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Five Self-Made Billionaire Women on What it Takes to Be Successful

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A dose of inspiration for entrepreneurs-and those that want to be

Being an entrepreneur isn't easy. From the late nights to the crippling setbacks, the cash flow challenges to the many hats you wear, it takes a strength that most people don't know they have to hang in there and push forward.

So, sometimes, it's nice to hear from others that have been there and done that before you.

If you're looking for a quick injection of optimism, the following quotes from five billionaire women entrepreneurs are sure to pick you up. Each one started from nothing and built their empires from the ground up. It can be done, and they're living proof.

On not letting inexperience stop you from starting

Sara Blakely, Founder, Spanx

Sara is the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. Her company sells over 200 products in over 20 countries. She started her company sellingtrimming undergarments with no knowledge of how the fashion industry worked, investing all of her $5,000 in savings.

Sara's story is an inspiration for women who want to start their own business but don't feel like they can because they don't know what they're doing.

If you don't let not knowing what you're doing intimidate you, it's amazing what you can do…Throughout the whole journey of Spanx, not knowing how it was done remained such a gift to me. Once I landed Neiman Marcus and started meeting all of these other people in the industry that said, 'How did you did you get into Neiman's?' And I would say, 'I called them. Why, what do you do?' They say, 'Well, there's trade shows.' I said, 'I didn't even know there were trade shows.'

When women are entrepreneurs, they're in charge of their own destiny, and the research shows that they help so much more then themselves. They help their community, and when they're given the opportunity to fulfill their own potential, we all benefit greatly.

For more of Sara's story, watch this wonderful video on Makers.

Failure is an essential component of success

J.K. Rowling, Author, Harry Potter series

Rowling probably need no introduction. As the world-famous author of the beloved Harry Potter series, she went from being a single mother living on state support to a billionaire author. She talks about her success stemming from her failures, including initial rejections by publishers. Indeed, failure is something all entrepreneurs have to become familiar with-and learn from.

Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all-in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.

Read more about Rowling's story here.

On taking responsibility for your own future

Oprah Winfrey, founder of lots of thing

If you don't know who Oprah is, you've been living under a rock! In a world where many women rely on others, a husband, boyfriend, or boss, to secure their financial future, Oprah offers inspiration-and a challenge-to ladies to take control of their own future.

I've always had the deep understanding for myself, that if anything was going to move forward in my life, that I was going to have to be responsible for making that happen…You are responsible for your life, and if you're sitting around waiting on somebody to save you, to fix you, to even help you, you are wasting your time because only you have the power to take responsibility to move your life forward. And the sooner you get that, the sooner your life get's into gear.

Hear Oprah speak more on this in this great video .

On being a great mom and running a billion-dollar empire

Zhang Xin, founder of SOHO China

A lot of women are worried that running a business will conflict with their ability to take care of their family and be the mothers and wives they want to be. Xin is living proof that it can be done and that family is no excuse. Raised with little money in communist China, Xin, after studying in Britain and working in commercial banking, moved back to China to found a real estate empire. Today, she is worth $2 billion. But she doesn't let running a multi-billion-dollar company get the way of being a great mom and wife.

I don't do evening business dinners and I don't do weekends…We don't do too much socializing. On the weekends I do the usual parental things, going to the boys' football tournaments or getting out for a hike along the Great Wall.

Read more about Xin's amazing entrepreneurial story here.

My children are very young, so they require a lot of my presence. I try to take only short trips, or when I have to make long trips, I always take them with me. Sometimes it is a little inconvenient, but all in all it works out. Like the May (Labor Day) holidays for instance. The children have two weeks of holiday and I needed to be in the US to speak at the Harvard China Review and then the Asia Society in New York. So I took them along. Some days we work and some days we play; I am so used to mixing all these trips together.

From Women at the Top.

On a higher purpose for starting a company that money

Weili Dai, Founder of Marvell Technology

Dai, an immigrant who came to America knowing hardly any English is a self-made billionaire on one of the hardest industries for women-tech. The company she co-founded, Marvell Technology, is one of the largest in the world for its industry and her personal wealth is reported to be $720 million.

Yet, Dai is clear that she was never in it just for the money. Rather she followed her passions and had a clear purpose that carried her forward in her entrepreneurial dreams. The byproduct was wealth.

Everybody needs to have a good sense of pride as they think about how they impact people, the world, their industry. They have to take a deep breath and ask, 'Is this something that makes me proud? Am I making a positive impact?' Why do I say this? Because you have to think long term. It's about doing business in a beautiful way.

Read more at "Conducting Greatness".

Original publish date: March 31, 2016

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