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11 of the Greatest Business People of All Time

We all aspire to do great things in business, but what does it take to be one of the best?

If that’s a question on your mind lately, today’s article is perfect for you.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at 11 of the most successful entrepreneurs to have walked the earth.

Prepare to be inspired!

1. Steve Jobs

Without Steve Jobs, you wouldn’t be reading this article on your iMac or your iPhone, or maybe even your iPad.

Jobs founded Apple in the late 1970s with co-founder Steve Wozniak. The company, which they started in their garage, came to be because Jobs didn’t like the computers on the market at the time.

He decided to create a better one, the Apple I. Today, even with Jobs’ passing, Apple is a household name.

Steve jobs

2. Sakichi Toyoda

Although Sakichi Toyoda might not have the instant name recognition as some of the business people we’ll showcase here, he’s been called one of the greatest inventors Japan has ever seen.

Back in the 1920s, Toyoda founded the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, which was an engineering facility.

That’s how he became known as “the father of the Japanese industrial revolution.”

Besides later founding Toyota Industries Co., Ltd., he also came up with the five whys, a business methodology that’s still in use today.

Sakichi Toyoda

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3. Bill Gates

Together with his old childhood pal, Paul Allen, business magnate Bill Gates created Microsoft in the mid-1970s. That was around the same time that Apple would come into existence.

Gates was smart enough to capture the attention of the Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) with his proposed creation.

His presentations were so convincing that Gates began producing a software emulator for MITS soon after.

He’s always had the business skills to propel himself, which is why it’s no surprise that Microsoft is as hugely successful as it is today!

Bill Gates

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4. Walt Disney

Walt Disney is one of those business people who needs absolutely no introduction.

Even more than half a century after his death, the Disney line of films continues thriving.

Disney has its own ultra-popular streaming service, and more importantly, theme parks around the world.

Although Walt Disney didn’t get to realize many of those dreams personally, his entrepreneurial spirit continues in every new Disney innovation with his name on it.

Walt Disney

5. Andrew Carnegie

Why do we still remember Andrew Carnegie?

That’s simple! He was a smart industrialist, leading the steel industry in America to new heights at the tail-end of the 19th century.

His fortunes are talked about with starry-eyed enthusiasm even now, as he became one of the richest people of his age.

Carnegie was also a philanthropist, and he shared both wealth and knowledge.

He also wasn’t against taxing the rich, and his ideas even led others with wealth to become philanthropic, too.

Read also: 12 Entrepreneur Personality Traits We Should All Aim For

Andrew Carnegie

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6. Sam Walton

We can’t discuss the greatest business leaders of all time without tipping our hat to Sam Walton.

If his name isn’t familiar, Walton is the founder of Walmart as well as Sam’s Club.

Today, Wal-Mart stores, which are led by the Walton family, continue to be one of the biggest and most dominant retailers on the planet.

Sam Walton

7. Estee Lauder

We haven’t looked at any businesswomen yet, so let’s change that.

Estee Lauder, born Josephine Ester Mentzer, was a businesswoman in the 20th century who started the cosmetics brand Estee Lauder with the help of her husband Joseph.

Before rising to monumental heights, Lauder produced creams that she would sell to her friends and try to get retailed in resorts and beauty shops.

When Lauder finally landed the right client, she expanded into fragrances.

She also proudly proclaimed that “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.”

What inspirational words indeed!

👉Get inspired by our collection of insightful customer relationship management quotes – explore our collection now! 💡

Estee Lauder

8. Charles Merrill

Today, Merrill Lynch has become a household name, but it wasn’t always that way.

Charles Edward Merrill, a stockbroker, and philanthropist started the company with Edmund C. Lynch in 1915.

Merrill was quite good at investments, as he had personally invested and saved a lot of money doing it. He was also able to predict the 1929 stock market crash before it happened.

Before the Great Depression hit, he divested his holdings. He was always one step ahead, and it shows.

Charles Merril

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9. P. T. Barnum

Phineas Taylor Barnum, better known as P.T. Barnum, maybe didn’t sell anything as luxurious as cartoons, investments, or perfume, but he’s still beloved for his business acumen.

He’s the creator of the Barnum & Bailey Circus along with James Anthony Bailey. Barnum is also a philanthropist, publisher, and author even if he is less known for these accolades.

Barnum started his working life owning a small business when he was in his 20s and then created his own newspaper before getting involved in entertainment.

He would show off various oddities at a museum he had bought. That museum later had the first aquarium in the United States as well as wax figures, a museum display that is still popular to this very day.

P.T. Barnum

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10. Thomas Edison

Although Thomas Edison may be more celebrated for his inventions, we shouldn’t forget that he was a businessman as well.

He went from working as a telegraph operator to a New Jersey laboratory facility; both locations fueled a lot of his creations.

He then moved to Florida and had a botanical laboratory that was put together with other influential business leaders like Harvey S. Firestone and Henry Ford.

Edison is even credited with the first film studio in the world, which he had built in West Orange, New Jersey.

Thomas Edison

11. John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller is a man who’s celebrated today for his riches, but to focus on that alone lessens his other accomplishments.

Rockefeller entered the workforce at only 16 years old as an assistant bookkeeper before striking business deals into his 20s and eventually getting involved in the oil refinery business.

He created his own business called the Standard Oil Company.

As both gasoline and kerosene became huge commodities, Rockefeller grew rich. At one point, he had control over 90 percent of the US oil supply, which is an insane accomplishment.

John Rockefeller

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These great business people prove that even in the face of adversity, perseverance is the key.

They also showed the world that there’s a market for nearly anything, even if you have to create it yourself!

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