Most entrepreneurs are known for shying away from the limelight when it comes to their entrepreneurial work. For example, a survey by Ernst & Young shows more than 66 percent of all entrepreneurs give to charity--but do so in a "silent" or "passive" manner that is not publicized. This is not always the case. When you're a celebrity, your status can do wonders for starting a business, especially when it's centered around fashion or entertainment. Lady Gaga and Beyoncé became household names originally for their music, but also moved into film, clothing, and even technology.

There are a number of other female celebrities-turned-entrepreneurs whose ventures you may not be quite as familiar with, but who are just as impressive. What can be learned from these A-list entrepreneurs? How can you mimic their business decisions to become more successful yourself? You might not have their fame or money (yet), but there are still plenty of lessons to learn from them.

1. Tyra Banks

Banks has been retired from modeling since 2005, but since then she's gone on to become a very successful businesswoman, following in the footsteps of people like Cindy Crawford and Cheryl Tiegs. She's the founder of Bankable Productions and is the executive producer (and host) of America's Next Top Model. She also won an Emmy for her talk show, and it seems the business world agrees with her. She's a novelist and began studying at Harvard Business School in 2011. She proves it's never too late to go back to school or change careers.

2. Kate Moss

Another model, Moss was best known for her waifish figure. However, it was actually her work with Topshop back in 2007 that turned her on to entrepreneurial endeavors. Today, she's designed 14 different lines for the company and her new releases often sell out in hours. She's also designed bags for Longchamp. Moss took what she was good at and turned it into a brand new career.

3. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen

You might say that these two were entrepreneurs before they could walk. The former TV twins first gained fame back in the late 1980s and early 1990s on the ABC hit Full House. While dozens of other child stars faded away, these two moved into merchandising as preteens and built their own empire, Dualstar. The venture created movies, toys, and clothes that were a natural fit for their longtime demographic. More recently, their fashion lines The Row, Osenbove, and Elizabeth and James have made big strides in the industry, generating more than $1 billion in sales.

4. Jillian Michaels

The famous personal trainer made it big over 10 seasons on The Biggest Loser, but she's moved beyond that to create her own media company. Today, she creates workout DVDs and exercise equipment, and is also dabbling in video games (fitness-related, of course). She is another example of the importance of building a foundation before branching out and growing a brand based on your forte.

5. Jaclyn Smith

This former Charlie's Angels star succeeded in masterminding one of the best celebrity brands of all time. Smith's fashion collection has been a staple at Kmart for more than 25 years, and may have been the inspiration for some of Sofia Vergara's entrepreneurial adventures. Smith also dabbles in skincare and wigs, but it's her fashion at an affordable price that really sealed the deal.

6. Nicole Richie

You might not have thought that Lionel Richie's daughter, who first rose to international recognition alongside Paris Hilton on reality TV, would have become a successful businessperson. She most certainly did, though. What could have just been 15 minutes of fame has developed into multiple entrepreneurial endeavors. She's written two novels (both successful) and has a maternity line at A Pea in the Pod as well as an accessories line under her belt. She also concentrates on charity work and environmental issues. Richie wasn't on TV for long, but she took her chance and capitalized on it in an admirable way.

You don't need to be a celebrity to become a successful entrepreneur (though it doesn't hurt). You've got to have the drive and belief in yourself that these women have. In Nicole Richie, you see someone who overcame criticism to build a strong brand. In Jaclyn Smith, you have to respect that trailblazing career path and longevity. Jillian Michaels highlights just how successful you can be if you leverage what people know you, for and build on it. The Olsen twins didn't let childhood stardom, which often becomes something of a curse, derail their careers. And of course, Kate Moss and Tyra Banks show that switching careers should not be feared, but embraced. Tenacity, consistency, and truly impressive business acumen may not develop right away, but when it arrives, it can pay off big.

Published on: Jul 21, 2014
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