In business, personality can carry you a long way – but it’s your actions that truly stand out. The most famous people in business are those who have led their companies to success by redefining how business is done while also helping their employees find happiness. By showing aspiring businesses how to succeed and setting a great example, these are the entrepreneurs who will always be remembered for their British business brilliance.
1. Sir Richard Branson
An unsurprising entry in terms of his sheer contribution to business, Richard Branson began his career selling a magazine called Student. He began selling records through the magazine, undercutting the prices of high street retailers. This was the birth of Virgin, named for being new to business and now a name synonymous with British business.
Branson may have grown up with dyslexia and poor academic performance, but he has went on to successfully launch Virgin Records, Virgin Airways and Virgin Mobile. He has performed a huge number of publicity stunts that include driving a tank through New York and attempting to navigate the globe in a hot air balloon. Whether he succeeded or failed, Sir Richard Branson’s efforts have always been noted and admired by the public. For good reason too, as staff at Virgin get unlimited holidays and longer paternity leave.
Net Worth: Approximately 5 billion USD.
Lesson: Be daring, attract attention and reward your employees.
2. Alan Sugar
While he may be famous for celebrity appearances on The Apprentice, Lord Alan Sugar is a recent billionaire who built his empire from virtually nothing. He comes from a working class background and began selling electrical goods from a van. However, after founding Amstrad in 1968, he began to experience rapid success by manufacturing electrical equipment. Despite difficulties, a series of smart investments including Tottenham Hotspur, Amscreen and Amprop now puts Alan Sugar at a net worth of over a billion pounds.
Despite controversy around his business attitude and poor technology predictions (Sugar once famously speculated that the iPod would be dead by Christmas 2005), he remains one of the greatest examples of a self-made man in modern business.
Net Worth: Approximately £1.4 billion.
Lesson: The opportunity is there for anyone who has the desire to succeed.
3. Peter Jones
Another celebrity you might recognise from a TV show, Peter Jones is also one of the UK’s most progressive entrepreneurs, having founded the first enterprise academy in the country to support other entrepreneurs and help them achieve their dreams. Jones has managed to establish himself as a leading businessman despite some early failures, which saw him lose £200,000 on the sale of his cocktail bar and have to move back in with his parents.
After setting up Phones International Group in 1998, Peter Jones went on to a number of successful ventures and set up the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy in 2009. His place on Dragon’s Den helped increase public interest in his activities and in 2013 he bought Jessops.
Net Worth: Approximately £475 million.
Lesson: Failures don’t mean you should give up. Support other people’s ventures as you never know what might also benefit you.
4. Victoria Beckham
While you may assume that Victoria Beckham’s fame precludes her from this list, she’s still arguably one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs, completing rebranding herself and becoming one of the world’s most influential fashion icons.
Despite getting a famous head start as a member of The Spice Girls, Victoria has gone on to launch the Victoria Beckham label, which was the designer brand of the year in 2011. She completely defied expectations, with many branding her a WAG that would not succeed in the fashion industry.
Net Worth: Approximately £240 million.
Lesson: Never be afraid to reinvent yourself. If an idea or plan doesn’t come to fruition, you can move on to the next one.
5. Theo Paphitis
The son of Cypriot parents who immigrated to England at 9 years of age, Theo Paphitisa true self-made man who has risen from obscurity to both business success and the public eye. After starting the school tuck shop at 15, Paphitis discovered his love for entrepreneurship and went on to work for Legal & General, where he learned how to read business balance sheets. His first venture was a property finance company, but he spotted a gap in the emerging mobile phone business and bought into NAG Telecom.
From there, he managed to take advantage of the failing Ryman stationary store by buying it out and turning it around. Since, Theo Paphitis has been responsible for changing the fortunes of Robert Dyas, Ryman and Red Letter Days. He also successfully launched lingerie retailer Boux Avenue and was the chairman of Millwall Football Club between 1997 and 2005.
Net Worth: Approximately £280 million.
Lesson: Making smart investments can pay off big time. A product that looks like its failing can be turned around with sensible decisions and enthusiasm.
Do you want to turn your entrepreneurial skills into true success? Maybe you just need some enthusiasm to help you transform that idea into a reality. Enrol on a leadership development course with Impact International to help uncover your worth.