How 3 top UK entrepreneurs succeeded


It can very often seem like the most successful people around got a leg up somewhere: family money or college connections (or both) to help get a foot in the door of their chosen profession.

But more and more, we’re hearing stories of people whose humble beginnings lit a flame under them, helping them get to the top end of their professions.

There are plenty of successful self-made entrepreneurs who came from nothing

Take Hilary Devey, who you might know from Dragon’s Den.

She dropped out of school at 16 after her dad declared bankruptcy, and only set up Pall-EX after two failed marriages, selling her house to fund her business.

Or Halle Berry, Oscar winner and Bond girl: while she tried to make it in Hollywood, she slept in homeless shelters because she couldn’t afford her rent.

Even Ed Sheeran, multi-millionaire singer-songwriter, started out very down on his luck, describing himself as a “homeless busker” in the years before he became a regular fixture in the top 10.

It’s not just A-listers, either – here are some stories of very ordinary folk who started out at the bottom and made it all the way to the top, all thanks to their own hard graft.

Linda Bennett OBE

Thanks to Kate Middleton and her love of a nude heel, LK Bennett is a household name today – but it was little more than a dream when a 28-year-old Linda Bennett opened her first shop in Wimbledon in 1990.

Bennett had studied Land Management at Reading University before studying shoemaking at London College of Fashion.

Her first shop was set up thanks to a £15,000 bank loan; today, her estimated fortune is a whopping £65 million.

Rita Sharma

Now the richest female Asian entrepreneur in Britain, Rita Sharma’s origin story is the entrepreneurial cliché, she really did start her business out of her garage.

Sharma is a college dropout who founded her business with just £4,000 and a lot of determination.

Today, her agency Worldwide Travels, along with its online arm,, does business totalling £100 million each year.

Rob Stone

Father of nine Rob Stone was “drowning in debt” and selling his belongings to make ends meet when he had the idea for Instaloft, which is now the UK’s largest installer of loft solutions.

His start-up capital? A wish, a prayer and £200 on a credit card.

Now, he is predicted to reach a £30 million turnover in the next three years and he’s pledging to give back, by helping would-be entrepreneurs on their own journey to success.

What do they all have in common?

Hard work and determination, sure – but they all chose to get up and get started, at a time when success was anything but guaranteed.

Here are some new roles to get you up, out the door and on the road to your ideal future.

Plus, there are lots more available on the Job Board.

Store Leader, WH Smith

The Job: The Store Leader will work in the Chiswick High Street store to lead the shop’s retail team. 

What You’ll Do: You’ll oversee the day-to-day running of the WH Smith store, energising and motivating your team and delivering optimal customer service.

You’ll Need: Retail experience, at least six months of which is in a supervisory role, along with working knowledge of KPIs such as ATV and TPC and strong communication and relational skills.

Apply Now: Check out this Store Leader role now, and see other roles at WH Smith here.

Retail Skin Therapist, Dermalogica

The Job: Based in Fenwick at Brent Cross, the Retail Skin Therapist will offer a personalised experience to customers.

What You’ll Do: You’ll perform Dermalogica treatments in store, offer bespoke skin care and treatment plans and perform to monthly targets.

You’ll Need: A completed NVQ 3 Beauty Therapy qualification (or equivalent) is required, training in beauty electrical and ideally some experience in a sales advisor role.

Apply Now: See all the details for the Retail Skin Therapist role and more roles at Dermalogica here.

Account Manager at The Forward Trust

The Job: The Account Manager will engage and support prospective employees through The Forward Trust, a vocational training, skills, apprenticeships and employability provider.

What You’ll Do: You’ll be sourcing job vacancies and supporting the placement of people into appropriate vacancies and interviews.

You’ll Need: Ideally, you’ll have experience in a sales or similar role engaging employers, excellent communication skills and knowledge of the local labour market in the London and South East areas.

Apply Now: Apply for this Account Manager role and see what other roles are available at The Forward Trust here.

Check out HOAR Job Board for thousands of jobs to help you further your career journey.