It served as the capital for an empire that controlled over two thirds of the globe. For centuries it has been at the centre of global commerce and continues to play a pivotal role today. Wall Street is waning, and China’s growth is in decline, it’s stock market wobbly. Meanwhile London continues to attract record amounts of wealthy investors and property speculators.
There’s a reason for this. While Angela Merkel may attest that Frankfurt is the true economic centre of Europe, there is one deciding factor that Frankfurt is clearly missing – London’s “Can-Do” attitude.
In this article we’re going to look at just some of the entrepreneurs who exemplify it, including those who started from nothing to build huge global businesses.
Rags To Riches
Excluding inheritance from a very wealthy relative, or beating the odds of a lottery win, nobody becomes an instant millionaire. To make it big takes lots of hard work and dedication.
Of course luck also plays a key role – having the right idea, at the right time in the right place. At least in London the third factor, being in the right place, is never an issue. Because, whatever your idea might be, financial, cultural, tech-based or otherwise, London is such a huge, thriving melting pot that it’s always the right place!
A cliché persists of the cockney wheeler-dealer, the classic Delboy archetype, but the fact is London is precisely the place where you can start a small business from a small van and go on to become a millionaire. Or, in the case of our first entrepreneurial superstar, a billionaire.
With savings of just £50 Lord Sugar started an electronics import business, Amstrad, in 1968. Within two years he was manufacturing his own products. By 1980 he was listed on the London stock exchange, his company poised to become one of the leaders of the microcomputer revolution. Today Lord Sugar is best known as the star of the UK version of The Apprentice. His current net worth is estimated at £1.4 billion.
Another Londoner who hustled his way to the top is Richard Branson. With a current net worth of around $5 billion, Branson turned a student magazine, and £300 in start-up funds, into the multi-billion pound Virgin empire. He started selling records by mail order before going on to open his first Virgin records store. It was to be the first of many, and the first of a long line of ventures – from mobile phones to airlines and even space colonisation – to bear the Virgin name.
Sir Phillip Green was born in Croydon and, with seed capital of £20,000, started his fashion import business. He went from importing jeans from Asia to becoming the boss of Arcadia Group, which owns major high street retailers such as Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Topshop. Today his net worth is estimated at £5 billion.
Parallels can be found in the story of Mike Ashley, founder of another high street fixture, Sports Direct. Ashley left school at 16 before opening his first store in 1982 with a loan of £10,000. The company soon went international and allowed Ashley to snap up other sports brands including Dunlop and Kangol, not to mention his 2007 purchase of Newcastle United. Today his wealth is estimated to be around $6 billion US.
From £20 To £1.1 Billion
One of the most inspiring stories of all, however, has to be that of Cypriot immigrant Christos Lazari. The late Lazari left his native Cyprus when he was just 16 and arrived in Britain with just £20 in his pocket. He worked as a dishwasher while earning money to study fashion. The transition to fashion proved profitable, though it was his later investments, in real estate, that would earn him is true fortune – valued at around £1.1 billion.
Forget New York, It’s Got To Be London
If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. And, as seen, you can do it with as little as £20 to your name!
Above is just a small selection of entrepreneurs who turned their small businesses into massive global brands with massive fortunes to match. Every day more and more like-minded entrepreneurs are hard at work looking to follow in their footsteps. If you wish to do likewise then the best place to be is London!