Launching and running a business isn't easy. In fact, it's likely to be one of the most difficult things you’ll do in life, but if you succeed, the rewards will make all the hard work worthwhile.
This is a journey many people have embarked upon before, which means anyone working hard to build a successful company today can learn and take inspiration from the business pioneers and visionaries who preceded them.
Here are some of the most influential entrepreneurs worth following right now, from world-famous figures to some you may not have heard of:
1. Elon Musk
The founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla is someone has become impossible to ignore in the business community and beyond. Active and outspoken on Twitter, Elon Musk is a risk-taker whose willingness to speak his mind sometimes gets him into trouble.
As far as entrepreneurship is concerned, Musk is best-known for being a visionary and for demonstrating what can be achieved with big, bold ideas. His grand visions for the future include the Hyperloop, a proposed high-speed transportation system that could transport people and freight along sealed tubes with minimal air resistance.
"I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary." - Elon Musk.
2. Jen Gotch
The founder of online retailer Ban.do, Jen Gotch has built up a reputation for openness and honesty through her Instagram account, which has more than 230,000 followers. She has been particularly frank about her mental health, having lived with depression since her early 20s.
Last year, Gotch decided to incorporate her private experiences into her company's product range, introducing a line of necklaces that read 'depression', 'bipolar' and 'anxiety'. It was a bold move, with some customers surprised by the shift away from the firm's typically bright, playful products. Others, however, were encouraged to share their own experiences with mental health, and the necklaces sold out in minutes.
Gotch's fresh, innovative approach to business led to her being named one of the 50 most daring entrepreneurs of 2018.
3. Jordan Nazario
Still in his early 20s, Jordan Nazario has already built an impressive track record of entrepreneurship. He’s the founder of Mogul Influence and managing partner at Digilism, a digital solutions firm that works in areas like ecommerce, branding and client acquisition.
One of the characteristics that sets Nazario apart is his focus on inclusivity. Mogul Influence was created to help out other entrepreneurs and college students in making connections with public figures and accessing networks and opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible to them.
"You don't need an Ivy League education or have to be an extrovert that loves to meet new people to be successful." - Jordan Nazario.
4 & 5. Jen Rubio and Steph Korey
Shortly after New York-based luggage company Away featured on the 2018 edition of Forbes' Next Billion Dollar Start-ups list, its founders, Steph Korey and Jen Rubio, saw their firm receive a valuation of $1.4 billion.
They succeeded through innovation and adaptability. When US airlines started banning bags with built-in batteries, Away responded by swapping customers' original battery modules with easily removable ones for free.
Korey and Rubio have set their sights on bigger things than bags, turning their start-up from simply a luggage brand into a travel business, with alternative offerings including a podcast and a quarterly magazine.
6. Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg isn't a new name in the entrepreneur community, of course, but he remains an influential and interesting figure, particularly in the world of social media. After all, can you really afford to ignore the man who created the world's biggest social network?
Zuckerberg has followed in the footsteps of Bill Gates and other tech billionaires by turning his attention to philanthropy and supporting innovative projects outside his own industry. He joined Gates and investor Warren Buffet in signing the Giving Pledge, committing to donate at least half of his wealth to charity over time. His other ventures have included Breakthrough Starshot, a project to develop a fleet of solar-sail spacecraft, which he co-founded with Stephen Hawking and another entrepreneur, Yuri Milner.
He may have already transformed 21st century life with Facebook, but Zuckerberg, still only 35 years old, could yet have bigger contributions to make to the world in the years and decades to come.