taken from the French entreprendre, meaning to undertake. In the common usage the term stands for the owner or the manager of a business enterprise who takes initiative and risk in an attempt to make profit. The term first appeared in 1723 in the French Dictionary, Dictionnaire Universel de Commerce. It was first explained by the French Economist Richard Cantillon, as a person who pays a certain price for a product to resell it at an uncertain price. The entrepreneur makes the decisions about acquiring and using the resources and bears the consequent risk of the enterprise. W. B. Gartner defined it in 1985 as ‘Entrepreneur is a person who started a new business where there was none before.’ The essential qualities of an entrepreneur, according to Schumpeter, include use of new technology, innovative products and services, increased efficiency, and productivity.
1. Bill Gates
William Henry Gates III, better known as Bill Gates, was born to William H. Gates II and Mary Gates on October 28, 1955 in Seattle, Washington, USA. He is considered the most successful entrepreneur and ranked as the richest person in the world from 1995-2006. Ever since his childhood, Bill was a keen, ambitious, and intelligent learner. He left for Harvard University in 1973 but did not find his studies very interesting. Along with his close friend Allen, he started a small company Taf-O-Data, and they developed software to measure traffic flow. They earned $20,000 from the project. A year after leaving Harvard, he formed the Microsoft corporation. On November 10, 1983, Microsoft Windows was launched, making him the most successful entrepreneur. Bill and his wife Melinda later founded the Melinda Gates Foundation and donated billions of dollars to academic institutions. He intends to give away 95% of all his earnings when he is old. He believes in intelligence and hard work, and does not believe in luck factor or God’s gift.
2. Walt Disney
Walter Disney, better known as Walt Disney, is one of the most successful and most identifiable entrepreneurs in the world. Walter Disney was born on December 5, 1901 and died on December 15, 1966. Readiness to embark on a risky venture is a distinguishing feature of successful entrepreneurs. In spite of the utter disapproval of the people around him, he persisted on launching Mickey Mouse, and ultimately the character was a huge success. He was told that women would be afraid of seeing a big mouse, but he remained undeterred .Walt Disney is one of the most famous and successful entrepreneurs. He was also a well known film producer, animator, screen writer and a voice director. By dint of his innovative capabilities, intelligence, hard work, and believing in himself, from a meager and troubled start he emerged as an international icon with his success incarnated in the form of Disney Theme Parks. The Walt Disney Company generates annual revenue in excess of $30 billion.
3. Rob Lewis
Rob Lewis was born on May 23, 1969 in London, United Kingdom. He is one of the most famous and successful entrepreneurs. He was educated at The Latymer School, London and received his Master’s degree in Economics from Jesus College, Cambridge. He owns several publishing and technology ventures including Cromwell Media, Technology Magazine, Silicon Media Group, Omnifone, and raras.com. At the age of thirty years, The Guardian reported Lewis as one of the top six most successful entrepreneurs in U.K. He has won several awards including 2009 Ernest and Yong Entrepreneur of the Year, London and South Award, PwC UK Technology, Innovation and Growth Awards, Entrepreneur of the Year 2008, and Mobile Magazine Power 50, 2008.
4. James Watt
James Watt was born on January 19, 1736 in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland and died on August 25, 1819 at the age of 83 years in Handsworth, Birmingham, England. He is best known for an improvement made in the Newcomen Steam engine, which revolutionized industry in Great Britain and the rest of the World. He improved the engine design to prevent energy loss through continuous heating followed by cooling of the cylinders. His success came due to identifying the problem, knowing the cause, and finding an effective solution to prevent energy loss in an older steam engine. However, his efforts to commercialize would not have been a success without the right partnership, with Matthew Boulton in 1775.
5. Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio, U.S. and died on October 18, 1931 at the age of 84 years in West Orange, New Jersey, U.S. He was one of the most famous American entrepreneurs and inventors. He is best known for the invention of phonograph, movie camera, and practical light bulb. He was the fourth most prolific American inventor and held 1,093 U.S. Patents. Starting as a telegraph operator, he became a successful entrepreneur after installing a power station in Manhattan, New York. His electric power generation and distribution system influenced businesses the world over.
6. Michael Dell
Michael Dell’s parents wanted him to become a doctor; therefore they sent him to the University of Texas in 1983. They were furious when Dell informed them after a while that he wanted to quit his studies. To please them, he agreed to return to the University, if he failed to do business. However, he neither failed nor resumed his studies. He founded the extremely successful Dell Computer Corp. in 1987, earning more than $159 million by the end of 1988. Dell said, ‘You don’t have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream.”
7. Barry Diller
Barry Diller was born to Reva and Michael Diller in a Jewish family .He is best known for creating Fox Broadcasting Company and USA Broadcasting. He is the Chairman of Inter Active Corp. He quit his studies at UCLA after just one semester and started working with the William Morris Agency. Elton Reul, the west coast head of ABC, hired him as his assistant. He was then raised to a prominent position to negotiate broadcast rights to feature films. In 1965 he became Vice President of Development and pioneered the concept of made-for-television movies and created the ABC Movie of the Week.
8. Bill Hewlett
Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established the legendary culture for entrepreneurship. Karry Patterson of vitalsmarts commented ‘As your ideas blossom into products, which further burgeon into companies, if you don’t think about your corporate culture, your chances of success are severely reduced’. Patterson considered HP as a template for the entrepreneur. Innovation is the key to success of entrepreneurs. HP DeskJet 205, a three-in-one printer, scanner and copier, is an example of an innovation which leads an entrepreneur to success.
9. Oprah Gail Winfrey
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954 to a poor family in rural Mississippi. She is an American entrepreneur, media proprietor, talk show host, and philanthropist. She literally rose from rags to riches. She had a troubled childhood. Starting from a third-rated local Chicago talk show, she ultimately embarked upon her self-titled, multiple-awards-winning and the most famous talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. For some time she has been the only black billionaire in the world. She has promoted confessional culture and liberated people from the cultural taboo of LGBT. She extended valuable support to the President Obama during his election campaign. She is considered one of the most influential women in the world.
10. Donald John Trump, Sr.
Donald John Trump, Sr. was born to Fred Trump and Mary Anne on June 14, 1946 in Queens, New York City, USA. He is an American author, television personality, and business tycoon. He is the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts and chairman of the Trump Organization. His extravagant life style has made him a celebrity, ranked at number fourteen on the 2012 Forbes Celebrity 100 list. He studied at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and worked in his father’s firm, Elizabeth Trump and Son. In 2010 Trump showed interest in the contest for the presidential elections of 2012, but in 2011 he announced that he will not be a presidential candidate.
The quintessential characteristic of an entrepreneur is the readiness to embark upon new ventures and explore untrodden paths, with the knowledge of the risks that might arise during the conduct of a new business. It is in fact this factor of boldness which has played the pivotal role in the success of many famous entrepreneurs. There is no doubt that hard work does count and that there is no short cut to hard work, but history seems to imply that the success of the famous entrepreneurs could not have been the result of hard work alone.