Businesses that will inspire you to go it alone

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Whether you’re looking to be the next Steve Jobs, or perhaps you just want your side-hustle to be your main source of income, “mighty oaks from little acorns grow”. It’s easy to forget that these hugely successful brands often had humble beginnings. To help you keep going with your dream of going it alone, here are our favourite brands that have navigated the hard-realities of start-up life and have flourished into leading businesses.


Perhaps the most well-known and most loved business in the world, The Walt Disney Company was founded in 1923 by Walt and his brother Roy, after Walt dropped out of school and was rejected by the army. Their first film studio was his uncle’s garage. Finding minor fame with a little known mouse – originally named Mortimer, Disney shot to fame with the critically acclaimed feature film Snow White.


Just like Disney, the world’s largest retailer started by Jeff Bezos in 1994 began life in his garage. Initially starting as an online bookstore, Bezos has the idea after hearing about the rise in internet use. They then expanded operations into a two-bedroom house, and eventually developed a test site for selling online. The Amazon we know today, went live in 1997, three years after his original idea. 20 years later, Amazon is now worth an estimated $300 billion.


Known the world-over as a great British brand, Radley was actually the concept of Australian architect Lowell Harder. Following an unexpected visit from her cousin returning from India with some tan leather bags, Lowell turned her eye for design, and started creating boho inspired bags instead of buildings. Selling the bags on a Camden market stall under the name “Hidesign” in the 1980s, Radley wasn’t actually launched until 1998.

Pip & Nut

If you’re a fan of peanut butter, you’ll have heard of this organic brand. Founded in 2013 by Pip, she started making her own nut butters in a food mixer from home. This was because at the time the majority of nut butters in supermarkets were packed full of sugars and oils. She started selling her homemade nut butters at London’s Maltby Street Market every weekend. A year later, Pip started crowdfunding, and in 2015 Pip & Nut was launched in Selfridges.

Myroo Skincare

Founded by skincare expert Rachael Dunseath from her kitchen in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Rachael had spent years being plagued by her sensitive skin and allergies and was looking for natural skincare remedies, and so started creating her own. Because all Myroo products are 100% plant based they are the UK’s first totally free from skincare brand and are often featured in magazines such as Hello! and Marie Claire.

Starting a business isn’t easy, and as demonstrated by these leading brands success rarely happens overnight. Instead hard-work, determination, and an element of luck often play their part. But hang on in there, the businesses that succeed don’t set out to reinvent the wheel, they merely repackage and repurpose.