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Some entrepreneurs only become successful after they’ve been successful in another career: perhaps they’ve mastered work as a consultant or manager and used the skills they learned to build their own business.
Also see: 8 Great Entrepreneurial Success Stories
Or maybe they started a business with almost no experience — and little money to fund their efforts.
For example, instead of raising money through crowdfunding or investor financing, some of history’s most successful entrepreneurs – particularly those who existed before crowdfunding and the internet – raised money through it sell their property, or using resources they already had. Perhaps instead of relying on a wealth of experience to influence their decisions, they learned spontaneously through trial and error.
It’s much easier to understand how this works by looking at historical examples of entrepreneurs who have taken these different paths. Here are some of the best examples:
You probably know Andrew Carnegie’s name as he is one of the most famous and wealthy industrialists of all time. However, he did not accumulate his fortune from any formal education or business-oriented background. Instead, he dropped out of school at a young age and spent the Physical labor for much of his youth. He was a bludgeon boy at a local cotton mill and then became a telegraph messenger. It wasn’t until he taught himself to read and got into the railroad industry that he began to build the empire that would make him (and his family) a fortune.
2. John Paul DeJoria
You may not have heard of John Paul DeJoria, but you’ve certainly indulged in some of the beauty products associated with his name. Today, DeJoria is a multi-billionaire and one of the most successful entrepreneurs in modern history, starting out as newspaper courier. To make ends meet, he worked as a tow truck driver and janitor. Eventually he found his way into a hair care company where he met his future partner Paul Mitchell. With minimal experience and a $700 loan, the duo formed what is now known as John Paul Mitchell Systems. From there, DeJoria co-founded Patron Spirits and the House of Blues.
Also see: 5 Entrepreneurs Who Started With Nothing — and 3 Lessons to Learn
If someone asked you for a loan to open a restaurant but had no formal cooking training or experience, would you grant that loan? It seems crazy to think that anyone without a background in the industry could become a successful restaurateur, but that’s exactly what it is what Harlan “Colonel” Sanders could do. When he started his line of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, the only childhood experience he had was cooking for his siblings and working a variety of odd jobs.
4. Joyce Hall
The founder of Hallmark Cards didn’t have much experience writing greeting cards, nor did he—yes, that Joyce was a he—much experience as a businessman. Instead, he started selling perfume to his neighbors and then started a business selling postcards to gift shops and bookstores. Only after a fire destroyed most of his stash did he resort to making his own cards. From there he was able to start a chain that brought him millions.
Jan Koum doesn’t get as much press or attention as other tech company founders, but his story is both surprising and impressive. Koum then immigrated to California with his family Leaving a small village in Ukraine. He didn’t have much education, but managed to teach himself the basics of computer science in his free time. By the time he was 18, despite his lack of formal education or training, he was able to attract the attention of Yahoo! attracted attention, where he made a name for himself as an infrastructure engineer. After working for a few years in what was then a young computer industry, Koum saw the potential of his own app and launched WhatsApp. In 2014 he sold it for $19 billion.
A note on immersion
These stories should serve as proof that you can do it without experience; Perhaps they offer an inspiration that you too can do the same. What these stories are not, however, is an invitation to avoid work experience or enter the entrepreneurial world without thinking.
See Also: 10 People Who Became Insanely Successful After Rejection
Any leadership position or position within the industry you wish to enter can greatly increase your chances of success. If you don’t get the experience there, you’ll have to make up for it through trial and error in your first venture. The message here? Get that “experience” early.