Five Prosperous Entrepreneurs & Their Stories

by Per Wickstrom on December 12, 2014

From Zero to Millions

Prosperous EntrepreneursWe’ve all heard stories of resourceful entrepreneurs who received a large capital investment that they parlayed into a billion dollar career, but this is not a realistic goal for most visionaries. Instead, the average entrepreneur starts with next to nothing financially, but this makes it all the more impressive when they are able to turn a brilliant idea into a prosperous business and a personal net worth in the millions.

There are many compelling prosperous entrepreneurial stories worth learning about, even if just for the sake of inspiration. You may also get a few ideas on how you want to go about chasing your dream. Here are five entrepreneurs and how they went from concept to reality:

1. Sean Belnick (Founder of

In 2001, Sean Belnick was a mere 14-years-old when he launched an e-business that would allow him to achieve a net worth of $42 million in only eight years. Belnick’s story is even more impressive when you learn that he turned a $500 initial investment into a successful business that makes millions of dollars every year. In fact, Belnick was able to move his business from his bedroom to a 40,000 square-foot warehouse space before he was even legally considered an adult. sells a variety of office, medical, school, church, home and restaurant furniture, and it was able to catch on quickly because it was created long before the online furniture market became oversaturated. The e-retailer now employs approximately 75 people and features a catalog of more than 250,000 products.

2. Bre Pettis (Co-Founder of MakerBot)

Bre Pettis is an artist and entrepreneur who has been involved in a wide variety of projects, ranging from MakerBot to filming a pilot for the History Channel. Until 2006, Pettis worked as an art teacher in Seattle. Less than a decade later, Pettis’ net worth is now at least $134 million.

In 2009, Pettis was one of three entrepreneurs to launch MakerBot Industries. The initial purpose of this company was to offer 3-D printing at an affordable price for people with basic technical knowledge. After the company was first started, they began shipping do-it-yourself printer kits that were designed to be as easy to put together as IKEA furniture. As the company became more popular, they branched out into a larger business model that was worth $403 million by 2013. Last year, Pettis made the decision to step down from his position as CEO of MakerBot but he is still involved with the company and has started investing in new start-ups.

3. Adam Hildreth (Founder of Dubit & Crisp Thinking)

Adam Hildreth is the second entrepreneur on this list who entered the business world at the age of 14. Only two years later, Hildreth’s first company, Dubit Limited, became so popular that Coca-Cola and other large companies around the world began using the social networking site for youth focus groups. Hildreth is another example of a young visionary who was able to take next to nothing and turn it into a major company from his bedroom. He was honored in 2010 with an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year UK award. At this point, Hildreth’s net worth is estimated at $40 million.

Dubit Limited was founded in 1999, but Hildreth was not content to stop there. His second company, Crisp Thinking, was launched in 2005. This venture was a wise business choice, as well as being socially conscious. Crisp Thinking creates software aimed at helping parents and schools protect children in their online environment. It has been deemed more than 98% effective at protecting children from conversations with pedophiles and other criminals lurking on the internet.

4. Michelle Phan (Founder of Ipsy)

In 2005, Michelle Phan started writing a personal blog that often contained makeup tutorials. By 2007, Phan had received enough requests for additional information that she began posting video tutorials on YouTube. Within three years, she was working as a makeup artist for Lancome, and she was able to launch her own subscription service for beauty products in 2011. This service was initially called MyGlam, but is now known as Ipsy. Phan’s popularity was expanded in 2013 when a cosmetic line featuring her name was released by L’Oreal. The YouTube star’s most recent venture is a music label entitled Cutting Edge Music.

In only nine years, Phan has gone from merely writing about makeup for fun to being the co-founder of a company that brings in approximately $84 million every year. Phan currently has 6.7 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, and her personal net worth is valued at $3 million.

5. Nick D’aloisio (Founder of Summly)

At the age of 18, Nick D’aloisio was named by the Wall Street Journal as the Innovator of the Year partly because of his app, Summly. The original version of the app was named Trimit, and D’aloisio created it in his parents’ home at the age of 15. The purpose of the app was to condense large amounts of text into more readable bits of information that are easily accessible to smartphone users.

Trimit was so popular that it attracted the attention of billionaire Li Ka-shing, and D’aloisio used Ka-shing’s $300,000 capital investment to tweak the app and relaunch it as Summly. The new version of the app was hailed as a breakthrough for mobile news, and this led to Yahoo purchasing Summly in 2013. As a result of this sale, D’aloisio now has a net worth of approximately $30 million.

Building Your Prosperity

Many people convince themselves that they could never turn a good idea into reality because they “don’t have the money to get it off the ground”. The truth is that you need not wait for a massive capital investment that may never materialize. What you do need is ingenuity, initiative, passion and determination. The bold entrepreneurs I’ve just described were able to make a real mark on the world, and inventions such as Crisp Thinking make the internet safer for kids.

There is no shortage of great ideas out there. What can be missing, however, is the perseverance and expertise to turn an idea into a reality. But you shouldn’t let that, or anything else, stop you. You may not be the next great tech genius. You may not know Instagram from Instamatic. You may lack knowledge and experience. The thing to do is get going anyway, stay alert and receptive, and acquire know-how as you plow ahead and build your prosperity. So dust off your dreams and get started!


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What Components are Crucial for a Solid Business Plan?

by Per Wickstrom on December 3, 2014

What Components Are Crucial For A Strong Business Plan?

Presenting A Business Plan

Many entrepreneurs are anxious about writing and presenting a business plan, but a solid plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Small businesses should cover seven major categories in order to address the most important aspects of their business. Write in an authoritative tone and have a friend or associate proofread your plan before presenting it. Remember to include any unique circumstances or traits of your particular business. This outline should only be used as a guide.

 Writing Your Business Plan

I. Executive Summary

Briefly discuss the key points in Parts II-VII. Describe your business, where it’s located, what it provides and your targeted consumer base. Include information regarding:

  • Gross profits, expenses, anticipated growth and return on investment.
  • The amount of capital you require.
  • What you will do with additional funding.
  • Collateral or amount of equity available.

II. Company Summary

Provide details on current owners, their backgrounds and achievements. Key personnel and vital vendors or suppliers should also be discussed in further detail. Describe why you have partnered with these companies and individuals by explaining what they bring to the table. Also include:

  •  Major accomplishments thus far.
  • Details about where the company stands now.

III. Products and Services

Discuss your company’s products or services in detail. A list that includes prices is often appreciated by lenders. Include production costs related to each product or service. Cash flow charts are encouraged. Also include:

  • Possible changes in policies, vendors or suppliers to increase business or profit.
  • Information on delivery of your product or service.

IV. Market Analysis Summary

Discuss your competition. What sets you apart from them? Also discuss your targeted consumer base by including:

  • Their background.
  • Average household income.
  • How their lives are improved by your product or service.

V. Strategy and Implementation Summary

Now that you’ve discussed your average customer in detail, provide data on how you plan to increase business based upon their habits and demographics, as well as pertinent information on the current marketplace. Include insight on your company’s:

  •  Marketing plan.
  • Possible promotions.
  • Target dates and budgets for each project.

VI. Management Summary

Examine each key player in your organization, including owner, general manager and major suppliers. If you have any high-profile employees, be sure to brag about them here. Include full-length resumes of the owner and general managers. Be certain to include:

  •  Any awards and personal achievements for each individual.
  • An overview of the rest of the company (total number of employees and basic plan of operations).

VII. Financial Plan

If you’re a start-up company, you should take this opportunity to introduce the person who will handle bookkeeping and accounting. Lenders are more comfortable helping those who have already established a plan that includes skilled finance personnel. Other important items to include are:

  • Projected Profit and Loss Table.
  • Projected Cash Flow Table.
  • Notes that explain financial projections.
  • Balance Sheet.
  • Break-Even Analysis.

Presenting Your Business Plan

Dress appropriately when presenting your business plan. It is only acceptable to dress informally if you manufacture or sell informal clothing and/or accessories. Most bank lenders want to see a presenter who takes the time to find a well-fitted suit or dress.

Provide each person with a folder that includes any charts or graphs, along with a copy of the business plan. PowerPoint presentations can be helpful when you are making a presentation to multiple people. Typically, any boardroom at a lending institution will be equipped with a projector. Ask ahead of time. There are some portable projectors available for iPhone users, if necessary. Using a slide presentation eliminates the need for you to sift through a mountain of papers while you’re standing at the front of the room. It also takes the eyes off of you, which can ease your stress level.

When presenting your business plan to potential partners and lenders, it is important to be confident in yourself and your ability to lead the company. Answer questions without hesitation, but avoid rambling. Provide as many facts as possible in order to back up any projections or assumptions. Share any prototypes or blueprints. Offer samples to potential lenders and partners, if available.

Be prepared to negotiate. It is possible that your business evaluation or projections will be debated. You may not be able to get the exact deal that you’d hoped to receive. There may be conditions set in order for you to acquire the deal of your dreams.

Do not agree to any terms that make you uncomfortable. The goal here is to find funds or partners to get your business rolling, not create unwelcome and unnecessary problems. If you know an offer is inadequate, it is probably best to seek help elsewhere.

Don’t be alarmed if lenders or potential partners need additional time to give you an offer or agree to your terms. It’s actually a good sign if they want to read your business plan in detail and examine any charts. This is simply considered due diligence on their part.

Always ask if listeners have any questions at the end of your presentation and thank them for their attention. Shake hands and show optimism, regardless of the outcome. There are always other avenues to acquire funding.

Following Up

It is important to swiftly follow up on any additional requests made by potential lenders or partners. When submitting additional paperwork to their office, include a letter thanking them again for their time. Always respond cordially and in a timely manner. In fact, this is good advice whether you are dealing with a bank or a customer.

If your business evaluation was questioned, or you feel that your presentation went poorly, seek the advice of the Small Business Administration. They have a very helpful website. There may be a nearby SBA office that supplies free advice, will review your business plan, and give you suggestions on future presentations. They may even have additional statistics about consumers, similar businesses and the marketplace in general.



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What is a Business Plan? The term “business plan” usually refers to a plan for a start-up – one that is presented to a bank or to investors in order to secure capital. The business plan, while it is a practical and doable plan, serves to present a new venture and its market value, growth [...]

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