In order to make it as a successful entrepreneur, you need a lot more than just a good idea. Inspiration might hit anybody in the world but, unless they’re gifted with the talent to make their idea work, their business plans and dreams can sink before they’ve even started. It takes a very specific type of person to be able to manage an entrepreneurial venture and for the most part, following the rules simply won’t cut it.
In the business world, the people who have really made it have had the courage to forge their own paths and break the rules in their industries. Along the way, they might have made an enemy or two but, by marching to the beat of their own drums, they have presented the world with some of the most unique ideas ever to have been seen. While now, they’re the good guys, when they were first starting out, these hugely successful entrepreneurs were some of the most rebellious forces in their fields of business. Refusing to walk with the crowd and listening only to their gut, they overlooked the warnings and advice of their peers and created their own futures, by hand. While it all might have started with a great idea, their startups thrived precisely because they were the ones who were behind it. Sometimes, in order to succeed, you need to colour outside of the lines.
1. Richard Branson
If you’re looking for the ultimate entrepreneurial rebel, then Richard Branson is your man. Despite being educated at an exclusive private boarding school in England, Branson decided to drop out at the age of 16 in order to follow his own path. Uninterested in the naysayers around him, he began to run a student-led magazine, which managed to rack up a phenomenal $8,000 worth of advertising in its first edition alone. In order to help fund his magazine, Branson had the idea to found a little company called Virgin, which delivered records by mail. Soon, the brand had built up enough revenue for Branson to buy a record shop and later on, a recording studio. With that, his mega-brand was formed.
While the entrepreneur has suffered a number of highs and lows throughout his career, his working mentality has always remained the same and as a result, he has always enjoyed success in some way. Unlike other business moguls, Branson works with a laid back approach, running the majority of his businesses from his own private island, with not a tie in sight. Branson’s mentality is if you can think it, you should make it a reality and while not all of his ventures have been international success stories, enough of them have worked in order to warrant his global success. If you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration, just look to Branson’s next plan.
2. Mark Zuckerberg
Starting young is a common theme in the world of business and across the globe, it seems like the most successful of entrepreneurs have already made waves in business before they have even left school. One of the most successful digital entrepreneurs of his generation, Mark Zuckerberg, helped alter the way in which the world communicates with one another. That’s no mean feat for someone who, at the time, was a college student. Famously captured in David Fincher’s movie The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg’s rise to the top was not exactly without challenges.
Agreeing to help a few classmates develop their own dating site, Zuckerberg soon left them to create the first version of Facebook. Less than pleased about his own venture, Zuckerberg’s classmates decided to sue the computer programmer for theft of intellectual property, something which resulted in a long and messy legal battle. While all of this was going on, however, Facebook was only getting bigger and bigger and not before long, it had become an international phenomenon. More than anyone, Zuckerberg is proof of the fact that, in order to make a name for yourself in business, you have to make a few enemies along the way. While he went about it in a more brutal way than others, he has reaped some of the richest rewards in the world. You can’t argue with that.
3. Jordan Belfort
Until The Wolf Of Wall Street made the movie rounds, the name Jordan Belfort didn’t really hold much influence. Since the huge success of the film, however, the plucky entrepreneur has hit the limelight once again and is now one of the most renowned figures in business. While Belfort’s story might not exactly be the most exemplary one out there, it certainly shows how breaking the rules can get you very far in the world of business.
Belfort was always a natural salesman and, using his innate ability to turn any conversation into a sale, he joined the team of a local brokerage firm, learning how to be a successful stock broker. After just two years, he had left the company and founded his own firm, Stratton Oakmont, in which he traded stocks. Using underhand tactics, Belfort managed to enjoy huge success and soon, was financially secure, living the high life.
Of course, what goes up must come down, and Belfort was eventually unceremoniously kicked out of the industry and facing some serious criminal charges. Despite this, however, he has managed to reinvent himself as a businessman and is now enjoying success of a different kind. After a stint in prison, Belfort turned his life around and now, runs a company that provides sales and marketing training for companies. He might have been a little more rebellious than most but, eventually, he has made it again.
4. Heather Gillette
Business isn’t just a boy’s game, however, and over the years, there have been some seriously successful female rebels making a name for themselves, and Heather Gillette is someone that you should be listening to. Founder and CEO of home-decorating site nousDecor, Gillette didn’t have the smoothest induction into the world of entrepreneurship. After a stint of running away from home, she dropped out of High School before graduation, looking for pastures new. The story didn’t end there, however, and after managing to wangle her way into the very newly formed startup Youtube, she learned on the job, picking up the techniques of entrepreneurship on the fly.
After managing content review and user-support teams at Youtube, she flew the nest, eventually founding her own home decorating company. Using her gift of the gab, Gillette managed to form an incredibly successful business, nousDecor, which is now at the top of its game in the interiors industry. A rebel from the word go, Gillette soon became an entrepreneur in her own right.
5. Jason Tan
Some entrepreneurs, however, give up a fruitful and lucrative career in order to make a name for themselves. Such was the case for businessman Jason Tan. A talented engineer, Tan had found success in the heart of a Seattle-based startup, which had recently been bought out by IAC, a hugely successful company. Despite being on the brink of a huge payout and financial security for years to come, Tan decided to turn it all in and follow his own entrepreneurial path.
Leaving his job at the top, Tan began to design a new fraud-detection machine which, if it worked, would revolutionize the world of fraud, plunging the industry into the digital age. Pitching to a number of business moguls for funding, Tan had to find a way in order to stand out from the crowd and get his plan noticed. How did he do it? By dropping the F-bomb, of course! While it might have seemed foolish at the time, Tan’s decision to swear in his speech clearly worked wonders for his bid; almost immediately, one of the co-founders of PayPal had contacted him about funding, essentially lighting the way towards the future.
In business, it seems like there is a set of rules that have to be followed in order to succeed. When you’re looking to make significant changes to an industry, however, it pays to think outside of the box and do something extraordinary. Incredible things don’t come out of comfort zones and by rattling their industries, these entrepreneurial rebels proved that, in order to make a good business, sometimes it pays off to be a little bad.
Are there any names that we left off the list? Let us know in the comments section..