4 Famous People Who Started With Little but Achieved Great Success When the entrepreneurial path seems impossibly steep, recharge yourself with the wisdom of great achievers who overcame unpromising beginnings.

By Jacqueline Whitmore

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every entrepreneur's journey to success is different. Each one of us must look for, or create, opportunities to sell or promote. Most importantly, we need the courage to forge ahead with what we believe, even when others around us tell us it won't work.

To excel, you mustn't listen to the naysayers. Instead, continue to have patience and perseverance. Be inspired by these famous people who followed their passion and created their success.

Coco Chanel

"Success is often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable."

Coco Chanel was born in 1883 to an unmarried mother who worked as a laundry woman in a charity hospital. Her father was an itinerant street vendor who peddled work clothes. She lived an entirely unglamorous life. She learned to sew at age six and was able to find employment as a seamstress. Through a series of fortunate relationships, she began designing hats, then deluxe casual clothing before opening up a fashion boutique in Paris and growing to international renown. Perhaps her own story inspired her quote.

Related: How Today's Young Female Entrepreneurs Embrace Their Feminine Mystique

Danny Thomas

"Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others."

Danny Thomas once referred to himself as a "starving actor," and vowed that if he found success, he would open a shrine dedicated to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. The actor became successful and was best known for his television sitcom Make Room for Daddy, but he never forgot his promise. In the 1950s he and his wife traveled the U.S. to raise funds to build the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Booker T. Washington

"Success isn't measured by the position you reach in life; it's measured by the obstacles you overcome."

Booker T. Washington was born in slavery in 1856. After being freed by the Emancipation Proclamation he moved with his family to West Virginia. There he went to school and worked in the coal mines to earn money. He went east to Hampton Institute, a school established to educate freedmen, and went on to become the first leader of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he served throughout his life. He became a prominent national leader for African Americans and a leading voice for former slaves and their descendants.

Related: 50 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate You

Babe Ruth

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way."

George Herman "Babe'' Ruth was a star pitcher in his early career but achieved his fame as "The Sultan of Swat" by hitting 714 home runs and driving in 2,213 runs in 22 seasons between 1914 and 1935. Growing up in an apartment above his father's saloon, he was sent to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys at age 7, a reformatory and orphanage in Baltimore, where he remained for the next 12 years. Here he was expected to learn a skill, and became a shirt maker and a carpenter, as well as began playing baseball. Throughout his life, he visited orphanages, schools and hospitals, donating money and attending fundraisers as well.

Ruth rose above his humble beginnings, inspired thousands and became one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

When you own your own business, you may sometimes feel that you will never make it. These people most likely felt the same way, but they persevered to create legacies that last throughout time. Start small and begin your journey to success by making a positive impact in your community or industry.

Related: The 5 Characteristics of Extraordinary Salespeople

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Starting a Business

This College Student Was Tired of Working In Bars Until 4 am. So He Started a Car Detailing Side Hustle — Earning $7,000 a Month

Jack TerHaar, a University of Georgia senior, is polishing profits with Detail Dawgs, a mobile detailing service in Athens.

Science & Technology

3 Reasons Why Web3 Will Flip Digital Ownership On Its Head

Here are the three things that Web3 could completely change about digital ownership.

Business News

Bank Accidentally Deposits $86 Million Into Woman's Account, Freezes Her Assets

The incident occurred at the Malaysian bank, Maybank.

Business News

Hawaiian Airlines Stock Soars Over 192% After $1.9 Billion Acquisition

Alaska Airlines announced that it had purchased the smaller airline on Monday.


Why Every Entrepreneur Should Consider Starting a Podcast

This article sheds light on the power of podcasts, particularly for entrepreneurs, outlining steps to launch a successful podcast.