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Don’t Be Afraid To Start Small: Businesses You Never Knew Would Take Off

Although capital is essential for any business, millions of entrepreneurs worldwide have established massive enterprises without the help of investors, including Google and Amazon—where you can trace their origins back to working in humble garages, basements, and carports in the suburbs all over the world.

From Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack building a functioning computer in a basement to Bill Gates and Paul Allen developing a revolutionary software in a garage, anyone can achieve anything even if you start small. To prove that you don’t need millions to make it big—here are more successful businesses that started from nothing, and no one anticipated to take off.

Hewlett-Packard (HP)

Hewlett Packard, known as ‘HP,’ was the pioneering technology startup formed in a small garage. Its founders Bill Hewlett and David Packard launched the company with only a small capital of $538 back in 1939. It received recognition thanks to its first success product—an audio oscillator. Since then, they’ve extended to all kinds of electronics and eventually started manufacturing computers in 1966.

Today, HP has grown into one of the world’s biggest IT companies, employing over 300,000 employees and having a revenue of over $126 billion.


Ingvar Kamprad founded a world-renowned furniture retail company IKEA in 1943 in the Swede town of Älmhult, where it started as a mail-order business with a small sum of cush his father gave him as a reward for doing well in his high school exams. The teen managed to transform the humble mail-order business into a giant enterprise boasting thousands of branches globally and annual sales of over $40 billion.

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A writer and two teachers decided to start a small business in Seattle selling coffee beans with their own money in 1971. One of their closest connections was Alfred Peet, the founder of one of the most popular coffee shops back then, from whom they bought their coffee from in their first year of operations. However, their small coffee beaner seller company only took off when Howard Schultz joined their company in 1982 when Starbucks coffee shops started emerging in Seattle.

Since then, the small business grew into one of the largest chains of coffee shops worldwide, boasting over 20,000 stores today across 55 countries.


William Harley and Arthur Davidson managed to assemble the first authentic Harley-Davidson motorcycle in 1904 in a tiny shed located in the Davidson household’s backyard in Milwaukee. What started as a hobby for both petrol heads became one of the largest multi-billion dollar motorcycle firms globally, having several factories across the United States, India, Brazil, Thailand, and Australia.

United Parcel Service (UPS)

In the early 1900s, Seattle messenger or mail boys James Case and Claude Ryan borrowed $100 to launch their small delivery business called ‘ American Messenger Company.’ When they experienced massive success, they rebranded their firm in 1919 as the ‘United Parcel Service,’ today’s largest parcel delivery company worldwide, with annual turnovers of over $70 billion.

In today’s modern and technologically advanced world, it’s never been easier to start a business and share it with the world, but with millions of small businesses failing each year, you may be more than hesitant to bring your idea to life. However, just take note from these inspirational businesses that you don’t need millions to start, and anyone can succeed even if you start small.

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