Although some people have the advantage of being born into extremely wealthy families, most millionaires are self-made, rising from humble beginnings to create massive amounts of success – and wealth – for themselves. While today they may be known for their business ventures and vast holdings, all of these highly successful people began their careers with menial and not-so glamorous first jobs.
While not everyone who starts out working at a grocery store will make a million – or a billion – dollars, these successful individuals managed to work their way from the bottom to the top of their respective career fields, going on from their humble first jobs to become world famous titans of industry.
1. Richard Branson
Best known as the mega-successful businessman behind the Virgin group, not all of Richard Branson’s business ventures have always gone as planned. At age 11, he and a classmate tried their hand at breeding and selling small birds, only to find that the birds reproduced faster than they could sell them. His second childhood business had equally dismal results; after buying small fir trees to sell for the approaching Christmas holiday, his entire stock of trees were eaten by rabbits.
Not to worry – Sir Richard has gone on to bigger and better business ventures. Now knighted, he is worth a reported $4.6 billion.
2. Warren Buffet
Warren Buffet’s keen business eye was apparent even as a teenager. The founder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway got his own newspaper route at the tender age of 13, yet was still savvy enough to write off his bike as a business expense on his taxes that year. In the years to follow, Buffet would continue building his empire through various investments and business ventures, including buying property and starting a pinball machine business.
Now estimated to be worth as much as $60 billion, Warren Buffet is a prime example that good business sense starts early in life.
3. Bill Gates
An example that college dropouts can go on to do incredible things, Bill Gates famously left Harvard University to found his own technology company. What started as the less catchy Traf-o-Data became Microsoft on April 4th, 1975, and has been making Gates a very wealthy man ever since. Before he began founding his own technology companies, however, Gates did odd jobs – mostly technology or coding based – such as creating the class scheduling program for his high school. He also served for a short time as a congressional page.
Gates has once again reclaimed the title as the richest person in the world, worth an estimated $76 billion dollars.
4. Michael Bloomberg
While he is now best known for his political career and investments, Michael Bloomberg comes from a more humble background than his current net worth of almost $20 billion suggests. Born to middle class parents, Bloomberg paid his tuition at Harvard University by working his way through college, including his first job as a parking lot attendant.
After going on to get his MBA from Harvard, striking it big on Wall Street, and becoming one of New York City’s most recognizable political figures, Bloomberg is unlikely to be parking his own car – let alone anyone else’s – any time soon.
5. David Murdock
Another example of a mega-successful school dropout, David Murdock left high school after the ninth grade. With few other career prospects, he began working as a gas station attendant, pumping fuel for others. He served in the Army after being drafted in 1943, and later went into a career in real estate development.
His real estate investments led him to purchase the failing Hawaiian company Castle & Cook, parent company of the Dole fruit brand. Be rehabilitating the company, Murdock is now worth an estimated $2.5 billion.
6. Michael Dell
Although his last name is now known worldwide, Michael Dell had a less than glamorous first job. He began washing dishes at a local Chinese restaurant at the tender age of 12, mostly as a way to secure funds for his growing stamp collection. Despite his parent’s hope that he would go into medicine, Dell spent his high school and college career studying computers and technology.
By making personal, desktop computers available to nearly everyone, Dell rocketed his company – and his name – to success. Now worth upwards of $15 billion, it’s doubtful that he’s still looking for cash to fund his stamp collection.
7. Donald Trump
Despite being born into a wealthy family, Donald Trump’s father wanted to teach his children the value of working for their money. To do this, Trump and his brother would go to construction sites and other vacant lots to collect empty soda bottles to redeem for cash.
While recycling certainly didn’t make him into the television personality and real estate giant he is today, it did teach Trump the meaningful lesson of hard work and self-reliance. Currently making a salary of over $60 million a year, Trump is reportedly worth over $3 billion.