A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; even the biggest businesses in the world had to start somewhere.

Some have more humble origins than others, having started with only the most rudimentary equipment, few employees and offices in a loft conversion or garage.


Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or you’re running an established home business, the stories below are a great source of inspiration.


People will camp out for days in order to buy the latest iGadget, but you may find it hard to believe that at one time Apple was a small fish in a big pond.

The company started in 1976 when Ronald Wayne, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs set up shop in a Cupertino, California garage. Over the next 30+ years, Apple introduced several pioneering tech products such as the Macintosh computer and the iPod. Today, Apple has over 50,000 workers and earns an estimated $14 billion per year.


You may think of Google when you think of Internet search engines, but they got their start in a garage in Menlo Park, California not that long ago (1998). For its first five months, the three-person staff worked from those cramped quarters to sharpen their search algorithm and index countless web pages.

By 1999, the company got too big for its original headquarters, and moved into what’s now called the Googleplex. In 2006, Google bought the garage and has preserved it as a testimonial to their small beginnings.

HP (Hewlett Packard)

In 1939, Bill Hewlett and David Packard started an electronics manufacturing business in a Palo Alto, California garage. On their initial $538 investment, the two men were instrumental in the establishment of Silicon Valley.

When HP started they made a range of products, but by the 1960s they narrowed their focus to tech products only. The HP of today is one of the biggest electronics companies in the world, and they make some of the best personal computers available. Like Google, HP preserved the garage where it got its start.


Jeff Bezos founded the company in 1994 in his garage, being inspired in part by HP’s less-than-grand beginnings. Amazon had a strong start, growing out of its headquarters very quickly. Today, Amazon is one of the world’s largest online retailers, selling everything from groceries to music downloads and earning billions each year.


Paul Allen and Bill Gates founded the tech giant in 1975, with a small garage space and scant resources. Unlike chief competitor Apple, Microsoft focused exclusively on software development.

In conjunction with IBM, Microsoft licensed its first operating system for only $80,000. The company went on to develop the nearly ubiquitous Windows OS, and to develop into the computing market’s dominant force.

The companies above, plus many more, prove that you don’t need millions of dollars and spacious headquarters to be successful. With little money, spaces in garages and loft conversions and nothing more than a big idea, an entrepreneur can start small and end up a billionaire.