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The Early Business Pursuits of Bezos, Buffett, and Other Legends

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They say everyone has to start somewhere.

And for legends like Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Estée Lauder, and Richard Branson – well, they got into the money-making game early.

From hawking golf balls to bootstrapping student magazines, many of these iconic entrepreneurs started their very first businesses in their childhood or teenage years. Not all of these enterprises fared well, but they did give these eventual magnates an early taste of the startup life.

Childhood Ambition

Today’s infographic comes to us from Colonial Life, and it showcases the early endeavors of ten successful business greats:

The Early Business Pursuits of Bezos, Buffett, and Other Legends

While some business greats weren’t afraid to get started later on, people like Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos had an entrepreneurial drive at a very early age.

It likely drove their parents wild, but it seems that hitting the ground running ended up paying off in the long run.

Entrepreneurial Early Years

How did famous entrepreneurs get their feet wet in business? It generally falls into two categories.

1. Work With What You Have

People like Warren Buffett, Ingvar Kamprad, and Daymond John worked with what they had, finding the easiest route into business possible.

Buffett sold golf balls, built an ambitious newspaper route, and sold gum. Meanwhile, Ingvar Kamprad marked up wholesale matches to sell them to neighbors for a profit, while Daymond John personalized pencils in his school classes.

The lesson here? Sometimes the first opportunities you see are not glorious game-changers – instead, you need to apply hard work and creativity to a widely available opportunity and grind it out.

2. Early Passions Realized

On the other hand, entrepreneurs like Michael Dell, Max Levchin, Kevin Plank, and Estée Lauder realized their passions early, and these initial childhood ambitions were linked to their later careers.

Dell and Levchin were both involved in computers early – either building them or programming on them – and would both start renowned tech companies (Dell and Paypal) in their adult lives. Kevin Plank of Under Armour was in the apparel business early, selling t-shirts at local concerts, and Estée Lauder was selling cosmetics to her friends that were made by her chemist uncle.

Want other useful hints from the world’s best? Take a look at the Habits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs.

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Markets

Top 10 Countries Most in Debt to the IMF

Argentina tops the ranking, with a debt equivalent to 5.3% of the country’s GDP.

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Bar chart showing the 10 countries most in debt to the IMF.

Top 10 Countries Most in Debt to the IMF

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Established in 1944, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) supports countries’ economic growth by providing financial aid and guidance on policies to enhance stability, productivity, and job opportunities.

Countries seek loans from the IMF to address economic crises, stabilize their currencies, implement structural reforms, and alleviate balance of payments difficulties.

In this graphic, we visualize the 10 countries most indebted to the fund.

Methodology

We compiled this ranking using the International Monetary Fund’s data on Total IMF Credit Outstanding. We selected the latest debt data for each country, accurate as of April 29, 2024.

Argentina Tops the Rank

Argentina’s debt to the IMF is equivalent to 5.3% of the country’s GDP. In total, the country owns more than $32 billion.

CountryIMF Credit Outstanding ($B)GDP ($B, 2024)IMF Debt as % of GDP
🇦🇷 Argentina32604.35.3
🇪🇬 Egypt11347.63.1
🇺🇦 Ukraine9188.94.7
🇵🇰 Pakistan7374.71.8
🇪🇨 Ecuador6121.64.9
🇨🇴 Colombia3386.10.8
🇦🇴 Angola392.13.2
🇰🇪 Kenya3104.02.8
🇬🇭 Ghana275.22.6
🇨🇮 Ivory Coast286.92.3

A G20 member and major grain exporter, the country’s history of debt trouble dates back to the late 1890s when it defaulted after contracting debts to modernize the capital, Buenos Aires. It has already been bailed out over 20 times in the last six decades by the IMF.

Five of the 10 most indebted countries are in Africa, while three are in South America.

The only European country on our list, Ukraine has relied on international support amidst the conflict with Russia. It is estimated that Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country caused the loss of a third of the country’s economy. The country owes $9 billion to the IMF.

In total, almost 100 countries owe money to the IMF, and the grand total of all of these debts is $111 billion. The above countries (top 10) account for about 69% of these debts.

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