Building a business is not for the faint of heart. Entrepreneurship requires courage, ingenuity, and hard work. Taking a look at Forbes list of billionaires for 2016 shows you that being an entrepreneur can pay off big time. The list is filled with individuals who struck out on their own and made billions in the process. With their proven success, entrepreneurs offer a lot of reasons to emulate them.

Simply having a lot of financial success is not a good reason to emulate them. Someone building a great company, with loyal employees and customers alike- that is a good reason to emulate them. Someone who has tried and failed, but kept trying- another good reason to emulate them. Businesses truly succeed when they provide value to everyone involved. You should aim to solve a problem for your customers and to build a community for your workers.

With that in mind here are three entrepreneurs who have built incredible companies, and three you should avoid becoming.

Entrepreneurs to Emulate

Starbucks founders Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, Gordon Bowker

Starbucks is synonymous with great corporate culture (and those holiday cups). Last year Starbucks was ranked as the fifth best company in the entire world. The company has made a point of treating employees well, offering benefits to those who work 20 hours a week and competitive hourly pay. It sells ethically sourced coffee beans in their stores. They have strived to put the best product and practices into their brand and it shows.

SPANX Founder, Sarah Blakely 

It’s not easy to build a globally competitive company. When you fall, you have to get back up. That’s the trait that takes you to the next level. Blakely failed the LSAT’s twice and initially wanted to be a stand-up comedian. When those things didn’t pan out and the idea for Spanx hit, she also faced a lot of rejection just trying to get the prototype made. Don’t give up on yourself, even if your dreams change direction.

Tory Burch founder, Tory Burch

Tory Burch paid here dues in the fashion world and has built herself an empire. Her full-time employees give the company great reviews for the benefits she offers them. Burch launched her line with a brick-and-mortar store in 2004, a risky move she was advised against. With her own store, she was able to control everything from the get go, with no barriers between her and her customers. Treat people well and follow your gut. You just might build an empire.

Entrepreneurs to Avoid Becoming

Theranos founder, Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes went from a $4.5 billion net worth at the head of a company that promised scientific revolution, to $0 and disgrace. Holmes claimed to have blood test equipment to change the world but failed to deliver time and time again. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver- make sure your product works.

Uber founders, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp

Uber is the start-up that launched a million start-ups, but it’s also the one that is plagued by legal and image problems. Called unsafe, sexist, and accused of trying to sabotage competitor Lyft, Uber has a more than tarnished image. It’s also ensnared in legal problems with countries around the world, from Britain to France to China to the US. Don’t treat the world like it owes you something. Instead, offer value to customers, and customer support for any issues that pop up.

Tindr founder, Sean Rad

Sued by fellow co-founder Whitney Wolfe for sexual harassment and pushed out of his job as CEO, Sean Rad has walked a more than bumpy road as one of Tindr’s founders. It’s crucial to treat people with respect, most especially your own employees. Handle your business in a professional manner


Kara Perez is the founder of Bravely, a company that connects women and money. She freelances in the areas of personal finance and travel, and she eats peanut butter straight out of the jar.

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