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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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Charted: Who Has Savings in This Economy?

Older, better-educated adults are winning the savings game, reveals a January survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

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A cropped chart visualizing the percentage of respondents to the statement “I have money leftover at the end of the month” categorized by sentiment, age, and education qualifications.

Who Has Savings in This Economy?

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.

Two full years of inflation have taken their toll on American households. In 2023, the country’s collective credit card debt crossed $1 trillion for the first time. So who is managing to save money in the current economic environment?

We visualize the percentage of respondents to the statement “I have money leftover at the end of the month” categorized by age and education qualifications. Data is sourced from a National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) report, published last month.

The survey for NEFE was conducted from January 12-14, 2024, by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. It involved 1,222 adults aged 18+ and aimed to be representative of the U.S. population.

Older Americans Save More Than Their Younger Counterparts

General trends from this dataset indicate that as respondents get older, a higher percentage of them are able to save.

AgeAlways/OftenSometimesRarely/Never
18–2929%33%38%
30–4436%27%37%
45–5939%23%38%
Above 6049%28%23%
All Adults39%33%27%

Note: Percentages are rounded and may not sum to 100.

Perhaps not surprisingly, those aged 60+ are the age group with the highest percentage saying they have leftover money at the end of the month. This age group spent the most time making peak earnings in their careers, are more likely to have investments, and are more likely to have paid off major expenses like a mortgage or raising a family.

The Impact of Higher Education on Earnings and Savings

Based on this survey, higher education dramatically improves one’s ability to save. Shown in the table below, those with a bachelor’s degree or higher are three times more likely to have leftover money than those without a high school diploma.

EducationAlways/OftenSometimesRarely/Never
No HS Diploma18%26%56%
HS Diploma28%33%39%
Associate Degree33%31%36%
Bachelor/Higher Degree59%21%20%
All Adults39%33%27%

Note: Percentages are rounded and may not sum to 100.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, earnings improve with every level of education completed.

For example, those with a high school diploma made 25% more than those without in 2022. And as the qualifications increase, the effects keep stacking.

Meanwhile, a Federal Reserve study also found that those with more education tended to make financial decisions that contributed to building wealth, of which the first step is to save.

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