10 Insanely Motivational Business Stories

The internet has created many millionaires and successful people, though sometimes in this realm of success all around us, we get lost. We lose our motivation and inspiration to push through our obstacles and come out on top. All we need is a little nudge to get through the tunnel to the other side. The best source of inspiration is other people, learning what they had to overcome and where they came from can be a great way re-ignite that. Here’s a list of 10 insanely motivational business stories and quotes:

motivational business stories

1. Aristotle Onassis

Shipping Magnate
Born: 20 January 1906
KarataƟ, Smyrna, Ottoman Empire
Died: 15 March 1975 (aged 69) Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Net Worth: $1 Billion

How did he build his empire?
Aristotle started as a terrible child in school, and nobody thought he would ever amount to anything. He caught a bit of a break when he got a job as a telephone operator where he took the opportunity to listen to awe-inspiring business calls between CEOs. Aristotle would then go home after work and study the conversations, applying the learnings to his life.

This opportunity would propel him, and with the knowledge he acquired, and he was able to start his own Tobacco company. From there, he went on to expand to what according to him were more profitable business verticals such as Oil, Whaling, and Airways.

What did he overcome?
Aristotle overcame poverty, being the dropout student in school and from a very chaotic household. He made great use of his resources to come out on top.

Lessons Learned?
Even silly jobs that seemingly go nowhere can be used as a means to catapult your success, and you can learn from anything and anyone. You have to be creative with how you do it.

Motivational Business Quote of Aristotle:

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

2. Andrew Carnegie

Born: 25 November 1835
Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
Died: 11 August 1919 (aged 83)
Lenox, Massachusetts, United States
Net Worth: $373 Billion (in 2014 U.S. Dollars)

How did he build his empire?
Andrew started from very humble beginnings, his father was penniless, and his mom was also poor. The family decided in 1848 to move to Allegheny, Pennsylvania, looking for a better life. Andrew’s first job in 1884 was spooling thread in a cotton mill for 12 hours a day. He quickly got a raise and moved to manage the boilers for more pay but much more work.

Andrew subsequently got into railways and worked hard to become the superintendent of the Western Division of the Pacific Rail Road. In this role, Andrew learned about Investments and how to manage a company and control cost. From there Andrew became involved with Oil and famously steel production. Steel production was where he made almost all of his fortune.

He created the United States Steel Corporation, which became the first corporation in the world to have a market capitalization of over 1 Billion Dollars. Andrew’s story is one of the most motivational business story in the world and he inspired millions with his famous books.

What did he overcome?
Andrew quickly learned that hard-work could allow you to do anything that you want. He overcame extreme poverty by pure work ethic, which was a theme that continues throughout his life.

Lessons Learned?
When you work hard, opportunities open for you. Hard work doesn’t care where you come from or your background.

Motivational Business Quote of Andrew Carnegie:

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

3. Martha Stewart 

Executive Businesswoman
Born: 3 August, 1941 (age 76) 
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S. 
Net Worth: $638 Million

How did she build her empire? 
Martha started as an occasional babysitter for the players of the New York Yankees when she was 10. At the age of 15, she began modeling, and by the time she was in college, she was earning $50/hour as a model which was a lot back then. She did some modeling for Chanel at that time. Her mother and father were very passionate about work around the home. Her mom taught her how to cook and sew, and her father taught her how to garden. 

After college, she grabbed a career as a stockbroker and bought an 1805 Farmhouse with her husband, Andrew Stewart. This Farmhouse later became the backdrop for her Martha Stewart Living Series. When she wasn’t working, she started to get into a catering business with long-time friend Norma Collier.

The venture became successful, and her husband became the president of the publisher Harry N Abrahams, INC. He had Stewarts Catering Company cater for the book release party of The Secret Book Of Gnomes. It was here that Martha met Alan Mirken who quickly took an interest in her skills at cooking and catering.

She developed a cookbook with him which gained a lot of success and snowballed to more books, a magazine (Martha Stewart Living) and a T.V. show based on the magazines. 

What did she overcome? 
Martha’s success came to her, things fell into place, and she leveraged her ability to cook to appeal to a massive audience. She followed what she was good at and found success. 

Lessons Learned?
Follow what you are naturally good at, put in the work, and things will fall into place.

Motivational Business Quote of Martha Stewart:

“Without an open-minded mind, you can never be a great success.”

4. Warren Buffet

Business Magnate
Born: 30 August 1930 (age 87) Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. 
Net Worth: 87.5 Billion 

How did he build his empire? 
Warren built his empire through stocks and investments, starting at a young age he bought his first stock which was Citi Bank. He made 5 dollars on this stock, which he purchased for 38.25 dollars and sold for around 40 dollars. After he sold it, it skyrocketed up to 200 dollars. 

That is where he learned a big lesson in the stock game, and that was patience. Sit on the stock and hold them, sell when you absolutely must. He discovered this at the tender age of 11. Then when he was 14, he purchased 40-acre farmland. Which he admits he hated and that he much preferred stocks to the farm.

Soon after, he sold the land and learned his most valuable lesson in his early years, which was figuring out what he enjoyed and what he disliked.  And for the most part, Warren Buffet stuck with stock trading and investing ever since. Before he dived into stocks, he tried to get into Harvard but was declined entry. It was at this moment that he knew that his future was in stocks and that he wasn’t going to let the lack of a Harvard education stop him.

When he was 25, he took 100 dollars he had saved and combined it with contributions from a friend to start his first limited partnership with seven people. Within this partnership, Buffet did the unthinkable – turn $105,000 into $26 Million over nine years, which is a 24,000 percent increase. He did this by investing in farm equipment, windmills, and textile manufacturers.

Thirteen years later, Buffet convinced his long-time friend Charlie Munger to quit his investment partnership and to join him. This duo now controls the best performing holding company ever.

What did he overcome? 
Warren Buffet was born with business in his blood. He nurtured and exploited his entrepreneurship early in childhood when others were running around and being kids. Buffet didn’t come from a wealthy background either.

He wanted to get into Harvard but was refused admittance. That didn’t stop him from becoming one of the wealthiest people alive. He had to accept that his future wasn’t in Harvard but stocks. 

Lessons Learned? 
Everything happens for a reason, and you may not get what you want.
If you let the rejection get to you and allow yourself to seethe with anger; you will never get what you want at all. Buffet took the rejection at Harvard and turned it into a net-worth of 87.4 Billion. Now he can buy education from Harvard and likely the institute itself. His story is one of the most inspiring stories ever to exist.

Motivational Business Quote of Warren Buffet:

If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work till you die.

5. Howard Hughes 

Born: 24 December 1905
Humble, Texas, U.S. 
Death: April 5, 1976 (aged 70) en route to Houston, Texas, U.S. 
Net Worth: 1.5 Billion 

How did he build his empire? 
Howard started with origins that are unfamiliar with most on this list; both of his parents were entrepreneurs and mightily successful ones to boot. His father invented the dual cone roller bit, which is a rotary oil device that made his family a small fortune. When both of his parents died relatively close to each other, Hughes became the inheritor of father’s money, which turned out to be 1 Million dollars. 

His business career started when he dropped out of Rice University and moved to Los Angeles, where he sold his dad’s company; The Hughes Tool Company. Subsequently, he formed his corporation, which was primarily involved in aerospace and defense, electronics, mass media, manufacturing, and hospitality industries. But has other interests and a presence in a wide variety of industries such as real estate, petroleum drilling, and oil field service, consulting, entertainment and engineering. 

His first two films, Everybody’s Acting (1927) and Two Arabian Knights (1928) did well in the box office. Hughes spent 3.8 Million to make Hell’s Angels (1930), and it earned him close to 8 Million. Double the production and advertising costs.

After this success, Hughes bought RKO, which was a struggling Hollywood studio. Hughes dismissed nearly three-quarters of the staff and production was shut down for six months while investigators investigated each employee to find out their political leanings. If he felt his stars weren’t leaning politically the way he wanted them to and the way, he pulled the plug. 

By the end of 1954, after being involved in a high-profile lawsuit, Hughes had near full control of the studio. That was the first time someone had complete control of a Hollywood situation in nearly three decades. Hughes sold the company six months later but ended up keeping the rights to the films he had personally produced and walked away from RKO with a profit of 6 million

His next venture was Real Estate, where he had vast holdings of land in Las Vegas and the surrounding Desert. Hughes, using his power, bought out many of the hotel chains in Vegas, particularly the ones involved with crime.

This expanded his empire, and later Hughes became a crucial figure in changing Las Vegas from it’s wild-west roots to a more civilized and refined city.

Hughes then turned his attention to aviation, one of his passions. He broke landplane airspeed records with the H-1 aircraft. He set the record by clocking in at 352 mph (566 kph) over a test course in California. That was the last time a private individual would set an airspeed record. 

After setting this record, Hughes continued his interest in aviation by building more planes and flying around the world. Ultimately he started building a military aircraft called the Spruce Goose which was still in development when the war ended. Which meant there was no point in the plane anymore, it flew once and landed, then stored in a climate-controlled hangar until his death in 1976. 

What did he overcome? 
Hughes overcame a sea of controversy surrounding his name, which of course he helped generate with his fast, playboy lifestyle. Both of his parents died, and he turned their small fortune into a vast net worth across many industries and interests. 

Lessons Learned? 
Diversify. Hughes never stayed in something too long for it to become stale and unprofitable. He was always looking for the next thing and what else he could take over and turn a profit. He was also extremely good with numbers, which helped him overcome situations where others saw red numbers.

Motivational Business Quote of Howard Hughes:

Passion will make you crazy, but is there any other way to live?

6. Jan Koum 

Born: February 24, 1976 (age 42 years)
Kiev, Ukraine 
Net Worth: 9.1 Billion 

How did he build his empire? 
Two words. What’s up? Or maybe better known as WhatsApp. Which is a messenger app that connects phone users from across the world together, you can text free and even do voice calls and send pictures. All you need is a WiFi connection.

Jan started off working at Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer, but after nine years of working for the company, he left. He took a year off of work at this time and traveled around the world, playing ultimate Frisbee.

In this time, he bought an iPhone, and this was when he realized that the new phone would spawn a whole wave of apps and that if he could get on this wave, he might do well for himself. He met with his friend Alex Fisherman, and the two talked for two hours over tea on Alex’s counter.

That was when WhatsApp was born; almost immediately, Jan knew what to call the app. He liked the name “WhatsApp” because it sounded like What’s Up, which plays perfectly into what the app would be designed to do. In a short amount of time, the app got quite popular, and Facebook started to take notice of the app. 

Mark Zuckerberg contacted Jan in 2012, and over two years, a deal was set where FaceBook would acquire WhatsApp for 19 Billion. 

What did he overcome?
Jan’s success didn’t come until later in his life. He had to work a regular 9-5 job for a quite some time before he had his big achievement.

Lessons Learned? 
You only have to hit one home run in your life to be set for life. All it took for Jan was one home run, and now he’s worth more than many people on this list. 

Motivational Business Quote of Jan Koum:

I want to do one thing and do it well.

7. Dr. Dre 

Born: February 18, 1965 (age 53)
Compton, California, U.S. 
Net Worth: 830 Million 

How did he build his empire? 
Dr. Dre did what most people in the music industry failed to do. He was still successful after their time on records had come to an end. Dre did have a rap career when he was younger, rapping for N.W.A and even earlier before that rapping at a club called Eve After Dark.

His rap career didn’t last very long because he soon found out that his real skill lied in making beats, for rap songs. 

That was his true talent, and the first real glimpse of it was with Tupac’s California Love which went on to be a hit record. After that, he formed his record label; Aftermath Entertainment and produced beats for Eminem and other artists as well. The middle 2000s were a tough time for the music industry as people were pirating a lot of music, which meant little money was coming in from CD sales.

Dre wanted a solution to deal with this piracy dilemma. It came to him he had when he saw kids listening to his music through cheap, low-quality Apple headphones. He thought to himself; “Man, I spent months in the studio perfecting that song and these kids go and ruin all of that hard work by listening to my stuff through low-quality headphones.” 

He didn’t like that people were stealing his stuff. But what he hated the most was that they were ruining the music by listening to it on low-quality headphones. Something had to be done, and Dre’s original idea was to sell speakers, but this later changed to headphones. 

The idea was to make headphones designed for the hip-hop and rap audience. Dre used his influence in the music industry and his record label to get the headphones into the hands of everyone big in music at the time. Artists like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Will.I.Am and even athletes like LeBron James.

The headphones flew off the shelves, and soon every teen and youth in North America were donning a pair. What Dre did was pretty incredible, he leveraged both his reputation and power to market his product for virtually no cost. 

The beats product brand continued to achieve success until it was sold to Apple in 2014 for $3 Billion. 

What did he overcome? 
Dr. Dre had to overcome living in Compton at a time when gang violence was extremely high, and you’d hear gunshots at night. He also had to overcome being a “has been” in the music industry and somehow turn the unsuccessful business of selling music into a new business opportunity.

Many artists burn out and fade away, and while Dre did artistically, business-wise he’s as sharp as ever. 

Lessons Learned? 
Don’t let yourself fade away; let your successes build on top of one another to create momentum. Sitting on success is just as bad as not having any because, at any moment, the business environment can shift, and profits may dwindle.

Motivational Business Quote of Dr. Dre:

You just have to find that thing that’s special about you that distinguishes you from all the others, and through true talent, hard work, and passion, anything can happen.

8. John D Rockefeller

Born: 8 July 1839 
Richford, New York, U.S. 
Died: 23 May 1937 (aged 97) 
The Casements, Ormond Beach, Florida, U.S. 
Net Worth: 500 Billion (Adjusted for 2018) 

How did he build his empire? 
When you hear the name Rockefeller you immediately think Oil, and that’s true, but some small successes led up to the big success in the oil business. 

From a young age, John was interested in business and unafraid of hard work. He embarked on some business ventures when he was just 14 years old and continued till 20 when he built a company of his own.

In the first year, the business had grossed 45,000 thousand dollars. Not bad for the first time. Rockefeller was a prudent and diligent businessman, afraid of taking risks that could end him. He thought there was an opportunity in the oil business because oil production was on a steady increase.

In 1863, he opened his first refinery, and within two years it was the biggest in the area.  He continued with Oil and decided to expand his business. His company Standard Oil was immediately profitable. He was taking advantage of the surging oil business.

Within two years, Standard Oil had controlled the majority of refineries in Cleveland. That made Rockefeller consider starting to get into Oil himself, building Standard Oil pipelines and drilling it themselves. Standard Oil had such a stronghold on the oil market that there was practically nothing other competitors could do. 

Standard Oil controlled everything and was the First American Monopoly. 

What did he overcome? 
Rockefeller has a similar background to Warren Buffet who started a business at a very young age and was born for business. 

Lessons Learned?
When you smell an opportunity, jump in and go for it
However, be sure to take calculated risks, and once the venture is successful, scale it to the maximum and build a monopoly.

Motivational Business Quote of John D. Rockefeller:

Competition is a sin

9. Walt Disney 

Born: 5 December 1901
Hermosa, Chicago, Illinois, United States 
Died: 15 December 1966; Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Burbank, California, United States.
Net Worth: 5 Billion

How did he build his empire?
Every child has seen his movies, from Bambi to Dumbo to the Lion King. When we think of Walt Disney, we instantly think of the Disney company, but there’s more to Disney than meets the eye.

Behind the beautifully animated cartoons and movies was a man of not only an incredible vision but a man who knew how to make his vision a reality. Walt started as an animator for a cartoon company when he was a young adult. After spending some time in that company, he and his brother Roy joined together to form The Walt Disney Company

Even in the beginning, Walt Disney was incredibly innovative and forward-thinking. His first breakthrough idea for cartoons was to have a live girl as part of the short. That gave Alice’s Wonderland – which did exceptionally well and earned Disney a moderate profit. 

Continuing with this theme, Disney made more Alice’s Wonderland shorts, but eventually, the efforts grew unnoticed. Other companies were starting to take over the animating industry with characters such as Oswald the Rabbit, who was a charismatic rabbit created by a competitor. Disney needed an answer to Oswald. That answer was Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse was a direct opponent to Oswald and in 1928 was shown in his first short; Steamboat Willy. This brief was an immediate success and gave Disney enough money to take on bigger, more advanced projects.

Projects such as Snow White which was was the first-ever animated film. Snow White was a huge breakthrough for Disney because up until then, the animation studio was small and nothing compared to big motion pictures. 

This notion was laid to rest when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre on 21 December 1937. The audience was filled with who’s who of Hollywood, and it moved every single one of them to tears.

Snow White was a huge success, and Disney started to consider his next animated film, which was Pinocchio. Disney experienced more success with Pinocchio and later with Dumbo and Bambi. 

Despite those successes, profit margins were slim. Especially after Pinocchio, Disney was forced to forget animation and focus on other ventures. That brought him to film little nature documentaries titled Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures. These were cheaper to produce and easier to create.

The films helped Disney get back on his feet, and before long he was already developing the next feature-length animated film. After that, he took on to create Disney Land, which was an idea that stemmed from a comment Salvador Dali made when visiting Disney as his home. 

After completion of Disney Land, Walt Disney wanted to create the city of tomorrow called EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). Sadly, Disney died before the project was complete and the latter was scrapped entirely. It was thought that only Disney could have made it work. 

What obstacles did he overcome? 
Walt Disney overcame a lot of obstacles in his early career, the main one being that despite making successful films, he wasn’t making a lot of money. There were more than a few times where Disney was struggling despite being the head of The Walt Disney Company.

He pushed through these obstacles though, sometimes by doing what he had to do and kept soldiering on knowing that he would be able to turn up a profit somewhere. 

Lessons Learned?
When you have a super-strong vision like Disney’s you must go for it, that’s your calling in life, and you cannot ignore it. Disney followed this vision, and it never led him astray. It always provided for him, and he always followed it, this was why he moved from so many different areas of business.

From animation to amusement parks and later to the city of tomorrow, He thought big and innovated whenever he could. He was a man with a vision and a mission.

Motivational Business Quote of Walt Disney:

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.

10. Steve Jobs

Born: 24 February 1955
San Francisco, California, United States
Died: 5 October 2011
Palo Alto, California, United States
Net Worth: 10.2 Billion

How did he build his empire?
Steve Jobs earned his net worth through his brainchild, Apple Computer, which he started in his garage.

Both he and business friend and partner sold their possessions to fund the venture. Steve Wozniak was the smarts behind the venture, and Steve Jobs was the marketing, which, when combined, created the first-ever Apple computer called The Apple I.

The Apple 1 did well, netting the business 774,000 dollars. The next project was the Apple II, which netted an incredible 139 Million (a 700 percent increase). Within four years, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak went from struggling businesspeople to multimillionaires.

Jobs is quite different from some of the other businessmen on this list. Steve Jobs stuck with Apple his entire life. He never sold the company or decided to diversify his income. Instead, he put all of his time and energy into making Apple as innovative as possible.

Steve Jobs, like Walt Disney, was a visionary that believed in a better future and wanted to do everything in his power to make this happen. But it wasn’t that straightforward. In the ’80s, Jobs was kicked out of Apple.

The head CEO thought Jobs was hurting the company, and because Jobs never had a formal position. He couldn’t do anything about it. Thankfully, this didn’t stop Jobs relentless determination, and in the ’90s, Jobs was back at Apple. He re-worked the entire management team and self-imposed a salary of $1. He meant business.

In the ensuing years, Jobs developed revolutionary products like the MacBook, iPhone, and iPod. He was always trying to innovate, he saw a bright future, and he wanted Apple to be part of every bit of it. And they were. That also made Jobs immensely rich, but that wasn’t his goal, he just wanted to innovate and create an impact on a global scale, which he did.

What obstacles did he overcome?
Jobs had to overcome losing the company he had worked so hard to create. He had to live with that while still knowing in the back of his head that he would somehow get back in.

When you lose something you’ve worked so hard for, it’s hard to imagine getting it back and genuinely believing it. Jobs kept positive and eventually, regained the reigns of Apple.

Lessons Learned?
Steve Jobs is quite similar to Disney. He just wanted to innovate and create a better future. Some people say follow your passion, which Jobs did.

Motivational Business Quote of Steve Jobs:

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

Takeaway from these motivational business stories

There’s plenty of ways to make money in business. You can be doing something from cooking, or you could be running an Oil Monopoly, but what matters the most is that you genuinely believe in yourself. There’s one common characteristic to everyone on this list, and that is that they believed in themselves. They knew what they were doing and that they would succeed.

With this list of Ten Insanely Motivational Business Stories, we hope to have inspired and motivated our readers to keep grinding at whatever they are doing and dream big!

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