5 Great Historical Figures That Every Entrepreneur Should Study

By on May 14, 2013
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Napoleon Bonaparte

We can learn much about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur by studying great figures from history.

Below are 5 that possessed attributes that made them great during their time. Attributes that will also help us find success today.





Napoleon Bonaparte

Acquiring Knowledge

Napolean BonaparteKnowledge is power. No one demonstrated, or knew this better than Napoleon Bonaparte. At the time of his birth, a person’s future was practically laid out for them depending on what class they were born in to.

Napoleon wasn’t born into a family of wealth or prestige, actually the opposite. He was born on the conquered island of Corsica, to a family with no influence or power, yet he grew to become the most powerful man on the planet.


How did Napoleon do this?

While his classmates at college partied, Napoleon read. Books became his love, the object of his affection. His lust for knowledge eventually served him on the battlefield. Napoleon’s ability to size up a battle and determine the best way to defeat the enemy was uncanny because it was as if he’d seen every battle formation that ever existed in the books he’d read. Nothing could trick him, and no one could out maneuver him.


How does this help the entrepreneur?

We can’t simply do the work, we also need to learn and educate ourselves. We need to understand our message, our goal, and the best possible way to accomplish it.

A large portion of our hustle should be given to the acquiring of knowledge. The more we know, the better equipped we are to find success.


Thomas Edison


Thomas EdisonThomas Edison failed more than 10,000 times in his attempt to create the light bulb. He, however, didn’t see those failures as failures, but rather as positive steps towards his goal.

Every entrepreneur will face failure and tribulation, those who succeed will be those who persist.




Winston Churchill

Sticking To Your Guns

Winston ChurchillWe need to know our core values; those things that we hold most important in life. We also have to follow our gut. When Churchill thought something to be true  – whether it was or not – he stuck to his guns.

The leader of a company needs to do the same, as does the leader of a country, and an entrepreneur. We have a vision, we need to stick to that vision.

Does that mean we don’t listen to others? Of course not. Counsel is always welcome, and needed to get out of a rut, or to see things in a different light. But it’s our vision and dream we’re trying to create, and we need to be in line with our values. As a company grows, it’s easy to move away from our values, but it’s those values that led to growth. And it’s those values that will keep us true to our original vision and purpose.


Theodore Roosevelt

Embracing the Struggle

Theodore RooseveltTeddy Roosevelt accomplished more in his 60 years than many would accomplish in 160. He embraced the strenuous life, as he called it.

Hard work isn’t something Teddy feared, but actively pursued.

As an entrepreneur, hard work needs to be your best friend, and laziness your worst enemy. A life of ease isn’t what an entrepreneur will get, probably ever. They’re always creating, innovating and working. But what you will get is freedom.



William Wallace

Do What Others Think is Impossible

William WallaceBefore the light bulb existed, no one could even comprehend that we could flip a switch that would light up a room. It’s the people that at least try the impossible, while others prefer to remain in comfort, that history treats kindly.

William Wallace, in his defiance of tyranny, fought an impossible battle against an enemy too great to defeat. Well, guess what? Wallace’s bravery and courage in the face of an impossible enemy, eventually led to the freedom of his nation.

No matter how great the obstacle, whether it even seems possible, or not, an entrepreneur will do his best to conquer it, and defeat it.

Impossible isn’t in an entrepreneur’s vocabulary. Keep that in mind. Whatever you’re doing right now, no matter how rough the road may seem, nothing is impossible. An entrepreneur is simply here to show the rest of us this universal truth.


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About The Author: Chad Howse

Chad Howse is the creator of Be Legendary, a company dedicated to helping guys experience greatness in Fitness, Work, & Life. Chad has been featured in Men's Health, Men's Fitness, and Shape magazines, and is a contributor to the Art of Manliness, and Addicted2Success.


  1. Dirk McKenzie (@LetMeBuildYou)

    June 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    I love the article, just partly dont agree with the statement of knowledge is power. Knowledge when correctly applied is power. Just mere knowledge means nothing. When you apply it, then you leverage that power.

    • Joel

      June 13, 2013 at 3:52 am

      You got it Dirk, Knowledge with action is Power! And Napoleon proved that to the world.

      • anthony

        June 17, 2013 at 7:51 pm

        but without the knowledge you would never know which action to take ergo knowledge is power, don’t make something simple complex, it ruins it

        • E.G. Sebastian

          July 16, 2013 at 6:02 pm

          Knowledge in itself is NOT power! There are many people who Know, yet they do not take action – there’s no power in that… Knowledge is great! But without action is POWERLESS!
          (sorry, don’t mean to yell with the all caps – just trying to emphasize some basic “truth”)

          • Raynier The Sensay (@RaynierMyers)

            October 3, 2013 at 2:05 am

            I must say I agree with Dirk, E.G. and Joel, I realized this at a very young age growing up a pioneer of the social media era how easily accessible knowledge was in the 21st century through our phones and laptops… you could KNOW a lot – there is a barrier between mental and physical reality and that is transfusing KNOW into DO. Knowledge is a seed… water and sunlight and tending to this seed is what makes it worthy.

  2. Gil

    June 22, 2013 at 7:57 am

    First we think we can do something then we believe we can do something yet once we know we can do something, it gets done. We all do what we know, their is almost zero separation between the two.

  3. Ashley DeGear

    July 1, 2013 at 5:14 am

    They should remove Thomas Edison -.- Edison was a thief

    • Manuel Reyes

      December 3, 2013 at 6:03 am

      Ashley, that’s true. Why i’d replace Tesla with Edison.

  4. LudvigSunström

    January 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Great post Chad. Keep up the good work!

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