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Highly Successful Entrepreneurs Who Used to Be Homeless

Highly Successful Entrepreneurs Who Used to Be Homeless

The origins of successful entrepreneurs vary from person to person. But did you know that the following successes were homeless at one point?

1. Tyler Perry

Tyler_Perry_-_army_mil-66455-2010-03-09-180359

    Image courtesy of Sgt. Michael Connors, via Wikimedia Commons

    Known for portraying “Madea,” Tyler Perry has amassed fortunes, fame, and fun in his career in the entertainment industry. He’s gained fame as an actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, producer, author, and songwriter, specializing in the gospel genre.

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    Perry’s entered the entertainment industry in 1992 as a playwright. After listening to an episode of Oprah, where the daytime talk show host suggested that writing things down was cathartic, he decided to write his first play. I Know I’ve Been Changed was about the pain and shortcomings Perry had experienced in life.

    He was homeless for months at a time and spent many nights in pay-by-the-week hotels or in his car. He used the little money he had to get I Know I’ve Been Changed into a local theater in New Orleans, but he couldn’t seem to draw an audience to the play. However, his persistence and perseverance paid off in 1998. During a limited showing of the play, audiences began to show up in big numbers. The play was so successful, it then moved to the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

    Since 1998, Perry has written 13 additional plays and 12 films. In 2008, he opened his own entertainment studio in Atlanta, with a 400 employee workforce behind him.

    2. Dani Johnson

    successful entrepreneur
      Courtesy of Dani Johnson media kit

      If you don’t believe you can go from living out of your car with $2 in your pocket to becoming a millionaire at 23 years old, then take a look at Dani Johnson. Her life was marred by sexual abuse from her stepfather, teenage pregnancy, and being homeless, but she didn’t allow that to stop her from finding success. In fact, Johnson has turned the obstacles she’s faced into lessons and speeches that empower others to strive for greatness.

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      Johnson’s first brush with success came after she began marketing products for a health company from the back of her car. She soon became the company’s top salesperson. Her success sparked interest from others who wanted to know how to duplicate her achievements. Johnson decided to launch her own training company to teach her business skills to others. The training company later lead to the development of her own health and nutrition marketing company.

      The success of both companies turned Johnson into a multimillionaire by the age of 23.

      3.  Suze Orman

      successful entrepreneur

        Courtesy of Suze Orman media kit

        When it comes to personal finances, Suze Orman is one of the persons you think of first. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for money has made her a multimillionaire, but her road to fame and success was not easy. She had to overcome several roadblocks — including a speech impediment that caused poor performance in school, dropping out of college, and living as a homeless person.

        Growing up, Orman struggled to pronounce her R’s, S’s, and T’s properly, which hampered her reading ability throughout the student years. According to Orman, she didn’t score well on her SAT exam. This limited the colleges she could attend to either a community college or a state school. She was accepted into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but ran into another challenge her senior year: She hadn’t fulfilled her language requirement. Despite what some may consider a radical decision, she decided to drop out and take a cross-country road trip.

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        Orman ended up in California, where she found her first job at a tree service making $3.50 an hour. She couldn’t afford to find a place to stay, so she and a friend lived out of the truck she had bought.

        Orman later found a job as a waitress, which inspired her to want to open her own restaurant. Through donations she raised a total of $50,000, putting the money into a brokerage account. However, the broker mishandled her money and lost it all in three months. This caused Orman to develop a curiosity for how brokers operate. She studied the field and learned all she could about Wall Street.

        Orman later interviewed for a job as a broker and was hired, making $1500 a month. She became one of the most successful brokers at Merrill Lynch. After leaving the company, she used her knowledge of finance to teach people through TV, books, and seminars about how to effectively manage their money.

        4. Howard Schultz

        successful entrepreneur

          Courtesy of Starbucks Newsroom

          Howard Schultz is another example of the amazing amount of success you can gain by simply not allowing your situation to get you down. As a kid growing up in New York City, Schultz and his family were poor. They stayed in public housing and struggled to make ends meet. After graduating from high school, Schultz became the first in his family to attend college — with the help of an athletic scholarship to Northern Michigan University.

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          After a successful stint at Xerox, he took on a management role at a coffee manufacturer that worked with Starbucks at the time. He was impressed with the coffee chain that consisted of only four stores. It inspired him to open his own coffee shop, but he had one problem — money. It would cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars to open his own coffee business.

          Following years of dedication to raise the money necessary to open his first shop, he finally had enough. In 1986, he opened Il Giornale and within years he had bought the Starbucks chain and turned it into a multi-billion dollar business.

          Today, Starbucks is the universal name for gourmet coffee.

          Featured photo credit: Dani Johnson via danijohnson.com

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          Kim Beasley

          CEO/Business Visibility Strategist

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          Last Updated on September 18, 2019

          11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

          11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

          Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

          Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

          “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

          While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

          The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

          What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

          The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

          1. Cloud Computing

          “Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

          There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

          This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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          2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

          Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

          Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

          his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

          3. Data Management

          All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

          We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

          However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

          4. Scheduling

          Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

          An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

          5. Financial Skills

          These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

          While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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          6. Research Skills

          These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

          Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

          So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

          If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

          If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

          7. Marketing Skills

          While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

          Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

          While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

          8. Network Security Specialist

          Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

          So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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          9. Communication Skills

          At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

          Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

          10. Computer Programming

          I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

          11. Graphic Design

          As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

          Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

          That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

          Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

          You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

          Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

          Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

          Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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          This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

          You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

          But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

          Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

          In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

          Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

          And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

          The Bottom Line

          We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

          We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

          We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

          As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

          More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

          Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
          [2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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