Seven amazing stories from the world’s business leaders

In honour of World Entrepreneur Day, Vision shares first-person accounts from business revolutionaries, from Richard Branson to Jo Malone

This is the era of entrepreneurs. In 2017 alone, more startups are being launched than in the previous four years, with millennials and baby boomers alike embracing their entrepreneurial spirit in search of new business ventures.

But the entreprenuerial world is renowned for its challenges – from financial risk, to personal and logistical barriers – and many question if they have what it takes to start a successful business. Is it emotional resilience? A born entrepreneurial spirit? Or simply financial capital?

Below, Vision shares quotes from successful entrepreneurs, whose personal stories provide a valuable lesson for budding businesspeople and corporate giants alike. 

Be resourceful

Richard Branson Virgin 2
Virgin is Branson's most recognisable brand, spanning media, transport and health, among other areas

“I started my first business with a handful of coins out of a phone-box at school, but it was the £300 from my mum that really kick-started Student magazine and sparked the Virgin adventure 40 years ago. I’ve always believed that all an entrepreneur needs is a small amount of money to get started and the desire to make a change and mix things up a bit.”

- Richard Branson, serial entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group

Don’t rush

Kim Thompson and her business partner, Matt Toogood RAW Coffee
Kim Thompson and her business partner, Matt Toogood

“Our [RAW Coffee company’s] growth has been slow and organic, and the perception might be we could have done more, faster, but as we gained that knowledge [about the coffee industry] we could then apply it. We didn’t have the confidence initially to go directly to different countries. Now, every year we go to an origin country and we understand now what to look for.”

- Kim Thompson, co-founder of RAW Coffee

Tell your story

Duschinsky's viral Ice Bucket Challenge raised awareness - and millions of dollars - for those suffering from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Scler
Duschinsky's viral Ice Bucket Challenge raised awareness - and millions of dollars - for those suffering from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)

“Inside every one of us we have a truth, a story that we can tell, and that we need to tell, and people are terrified of that. But we need to face the fact we can either go through life by ticking boxes or we can make the most valuable contribution as human beings right here, right now. That’s through articulating what’s important and showing leadership by getting the story out and seeing if people will resonate with it.”

- Jon Duschinsky, one of the founders behind the viral Ice Bucket Challenge

Dream big

Mudassir Sheikha and his co-founder, Magnuss Olsson
Mudassir Sheikha (left) and Magnuss Olsson co-foudned the Middle East's first unicorn

“I remember having a discussion with my friends that by the time we were 24 we should have millions of dollars in our bank accounts. Those were the aspirations back in the day.”

- Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder of Careem, the Middle East’s first billion-dollar company

Embrace humble beginnings

Ashish Thakkar
Mara Group was founded by Thakkar when he was just 15 years old, and has become a thriving global business

“[When I started my business at 15], I’d stay in a two-star hotel in Deira at Dh60 (US$16) a night. My biggest treat, when I thought I’d made a really good deal, was going to Pizza Hut in Karama. That was a real splash. I kept an account of every dirham.”

- Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group

Be brave

Jo Malone
As well as founding a series of world-renowned perfume companies, Jo Malone has written a successful biography

“When I pulled the first perfume for Jo Loves, Pomelo, my team was so disappointed. But when I smelt it, there was something in the heart of the fragrance that wasn’t up to scratch, so I went back and unpicked the whole thing. The whole team were ready to launch: the PR, marketing, packaging was done. It cost us £100,000 but far better that I got it right, because my instinct and the way I create fragrance – it’s my integrity.”

- Jo Malone founder of a celebrated self-named perfume business and new venture Jo Loves

Pave the way for others

Haifa Al Kaylani
Haifa Al Kaylani's Arab International Women’s Forum opens doors for female entrepreneurs in the region and beyond

“Change is coming and it has been coming. When I started AIWF in 2001, we were talking about a window of opportunity opening up for Arab women. Now there are wide doors.”

- Haifa Al Kaylani founder of the London-based Arab International Women’s Forum (AIWF)