Who are your business idols? The people who inspire you to get up every day and create interesting, new products and services for your customers? The people who paved the way for your business?
I don’t know who your rockstars are, but I want to share 10 of mine with you today. These are 10 American entrepreneurs who completely changed their respective industries. Some of them are quite famous, while others have fallen into obscurity.
I am so excited to share this list with you so that you can get inspired by these great men and women. I will also be including some of the great lessons that we can learn from these entrepreneurs about business and life.
Elizabeth Arden, born Florence Nightingale Graham, was a trailblazer and a true visionary in the world of business. As one of the first great American entrepreneurs, she established herself as a leader and innovator in the cosmetics industry during a time when it was highly uncommon for women to run successful businesses.
Arden’s first venture, the Red Door Salon, was a beauty parlor and cosmetics shop in New York City. It was here that she taught women the art of makeup application and introduced them to her own line of cosmetics and skincare products. In 1910, just a few years after opening the Red Door Salon, she expanded her business by opening a beauty retreat in Maine, which was the first of its kind in the world. This marked the beginning of her rise to fame and fortune, as her business rapidly grew to include 150 salons across the United States and Europe.
Elizabeth Arden’s impact on the cosmetics industry is undeniable. She popularized everyday makeup for women and effectively created a brand new industry in the process. She was one of the wealthiest women in the world at the height of her success, and her name is still synonymous with quality and luxury in the world of beauty.
Elizabeth Arden was a trailblazer, with the foresight to identify a market gap and the determination to fulfill it. She was a true pioneer, motivating numerous women to chase their entrepreneurial aspirations and creating a path for future women in business. Her impact endures, serving as a source of motivation for entrepreneurs all over the world.
Arianna Huffington is a highly influential and accomplished individual who has made her mark in the political and journalistic arena. Born Ariadnē-Anna Stasinopoúlou, she co-founded the Huffington Post with her husband, a media empire that has been widely recognized for its impact and influence. She has been listed in TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people multiple times, a testament to her political and journalistic work.
Arianna’s career took a dramatic turn in the late 1990s, when she began to lean towards more liberal views in her writing and commentary. She served as the president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, where she made her mark as a fearless and articulate commentator. However, in 2014, she stepped down from her role at the Huffington Post to pursue a new venture – Thrive Global, a wellness and mindfulness company that she founded with the aim of promoting healthier work-life balance for individuals and organizations.
Thrive Global has since grown into a successful and thriving enterprise, offering a range of products and services designed to promote mindfulness and well-being. Arianna’s passion for wellness and her commitment to creating a healthier world have earned her recognition and praise from a wide range of audiences. With her tireless efforts, she continues to be a major player in the political and media spheres, inspiring others to follow her lead and work towards creating a better world for all.
Michael Jordan, born in 1963, is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He is also a highly successful entrepreneur, who has leveraged his fame and reputation to build a business empire that spans several industries. With his dynamic personality and a winning mindset, Jordan has become an inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere.
Jordan’s career as a basketball player was nothing short of extraordinary. He won six NBA championships and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player five times. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, solidifying his status as one of the greatest players of all time.
However, Jordan’s impact extends far beyond the court. He was a pioneer in the world of athlete endorsements, lending his name and image to a wide range of products. He was one of the first athletes to bring his own line of sneakers to the market, the iconic “Air Jordans” by Nike, which remains one of the most successful sneakers in history.
With his success on the court and in the world of endorsements, Jordan was able to transition smoothly into the business world. He became a part-owner of the Miami Marlins, a professional baseball team, and owns a golf course, a steakhouse, and a dealership that bears his name. Throughout his career, Jordan has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence, which has enabled him to succeed even in times of economic downturn.
Michael Jordan is an inspiration to all entrepreneurs. He has achieved unparalleled success in both his athletic and business endeavors, proving that with hard work, determination, and vision anything is possible. His story is a reminder of the power of perseverance, and encourages us to never give up on our dreams.
George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver, born in 1864, was a prominent scientist, inventor, and agriculturist who is best known for his work on improving the sustainability of southern agriculture. He was born into slavery and overcame many obstacles to become one of the most influential figures in American agriculture during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Carver was a professor at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he devoted his life to teaching farmers about sustainable agriculture practices. He believed that farmers could improve soil quality and prevent soil depletion by rotating crops and planting nitrogen-fixing crops. His ideas were groundbreaking and have had a lasting impact on agriculture in the southern United States.
In addition to his work in agriculture, Carver was also known for his work in developing new uses for peanuts and other crops. He was awarded numerous patents for his innovations and is credited with popularizing peanuts as a food in the United States. He developed a series of recipes that showed people how to cook with peanuts and other crops, which helped to increase the popularity of these foods.
Carver’s legacy extends beyond his work in agriculture and food. He was an inspirational figure who, despite facing numerous challenges and obstacles in his life, including racism and poverty, was able to achieve great success and make a lasting impact on the world. He was an advocate for education and was passionate about helping others, especially farmers, to improve their lives.
George Washington Carver was a truly remarkable person who made a lasting impact on American agriculture and the world at large. He will always be remembered as an innovator, teacher, and humanitarian whose work has inspired countless others to strive for excellence and make a positive difference in the world.
Joyce Chen was a trailblazer in the food industry and a true pioneer in bringing northern-style Chinese cuisine to the United States. Born in the early 20th century, she saw a gap in the market for the unfamiliar and exotic flavors of northern-style Chinese food and seized the opportunity to introduce it to American audiences.
With her passion for cooking and her entrepreneurial spirit, Joyce Chen started a television show to showcase the flavors and cooking techniques of northern-style Chinese food. She also opened restaurants and wrote books to further educate Americans on the cuisine and to provide them with a taste of it.
In addition to her contributions to the culinary world, Joyce Chen was also a businesswoman with a keen eye for innovation. She was the first person to bottle Chinese stir-fry sauce and sell it on the US market and also introduced flat-bottomed wok pans to the American market, making it easier for home cooks to recreate the dishes she showcased on her television show and in her restaurants. With her contributions, Joyce Chen helped to popularize Chinese cuisine in the United States and paved the way for future generations of entrepreneurs in the food industry.
Elon Musk is a visionary entrepreneur who has made an indelible mark on several industries. Born in South Africa in 1971, Musk has always been interested in engineering and technology. Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks in his early life, including an abusive father and limited financial resources, Musk has persevered and went on to become one of the most successful and innovative entrepreneurs of our time.
His first successful venture was the online bank X.com, which eventually merged with Confinity to form PayPal. This success fueled Musk’s ambitions, leading him to found SpaceX, with the goal of reducing the cost of space exploration and enabling the colonization of Mars. In addition to SpaceX, Musk is also the CEO and primary shareholder of Tesla, a company that has revolutionized the automotive industry by producing electric cars that are affordable, stylish, and high-performing.
Musk has continued to push the boundaries of science and technology through his investments in companies like Tesla Energy and Neuralink. He is known for his ambitious goals, including the creation of a sustainable energy grid and the development of brain-computer interfaces that could enhance human capabilities. Despite his many successes, Musk remains focused on his passion for engineering and innovation, making him one of the most important figures in the world of entrepreneurship today.
Margaret Rudkin was a woman ahead of her time, born in New York at the close of the 19th century. She excelled academically, graduating valedictorian of her high school, and had an early love for baking. This love for baking became the driving force behind her creation of Pepperidge Farm.
As a mother, Margaret was concerned about the health of her son who was having adverse reactions to the preservatives in bread. In response, she set out to create healthier options and founded Pepperidge Farm. With her focus on high-quality ingredients and dedication to baking, the company quickly grew and became a household name.
Margaret was known for her business acumen and innovative spirit. She was one of the first to recognize the importance of packaging and presentation in marketing her products. She was also one of the pioneers in the use of radio advertising, a strategy that helped Pepperidge Farm gain even greater recognition.
Margaret’s hard work and determination paid off, as Pepperidge Farm became one of the most successful bakeries of its time. Her innovations in the industry and her commitment to providing healthier options for consumers eventually led to the sale of Pepperidge Farm to the Campbell Soup Company in 1961. Margaret’s legacy continues to impact the food industry today, inspiring others to strive for excellence and to always put the needs of the customer first.
Rihanna, also known as Robyn Rihanna Fenty, is a multi-talented and influential figure in the entertainment industry. Born and raised in Barbados, Rihanna rose to fame as an R&B singer in the early 2000s and has since established herself as a successful entrepreneur, fashion icon, and philanthropist.
Beyond her music career, Rihanna is known for her entrepreneurial spirit. In 2005, she founded her own record label, Roc Nation, which has helped launch the careers of many talented musicians. She also became a part-owner of Tidal, a music streaming platform, and has leveraged her brand power to further expand her business ventures.
In 2019, Rihanna took the fashion industry by storm when she launched Fenty, a clothing and lifestyle brand that is inspired by her unique sense of style and creativity. Fenty has since grown into a huge empire, with a lingerie line, a makeup line, and a series of smaller offshoot brands. The brand has become known for its inclusive approach to fashion and beauty, catering to a wide range of skin tones and body types.
Rhianna has also used her platform to give back to the community, through her charity work and philanthropic efforts. Through her Clara Lionel Foundation, she has supported education, health, and emergency response initiatives, both in Barbados and around the world. Overall, Rhianna is a true example of an individual who has used her talents and resources to make a positive impact in the world.
Oprah Winfrey is often cited as the epitome of the “American Dream.” Born into poverty in Mississippi, she rose from humble beginnings to build a media empire. She began her television career as a local news anchor at 19 and quickly gained popularity for her honest delivery.
Winfrey’s entrepreneurial spirit became evident when she created her own production company, Harpo Productions, which produced her hugely popular daytime talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. This show turned into a brand that spanned beyond television, including a magazine and a book club, which has become one of the most influential book clubs in the world.
Winfrey’s business acumen has also been demonstrated in her investments. She was an early investor in the Weight Watchers program, and her partnership with the company helped it return to profitability. She has also invested in a number of other businesses, including a tea company and a health food chain.
Not only is Oprah Winfrey a successful businesswoman, but she has also used her platform to promote various causes that she believes in. She has been politically active throughout her career and has created campaigns to inspire voting and support various social causes.
Madam C. J. Walker
Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, rose from poverty to become the first self-made female millionaire in the US. She was born to former slaves and worked as a washerwoman, but she never let her circumstances hold her back. Despite facing numerous obstacles and challenges in her life, she persevered and worked tirelessly to build a successful hair care and soap business.
Madam Walker’s business was groundbreaking in that it was the first American business to cater exclusively to African American women. Recognizing a need in the market, she created a line of hair care products specifically designed to address the unique needs of African American hair. She also employed many young African American women, offering them a rare opportunity for financial independence and career development in a time when segregation and racism limited their options.
Madam Walker’s entrepreneurial journey is a testament to the power of hard work, determination, and innovative thinking. She saw a gap in the market and filled it with her high-quality hair care products, and her business flourished as a result. Her life and legacy serve as an inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere, reminding us that success is achievable for anyone who is willing to put in the time, effort, and creativity required to succeed.