Top 10 Successful Celebrity Entrepreneurs

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The term celebrity conjures up many things: beauty, fame…turmoil. One thing that it doesn’t bring to mind is shrewd business person. But the number of celebrity CEOs would shock you. Not only do these stars run their own companies - they are very good at it. Here are 10 celebrity entrepreneurs that have extremely successful businesses.

10. Gwen Stefani

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Her fame and fortune rose from the band No Doubt, but with a successful solo career and multiple businesses, Gwen has managed to maintain (and increase) her net worth substantially. Worth an estimated $90 million, her clothing lie L.A.M.B is adored by celebrities and pulls in $100 million in sales per year! A spin-off of her successful clothing brand, Stefani also managed to branch off into fragrances, launching “L” which was highly regarded, judging from the eighteen million dollars in sales and Forbes’ calling it one of the best celebrity fragrances. Her Harajuku brand caters to a younger audience, including accessories and even dog clothes. Recently she has also produced a children’s program named Kuu Kuu Harajuku which follows a musical group composed of five girls and their misadventures.

9. Tyra Banks

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From the age of 17, Tyra became a global icon in the fashion industry as a top model. While the average retirement age for models is between 26-30 years, Tyra capitalised on her fame and experience to create one of the most successful television shows - America’s Next Top Model. With a net worth of $90 million, her business sense has enabled her to keep earning big well after the average retirement age. Not only is she involved in television, but she has also written multiple books, one of which Modelland was on the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.

8. Robert De Niro

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While his successes on screen are impressive, his business ventures off screen are equally notable. With the world famous sushi restaurant, The Tribeca Grill and Nobu - worth $250 million alone and his part ownership of the Ago restaurant (a regular celeb haunt) now in NYC, LA, Miami and Las Vegas, De Niro is no stranger to the food industry. His part ownership of TriBeCa Productions film studio also adds to his significant net worth of $185million. Recently Nobu has expanded to multiple locations, and De Niro has been awarded permission to build a luxury hotel in London adding to his hotel in Manhattan.

7. David Beckham

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As the highest paid footballer (circa 2011), David Beckham is one of the most successful and richest athletes today. But, his fortune is not entirely derived from the world of football. It comes from a number of lucrative endorsement deals including Samsung, Sainsburys, Breitling and Sky Sports. Beckham has also launched his own Bodywear line with world popular H&M (which is thought to become hugely successful), and he was named as an ambassador for the 2012 London Olympics. He also is a fair-weather brewer, teaming up with Diageo to create a whisky estimated at $20 million. Just to add further to his unspendable net worth of $350 he is thinking of purchasing a MLS team.

6. Beyonce Knowles

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Beyonce has a staggering net worth of $350 million. Her fortune began in music, but the famous singer soon branched out to star in several movies and started her own businesses. Endorsing Pepsi, Ford, American Express and Samsung, and with her other businesses including fashion line Dereon and personal fragrance line, her reported annual income is $40 million. Recently Beyonce has even expanded her fashion enterprise to include an online shop that sells the fiercest clothing, accessories and small objects on the market.


5. Paul Newman

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The late leading man not only created a distinct and easily recognisable brand, he also managed to create a posthumous legacy of charity. Newman’s Own food products started when Newman and his friend A.E. Hotchner created their own salad dressing which they gave to their friends. Eventually it became a company which sold various food products. The after tax profits of the company have been used for charity since its inceptions, making this celebrity entrepreneur also a celebrity philanthropist. Today 100% of the companies post-tax income is directed into Newman’s Own Foundation which in turn redistributes it into charitable causes including education, disease research and other pro-societal causes.

4. Jay – Z

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Well-known for his domination of the music industry, Jay-Z (Sean Carter) is worth $460 million. His fortune was amassed from selling 50 million albums throughout his career and owning his own record label “Roc-a-Fella records”. But he isn’t just a talented musician and performer he’s a multi-faceted mogul in his own right. His clothing line Rocawear (which sold for $204 million in 2007) was his first real step into entrepreneurship - making him a respected businessman in his own right. His other business holdings including Damon Dash, 40/40 club in New York City, and Iconix Brand have all helped build his fortune to what it is today. Recently working with Live Nation - a live music sales and management company - Jay-Z created Roc Nation, a company that does music publishing, touring and management.

3. Magic Johnson

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Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. - retired American professional basketball player, is worth an eye-watering $500 million. Magic Johnson is a successful entrepreneur and has partnerships in well-known companies including Starbucks, T.G.I Fridays, 24 Hour Fitness and AMC Theaters. Johnson also boasts an impressive real estate portfolio and is an avid supporter of HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns (to which he has given $1.1 million). A noteworthy reason for Johnson’s success was that he concentrated on urban and underprivileged areas, even collaborating with CEO Howard Schultz to bring Starbucks to these areas to great success. The company eventually turned around and bought out Johnson’s share in the urban stores for a nice chunk of money.

2. P Diddy (Sean Combs)

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P Diddy or Sean Combs is well known all over the world for his chart-topping rap music and collaborations with the music industry’s most talented singers. What many do not know, is that he is a powerful businessman too! With his own record label (Bad Boy Records), Sean Jean clothing, and fragrance line Combs has a net worth of $550 million. And since music and alcohol consumption go hand in hand, he collaborated with Diageo (the same company that works with David Beckham to produce his own signature whisky) to promote and sell Ciroc Vodka. When the collaboration first started the vodka’s sales were sluggish, but since Combs took over it became the second best-selling high-end vodka in the U.S. He’s also produced multiple television movies and shows, which cover the spectrum between documentary and reality TV.

1. Oprah Winfrey

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Topping the list is the infamous Oprah Winfrey. Her staggering net worth of $2.7 billion places her miles ahead of other celebrities-turned-entrepreneurs. While she made her fame and fortune from the hit Oprah Winfrey show, she now manages her own network. Winfrey is completely self-made, coming from an impoverished childhood she became known as the most influential woman in the world.

Her media empire started when she was hired as a news co-anchor at 19. Eventually, she created her own production company, including traditional television programs, movies, publications and websites. Since she retired from talk show television, she remains in the public eye. Oprah is so influential there is a consumer effect named after her, “the Oprah Effect” - when she endorses a product, and its sales increase exponentially. She also continues her selfless philanthropic work.

You can say what you will about these celebrities, but the truth is that it takes a significant amount of intellect, intuition and business acumen to achieve what they have. There are many public figures that attempted to enter the world of business, but never managed to create a foothold, some even had the experience and education to do so. So maybe instead of scoffing and assuming that these celebrities used their fame to make money, take a deeper look at the factors that made these people successful both in their fields and outside them.

Did we miss any celebrities out? Let us know in the comments section below…