10 Motivational Entrepreneurs to Follow

photo of seven young entrepreneurs sitting in front of a chalk mural that boasts of the traits of motivational entrepreneurs

Who doesn’t know about Warren Buffet and his triumph over his fear of public speaking? Or Oprah Winfrey’s tumultuous life journey before becoming the media mogul that she is now? Successful entrepreneurs are shining stars in the business world, but their successes can make them serve as role models, too.

Motivational entrepreneurs inspire because of one big reason: they’ve made it. The path leading to their bold goal was certainly not easy. But with grit, focus, and a positive attitude, they emerged as winners.

In need of a pick-me-up? Here’s a list just for you, and it’s packed with successful entrepreneurs with pearls of wisdom that just might inspire.

The Wise and Their Wisdom

  1. John Paul DeJoria is not afraid of rejection. His mantra is to always look forward and take the next steps. For this reason, DeJoria is not afraid to try new things. His diverse ventures and endeavors reflect this courage. He co-founded the Patron Spirits, Paul Mitchell Systems and ROKit Phones. And he supports various philanthropic and environmental causes.

“You have to be just as enthusiastic to overcome rejection… …keep on going and be just as enthusiastic on the next door… and look at what’s going on in front of you, not behind you, because you can’t change yesterday’s newspaper.”                             – John Paul DeJoria

  1. Sara Blakely is tenacious—a quality that propelled the entrepreneur toward the pinnacle of success. She wanted to invent a product that can make people feel good. Blakely did not stop until she found and developed her “big idea”. Her persistence paid off with the birth of SPANX, which is now a billion-dollar intimate apparel company.

“… ideas are most vulnerable in their infancy. And the moment you have an idea, it’s human nature to turn to your husband, your wife, your co-worker, and tell them your idea. And out of love and concern, people will tell you two or three things that they think maybe you should consider. … So, by not telling my idea for one year, I left ego out of it, and I didn’t have to spend the time defending my idea or explaining my idea. I spent all the time pursuing my idea.”                                        – Sara Blakely

  1. Marc Benioff—the groundbreaking founder and CEO of Salesforce—makes it to our list of motivational entrepreneurs. Benioff mastered his environment by building upon the achievements of those before him. Mentored by Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison, Benioff revolutionized cloud computing with Salesforce. And with his foray on philanthropy and social activism, and in supporting various causes—such as gender equality—Benioff is unstoppable.

“You have chosen the wrong path if it’s not fun. And you are probably not taking enough risk if it’s not hard and rocky sometimes.”                                                                                     – Marc Benioff

  1. Gary Vaynerchuk can sell anything—from lemonade to wine, to inspiration and ideas. How does he do that? Vaynerchuk harnesses intuition, observation and experience. Most significantly, his well of energy is overflowing. Besides being an accomplished entrepreneur, he is an author, speaker, social media influencer and wine connoisseur. Truly, Vaynerchuk deserves a spot on our list of motivational entrepreneurs.

“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them, or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.”                                                                                                                – Gary Vaynerchuk

  1. Jan Koum founded WhatsApp in 2008 while the startup environment wasn’t as dynamic and strong as it is nowadays. But Koum took a chance. Trusting his intuition and observation, he developed the app and launched it to the market. Since then, there was no turning back. Nowadays, WhatsApp is a billion-dollar company with a billion users globally. It was all made possible because Koum took the step.

“A lot of times, people start out with a lot of good ideas, but then they don’t execute. They lose the purity of their vision. You end up running around in circles.”                                             – Jan Koum

  1. Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, is one of the motivational entrepreneurs of our time. Ma’s persistence is phenomenal. He applied to three universities and 30 companies—all of which rejected him. Of all the ten times he applied for Harvard University, he got rejected, too. Even after earlier failures, Ma is proof that success comes to those who don’t give up.

“If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”                                                                              – Jack Ma

  1. Chris Gardner is a champion whose greatest trait is fortitude. His life is literally an open book—and which, in fact, has been turned into a movie! His trials and triumphs inspired millions of people, making him one of our motivational entrepreneurs. Despite difficulties, he managed to stay on track and make positive choices in life.

“The future was uncertain, absolutely, and there were many hurdles, twists, and turns to come, but as long as I kept moving forward, one foot in front of the other, the voices of fear and shame, the messages from those who wanted me to believe that I wasn’t good enough, would be stilled.”                       – Chris Gardner

  1. Mark Cuban took the time to understand every industry he ventured in. He recognized the truth that to succeed he needed to know more than anyone else. He was intentional in his actions, did his homework, and worked tirelessly. Nowadays, as one of the motivational entrepreneurs of our time, he is an ardent supporter of up and coming startups.

“It’s not about money or connections—it’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone… And if it fails, you learn from what happened and do a better job next time.”                                   – Mark Cuban

  1. Vera Wang is passionate and precise. She has a goal, and she sets plans on how to get there in detail. In the cutthroat and competitive fashion industry, these traits have helped Wang propel her company into a top lifestyle brand. Nowadays, celebrities and icons wear Vera Wang creations—a proof that that with hard work, creativity, and focus, everything is possible.

“When you have a passion for something then you tend not only to be better at it, but you work harder at it too.”                 – Vera Wang

  1. James Dyson believes that there is always a better way to do things. As an inventor and designer of thousands of patents and prototypes, Dyson is perpetually observing, improving, and tinkering. Improvement and innovation is a continuous discovery, and it’s a process that can be applied in all aspects of life.

“…it’s actually fascinating because you are understanding what the change does. It improves it, you get excited. If it doesn’t improve it, if it’s a failure, you actually get excited as well because you’ve understood why it didn’t work.”                 – Sir James Dyson

On the Path of Motivation

No matter what path we follow, when roadblocks and challenges hit, we could all draw motivation from success stories to encourage us to press on with the journey. Model the route of those who have lived boldly. Learn from their achievements, mirror their traits, and channel the success of motivational entrepreneurs into your own life. Begin today.

About the Author

Imee Rabang is a blogger/writer and bilingual poet from Manila, Philippines. She is an advocate of Philippine culture and supports causes that promote language and national identity. She juggles her time between work, parenthood, and community outreach programs. She also dabbles in photography and graphic arts in her free time.
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