#ThrowbackThursday – 10 Entrepreneurs To Remember On Independence Day

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Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist's StefanoVenturi

As we approach the of the 240th instance of the American Independence Day, it is a good time as any to look back at how far we’ve come with regards to innovation and entrepreneurial ambitions. America after all is the place where anyone can, through hard work, skill and ingenuity, achieve the American dream. Let’s start by identifying what the ‘American Dream’ means to people out there, people who are willing to apply their business, technical and cultural understanding of how things work in order to make it big in America. For native Americans, it means pursuing financial security, laying down family roots and enjoying freedom that the US constitution has guaranteed them as citizens. For immigrants in search of the American dream, this can mean finding a good job and owning a home.

America has proven itself to be the land of opportunity, where people can come up with ideas and accomplish them. History is replete with examples of how people with little in the way of wealth or resources have achieved marvelous feats of success, in most cases becoming owners of a sprawling business empire in the pursuit of the American dream. These people have not only uplifted themselves, but also millions of families as well, contributing to America’s economic and cultural superpower status as in the process.

Here are 10 such entrepreneurs who have scaled dizzying heights and achieved success, with strength, willpower and perseverance:

1. Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

No list of American entrepreneurs is ever complete without the mention of Benjamin Franklin. He’s known as America’s original entrepreneur since he put a lot of ideas that he had into practice, seeing them through with a business-oriented approach. He created the first American insurance company, wrote many books, invented the rocking chair and more. And he owned his first company at 22 years of age.

2. Henry Ford

Henry Ford

We all know Henry Ford and there’s a pretty good reason why every American knows about this remarkable man’s equally remarkable contributions to business. He is the one who pioneered the concept of mass production with his Ford Motor Company. He was also the original marketer, with every newspaper at that time running ads about the car he was producing. He came up with the concept of the assembly line, a process that all businesses use to this day to streamline production costs and enhance capacity.

3. John von Neumann

Jon von Neumann

Sometimes we have entrepreneurs who work in the shadows, eschewing publicity so that they can do what they do best – change the world. Jon von Neumann was one such soul. Its because of his efforts that the computer came into being, thanks to his work in mathematics, quantum mechanics and even nuclear physics. This is a guy you won’t find in your Forbes list of today, but one whose contributions speak volumes about himself.

4. Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

Mr. Carnegie’s tale is a classic rags-to-riches story. Though his family business collapsed when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, that didn’t deter Carnegie. He was poor and hungry but thanks to his never-say-die attitude, he soon took a lowly job as a railroad assistant and started investing. His investments paid off, with Carnegie going to create Carnegie Steel, a major success story. He’s considered one of the biggest philanthropists of his time, with the majority of his money going into new parks, education programs and museums.

5. Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

Every kid and adult that lives today is familiar with Mark Zuckerberg. And how could they not be when the guy has created the world’s most popular social media network? Zuckerberg’s creation forever transformed the way that people connected online and interacted. Nothing was ever going to be the same again once Facebook, Zuckerberg’s company, became a huge cultural and technological juggernaut with people all around the world. Sending messages, photos, videos, ideas, views, comments and likes has turned into one of the most prominent ways of how people spend their days now.

Related: 5 Signs You Are Destined To Be an Entrepreneur

6. Oprah Winfrey


Who doesn’t know Oprah? One of the most popular talk show hosts in recent history, Oprah is also a successful entrepreneur in her own right. She credits her empathy as the driving force behind her entrepreneurial ambitions, overcoming a past replete with poverty, abuse and neglect to become one of America’s favorite people.

7. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Talk about making tech that everyone loves to the hilt. This was just one of the things that Steve Jobs did for the world. He single-handedly revolutionized the music industry with the iPod-iTunes ecosystem, then did the same for mobiles with the iPhone. The guy had a knack for the little details, a perfectionist to the core. It is due to his efforts that the company that he founded in 1976 is now considered the richest tech company in the world. He has taught entrepreneurs that design is important and nothing should be left to chance.

8. Bill Gates

Bill Gates

There’s a reason why computing has become so common and accessible in the world, a fact that owes much to the efforts of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. He’s considered one of the finest tech minds in recent history, as well as the philanthropist who has contributed much to the elimination of world hunger and diseases. Bill Gates is, basically the man, who has brought the benefits of the PC revolution to developed and developing countries in a major way.

9. Walt Disney

Walt Disney

Entrepreneurs are set up for failure before they can flourish, thinking from their mistakes as they go. Walt Disney however, had to face more than his fair share of discouragement. Its hard to think that Mickey Mouse wasn’t considered a good sell when Walt first pitched his idea to people. But he didn’t let their criticism deter him, working on his vision tirelessly and eventually, setting up the world’s most famous animation studio and company. Like his characters, even his story is one of going on to accomplish magical things.

10. Larry Page

Larry Page

Larry Page and Sergie Brin started Google in a garage. They are now owners of one of the biggest and influential tech companies of the world, a feat made all the more impressive in the short amount of time they have expanded and diversified their business portfolio. Larry Page attributes this to learning new things no matter what your core competency is. He wasn’t just about resting on Google’s laurels as the world’s most popular search engine. His company now includes the world’s biggest mobile OS, email service and much more.

These titans of industry have shown how the power of ideas can work wonders in the American landscape where there’s potential and incentive in realizing those dreams. Now there are more channels and avenues for doing business thanks to the advent of the internet and companies like Google, Facebook and others. The cost of undertaking market research is significantly lower, thanks to the free online survey tools that can provide business-critical information for entrepreneurs. If you think you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur in modern day America, then what are you waiting for? The world’s your oyster.

About The Author

Kelvin Stiles is a tech enthusiast and works as a marketing consultant at SurveyCrest – FREE online survey software and publishing tools for academic and business use. He is also an avid blogger and a comic book fanatic.