What is it that morphs an aspiring entrepreneur into a multi-billion dollar business owner? Is it incredible educational credentials? Is it graduating from Yale in the top five-percent of the class? Is it pursuing an MBA?
Although possessing a strong educational background is great, would have to say no. The most important aspect to becoming a successful entrepreneur is not educational credentials, but rather, ambition and the desire to be great. We have conducted a list of the top entrepreneurs who did not posses a college diploma. Others didn't even finish high school.
To all aspiring entrepreneurs out there: if you need a little motivation or inspiration to get out there and start up your own company, take a look at this list.
To all struggling entrepreneurs out there: if you feel down on your luck and are struggling to keep your business afloat, take a look at this list.
To all college-, high school- and elementary school-dropouts who feel as if they have no direction in life, take a look at the list.
And finally, to anyone who has failed in their life, take a look at this list:
Henry Ford | Ford Motor Company | Dropped out at 16
Henry Ford is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the history of the United States. Ironically, Ford dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen. With his invention of the modern assembly line used in mass production as well as his development of the Model T automobile, Ford was worth $188 billion dollars (in 2009 dollars) without even completing highschool.
Bill Gates | Microsoft | Dropped out at 19
Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard at the age of nineteen. While attending school, Gates was more interested in playing around with many of the school's computers. After slacking off in school, Gates dropped out, started his own computer software company with Paul Allen, and eventually made $59 billion.
Michael Dell | Dell Computers | Dropped out at 19
Michael Dell dropped out of the University of Texas at age 19 after he founded Dell Computers from his very own dorm room. Today, Dell is among the top ten wealthiest Americans and holds a personal wealth of about $17.3 billion.
Paul Allen | Microsoft | Dropped out at 20
Paul Allen, with help from Bill Gates, became interested in computers while in college. After his second year at Washington State University, he dropped out to work as a programmer in Boston. He later convinced Gates to drop out of college as well. How much is he worth today? $16 billion.
Steve Jobs | Apple | Dropped out at 18
Steve Jobs graduated from high school and attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon. After his first year, he dropped out to begin work with Steve Wozniak. Today he is worth $5.4 billion.
Mark Zuckerberg | Facebook | Dropped out at 19
Mark Zuckerberg is known as today's most successful college dropout. A co-founder to the ever-popular social media site, Facebook, Zuckerberg launched this site from his Harvard dorm room and dropped out shortly after. His current personal wealth is about $4 billion.
David Geffen | Geffen Records | Dropped out at 21
After attending three different colleges, and dropping out of all of them, David Geffen founded his own record company, Geffen Records and is worth $6.5 billion today.
Larry Ellison | Oracle | Dropped out at 20
Lawrence Joseph "Larry" Ellison, the sixth richest person in the world, left the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in his second year. He dropped out because his adopted mother had died and he skipped all of his final exams. In the 1970s he developed Oracle, a database for the CIA, and has made $27 billion.
Sheldon Adelson | Las Vegas Sands Corp. | Dropped out at 19
Sheldon Adelson was an entrepreneur from his early years in which he sold toiletry kits and started his own charter bus system. Later in life, Adelson dropped out of City College of New York and founded the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Today his wealth is $26 billion.
Richard Branson | Virgin | Dropped out at 16
One of this list's youngest dropouts, Richard Branson suffered from dyslexia and had poor academic performance as a student. He later discovered his ability to connect with others. Without letting his disabilities get to him, Branson founded the Virgin brand (a brand of over 360 companies) and is worth $4.4 billion.
And if this list doesn't satisfy you enough, take a look at the numerous other million-dollar entrepreneurs who did not successfully complete high school:
• Anne Beiler (Auntie Ann's Pretzels)
• Walt Disney (The Walt Disney Company)
• Mary Kay Ash (Mary Kay Inc.)
• Dov Charney (American Apparel)
• Charles Culpeper (Coca Cola)
• George Eastman (Kodak)
• Joyce C. Hall (Hallmark)
• Richard Schulze (Best Buy)
• Wally Amos (Famous Amos)
• Hyman Golden (Snapple)
• Rachel Ray (Food Network Star) never even went to culinary school
• Kemmons Wilson (Holiday Inn)
• Coco Chanel (Chanel)
• Carl Lindner (United Dairy Farmers)
• Jimmy Dean (Jimmy Dean Foods)
Or take a look at Joe Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods. He dropped out of college six times.
Or what's even more impressive—our list of four successful entrepreneurs who dropped out of elementary school.
• Henry Royce (Rolls-Royce)
• Milton Hershey (Hershey's Milk Chocolate) did not finish 4th grade
• Colonel Harlan Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken) also did not finish 4th grade
• Thomas Edison (inventor of the lightbulb) stopped school at age 12
So whether you're a worried parent, a worried entrepreneur, a worried college dropout, or anyone who feels as if they will fail; never give up. All of the people mentioned above gave their products and ideas their all. Even when all odds are against you, sometimes it only takes a little ambition, desire, passion, and sweat to become a success.