When it comes to running a business, sometimes a little bit of inspiration from people who have found success is all it takes to reboot some energy and enthusiasm for your idea. So, whether it’s taking a calculated risk overseas or doing something totally unexpected from their mum’s garage, check out these five entrepreneurs who are breaking the boundaries of business…
- Ross Bailey
Bailey is certainly one of those people who breaks the boundaries of business: aged just 20, he launched an online retail marketplace called ‘Appear Here’. After securing an incredible £1 million in funding, he launched a platform that simplifies the way that commercial landlords rent out their spaces to retailers and entrepreneurs. Thinking outside the box, Bailey removed the legal jargon from tenancy agreements and chose to offer a two-page-only legal agreement, giving our high streets a new lease of life.
- Ben Francis
Someone else who proves that age really is just a number is Ben Francis. The creator of Gymshark started his business as a teenager, saving the tips from his job as a pizza delivery boy. Aged 19 he was living with his mother, and after a year of saving inventory, he had enough stock to sell well-fitting gym clothes to millenials from his mother’s garage. He bought a sewing machine to improve the designs he was offering, and it wasn’t terribly long before he and his small team were making £30,000 a day. At only 25 years old, Francis is now the owner of the fastest growing company in the UK, generating £41 million in sales alone in 2017.
- Sara Blakely
Sara Blakely is the founder of world-renowned shapewear brand, ‘Spanx’, and despite knowing nothing about business (nor much about pantyhose either), she is now the youngest self-made female billionaire in America. Most incredibly of all is that Blakely owns 100% of the private company, has no debt, has never taken investment and also didn’t take out a single print advertisement until 2016 – she built the business herself with $5,000 of savings while working a 9-5 job, handling everything from the patents to the pitching, as well as the PR. Before long, Blakely expanded globally and started selling to other countries, and nowadays, the Spanx line is manufactured in 15 countries across the world.
- Taavet Hinrikus and Kirsto Käärmann
Hinrikus and Käärmann are the CEOs and co-founders of TransferWise. Their online banking system (designed when the pair were living in London with bills to pay in Euros) is revolutionary, cutting out foreign exchange fees to make international money transfers less expensive. The company is now valued at over $1billion, with $117 million worth of funding from the likes of Richard Branson, Max Lechin and Peter Thiel. They have over 600 employees across four continents – something they’ve achieved in just six years.
- Jessi Baker
Jessi Baker is the CEO and tech designer for Provenance, a business that helps shoppers to find out exactly where their clothing and food comes from. Provenance came about when Baker was studying for a PhD in computer science in 2013. She was looking at emerging blockchain technology, and developed Provenance as a way of logging store information at every stage of a supply chain, open to anyone to access.
Baker’s ethical platform has been listed on the Telegraph’s Top 10 Amazing Science and Technology Innovations for the fact it demands (and facilitates) greater transparency by brands, and greater knowledge for consumers – something that breaks the boundaries of business indeed.
Now employing staff in the UK, US, France and Germany, Baker told the BBC “… the ultimate goal of Provenance is that one day it will be impossible to buy a product that compromises your health and morals. Businesses that have very opaque supply chains and are not taking active steps to make them transparent should really fear us.”
Are you inspired by these ground-breaking individuals? There are certainly lessons to learn about success from this handful of entrepreneurs.