Skip to Content

12 Entrepreneurs & Business Role Models to Draw Inspiration from

Do you have a role model? Who inspires you? When you find yourself in certain situations; who’s thinking pattern and strategy do you adopt? While I may not know your role models; I want to share mine with you.

I have several role models covering every field of life I have interest in but I will be limiting this article to just my entrepreneurial role models. I will be sharing in this article a list of entrepreneurs and business role models that inspire me the most. This list comprises of some successful entrepreneurs and drop out billionaires who are quite famous.

In addition to listing their names, I will also be highlighting the specific influence or impact they’ve had on my life. If you are an entrepreneur and you don’t have a role model; then I will advice you find one because your entrepreneurial role model can be a great source of inspiration.

 12 Famous Entrepreneurs and Business Role Models You can Draw Inspiration from

Before I proceed with the list of my entrepreneurial role models; I want to acknowledge the greatest entrepreneur I’ve ever known. This entrepreneur has been my greatest source of inspiration; this entrepreneur is no other person than my beloved mother, Angela Ajaero.

I once watched my mom’s retail store at Balogun, Lagos Island go up in flames and goods worth millions were destroyed by the inferno. I personally broke the news of the tragedy to her while she was chatting with a close friend; but all my mom did was smile. When I broke the news, I expected her to break down in tears so I prepared myself to comfort her but my mom surprised me; not a single tear dropped from her eyes.

Most importantly, my mom diligently and courageously started building a business again from scratch; I really admire the courage she put up in the face of adversity. Today, whenever I am faced with a business challenge or trouble; I simply close my eyes and remember the countenance of my mom the day I broke the news of the fire incident to her. Then I will say to myself; “if my mom who happens to be a woman didn’t break down in the face of adversity, why should I?

My mom experience and reaction to situations made her my greatest role model and source of inspiration. Now are there other entrepreneurs who I draw inspiration from? My answer is yes.

1. Larry Ellison – Oracle Corporation

I have tremendous respect for Larry Ellison and he has greatly influenced my life with respect to my goal getting attitude. Whenever I am in pursuit of a goal; I become Larry Ellison because I admire his ambitious spirit and I aspire to build up such level of go getting spirit.

“I think I am very goal oriented. I’d like to win the America’s cup. I’d like Oracle to be the No 1 software company in the world. I still think it is possible to beat Microsoft.” – Larry Ellison

2. Andrew Carnegie – Carnegie Steel

Reading the autobiography of Andrew Carnegie opened up my heart on the need to give back to the society. Andrew Carnegie was known for his philanthropic activities; he’s remembered as the man who gave all away to charity and I think I want to tow that line.

“I resolved to stop accumulating and begin the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution.” – Andrew Carnegie

3. Mike Adenuga – Globacom, Conoil, Equatorial Trust Bank

Mike Adenuga is a Nigerian billionaire but his humility overshadows his wealth. Nothing strikes my heart more than seeing someone influential and wealthy still bowing low. I have heard of the humility of Mike Adenuga but I made up my mind to be like him when I read in the papers that he once went on his knees and laid face down before someone he was far richer than.

4. Ingvar Kamprad – IKEA

To become a successful entrepreneur; you must have high self imposed standard and you must stick to it. This was exactly what I learned from Ingvar Kamprad; founder of IKEA. Ingvar Kamprad has been heavily criticized because of his reputation for “cautious spending.”

Ingvar Kamprad is very cautious of the way he spends money despite the fact that he’s among the richest people in the world and I really respect that resolve. If you have a personal standard, stick to it no matter the criticism.

“I am stingy and I’m proud of the reputation.” – Ingvar Kamprad

“Waste of resources is a mortal sin at IKEA.” – Ingvar Kamprad

5. Aliko Dangote – Dangote Group

Aliko Dangote has always a role model that inspires my spirit. His strong business sense and his determination to support the economy of Nigeria earned him my respect. I also admire his drive and I look forward to replicating his achievements by aggressively investing in my country.

“I enjoy myself a lot but I derive more joy in working. I believe in hard work and one of my business success secrets is hard work. It’s hard to see a youth that will go to bed by 2am and wake up by 5am. I don’t rest until I achieve something.” – Aliko Dangote

6. Richard Branson – Virgin Group

I have been a long admirer of the Virgin Group but my contact with Richard Branson’s autobiography Losing My Virginity increased my respect for him. His competitive spirit and resilience inspires me to take on the giants unafraid.

“To be successful, you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running, and if you have a good team around you and more than a fair share of luck, you might make something happen. But you certainly can’t guarantee it just by following someone else’s formula.” – Richard Branson

7. Ray Kroc – McDonald’s

In the business world, the name “Ray Kroc” is synonymous with persistence. With persistence, Ray Kroc built from a single stand to become the world’s most successful small business. Most times, I use Ray Kroc’s motto “press on” to stir my spirit to action and that’s why he’s on my list of role models.

“Press on; nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. The world is full with educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Ray Kroc

8. Henry Ford – Ford Motor Company

If there’s any reason why Henry Ford is on this list; it’s because he taught me how to fail without failing, he taught me that failure is just a resting place and he proved it by going from two major business failures to becoming one of the richest man in the world. So whenever I am on the verge of failure; I remember the lessons of Henry Ford and use it as an inspiration to stay afloat.

“Failure is just a resting place. It is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

9. Robert Kiyosaki – Rich Dad Company

I don’t think this list will be complete without Robert Kiyosaki; in fact, he is one of my most respected mentors. His teachings and ideas drove me into entrepreneurship; I became an entrepreneur after reading his book “Rich dad Poor Dad.” Today, I am financially literate, financially free and have a stronger control of my life. Thanks to Robert Kiyosaki’s teachings.

“People without financial knowledge, who take advice from financial experts are like lemmings simply following their leader. They race for the cliff and leap into the ocean of financial uncertainty, hoping to swim to the other side.” – Robert Kiyosaki

10. J. Paul Getty – Getty Oil

Entrepreneurship is all about risking your time, energy and resources on a venture with hope of a bigger reward. And there’s no other entrepreneur that emphasizes on the need for entrepreneurs to take risk than J. Paul Getty; the billionaire oil mogul.

“You must take risks, both with your own money or with borrowed money. Risk taking is essential to business growth.” – J. Paul Getty

11. Warren Buffett – Berkshire Hathaway

In the world of business and investing, Warren Buffett happens to be one of the few personalities that have maintained a clean record and it caught my attention. Integrity is a rare character in life but Warren Buffett has maintained the standard and I aspire to be just like him; or even better.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five Minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you will do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

As a final note, these are the 12 entrepreneurs and business role models I seek inspiration from; you can also do the same. Role models, mentors and coaches have a high influence on protégés so take advantage of the opportunity; find a good role model, aspire to be like him/her and I will see you at the top.