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Four Young Entrepreneurs Who Changed the World — Could this be you?

We all need a role model…an example to follow…someone whose ways we can copy.

Try red, kinky-haired Paul Orfalea. When he opened shop with one self-service copy machine and a few school supplies just after graduating college in the early ’70’s, his store soon became so crowded with students clamoring to make copies, he was forced to move the machine to the sidewalk. And beyond.

As Orfalea charged his friends with opening similar shops on other street corners, the concept spread and the company grew.

This once-young entrepreneur gave the company his own nickname, Kinko’s. And three decades later, Orfalea has retired a wealthy man who generously supports other young entrepreneurs attending his alma mater, the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

Feel like having Chinese food?

Jeno Paulucci, the son of poor Italian immigrants, did.

After returning from a trip in the Pacific where he had developed a taste for chow mein, Paulucci created his own brand – using an Americanized recipe — and the rest is Chun King history.

But you also know the name Jeno from those famous pizzas and pizza rolls in the frozen-foods aisle. Luigino’s and Michelina’s brands are his creations as well.

Paulucci, now 84, calls entrepreneurship his "sport," and has said he’s having so much fun bringing products to the American consumer, he has no plans to retire.

Forever youthful

Boundless energy and optimism are what defines the young entrepreneur, no matter the age, according to entrepreneur Jennifer Lawton, who founded her own computer networking and consulting firm and works with the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (www.yeo.org), a global, non-profit educational organization for business owners under age 40.

"Where others see dark clouds and storm fronts, [entrepreneurs see] situations that will create new views and expanded thinking," Lawton wrote in her article, "What’s youth got to do with it? (www.entreworld.org)"

From brown to green

Like the day twenty-something Jim Casey tried to get a loan for his struggling American Messenger Company that he’d started in his basement in 1907. The bank officer turned him down, but gave Casey this tip: "Determined people can do anything."

Nice tip. United Parcel Service and its legendary brown UPS trucks were born of this advice, and Casey, if alive today, would be proud of not only his company’s balance sheet, but also its long list of firsts in the industry.

Fast forward

Lauren Hefferon knew at a very young age that she would turn her passion for cycling into something big. Today, she and her husband run a thriving bicycle tour business, Ciclismo Classico, that offers guided bicycle tours in Italy and pulls in $2.6 million in annual sales.

For the creative and enterprising Hefferon, there have been the occasional bumps in the proverbial road — the inevitable trials of running a business in a foreign country. But this young entrepreneur remains committed to her mission…to transform lives through active travel.

Rearview mirror

Computer consultant Lawton says all entrepreneurs, young or old, possess this ability to "see a longer road in front of him or her than behind."

Still, with success stories like these, you can’t help but be inspired by those who have gone before you.

© 2008, Young Money Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

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