What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? Some say courage; others say good instincts and an uncanny ability to tolerate high levels of risk. These famous entrepreneurs rolled the dice and eventually won big by flexing their entrepreneurial skills and taking huge chances. Whether risking their lives, their fortunes or just their pride, they made it to the top and got rich.
Richard Branson: Imagine you're a new band trying to make an impression on the 1970s punk rock scene in England. What do you do? One idea: Troll the Queen of England's silver jubilee with a controversial song about Her Highness and the British Empire to boot. Next, take a boat ride down the Thames River in front of the House of Parliament and blast that same song for all to hear. This publicity stunt by the Sex Pistols, a band signed to Richard Branson's Virgin Records label in 1977, went down in anti-establishment history. It was a risky move wholly supported by Branson, and it paid off in spades. Branson would go on to make bigger leaps and eventually become the co-founder of the multibillion dollar Virgin Group, whose holdings include a record label, hotel chain, airline and other business ventures.
Elon Musk: Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla, had a start-up teetering on the brink of disaster in 2008. At one point, he wasn't even sure he'd make payroll, but knew his fledgling company had to stay afloat. To make sure his employees got paid, he made the ultimate sacrifice. The last $3 million he had to his name was used to pay his employees to keep Tesla running. After being tapped out on cash, Musk said he had to borrow money from friends for his own rent. Tesla went public in 2010 and earned him more than $600 million. Today, Musk is worth more than $16 billion.
Warren Buffett: Considered a strong proponent of value investing, his approach to acquiring companies and securities goes against the grain. He regularly invests in stocks when most investors are running away from them. In fact, Buffett is known for making more than a few risky acquisitions (or buying substantial positions) of companies in dire straits. Buffet's advice? "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful."
Mark Cuban: This successful entrepreneur-turned-billionaire sold his first company, MicroSolutions, at the tender age of 31. He spent his 20s living on the cheap and building up the company that would make his first millions. In his book, "How to Win at the Sport of Business," Cuban admitted to sharing a cramped apartment with bunch of friends, sometimes having to sleep on the couch or the floor to put money toward his business. Cuban basically gave up the luxuries of life in his 20s to set the stage for a lifetime of successful investing and business dealings down the road.
Daymond John: We can't forget Daymond John, who like Cuban is a "shark" on the entrepreneur show "Shark Tank." John started his famous clothing line, FUBU, in his mom's home in Queens, New York City. Because John started his business with about $40 worth of material and was consistently denied business loans, he relied on celebrities like singers and rappers to sport his clothing in music videos. The big break for FUBU came when LL Cool J not only wore a FUBU hat on a Gap commercial he was hired for but also rapped about it as part of the commercial.