How One Man Turned $2,000 Into $500 Million

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The Gill Foundation

If you’re a newer entrepreneur finding your way toward success, this man’s story will inspire you and give you four strategies that helped him turn $2,000 into over $500 million.

Who is Tim Gill?

In the early 1980s, Tim Gill found himself newly unemployed. He was let go from a small business due to budget cuts. Over the next couple of years, Gill nervously prepared for and went on numerous job interviews but never found something he liked. After too much fruitless searching, Gill stumbled upon an opportunity that forever changed his life and the course of philanthropy in the LGBTQ community.

Gill was one half of the partnership that created Quark, Inc. and its software QuarkXPress used ubiquitously in traditional publishing from the 1980s through the early 2000s. Gill’s humility shines when he describes his first product as “just a word processor for the Apple III computer with only 120,000 sold.”

The market for an Apple III word processor was small then, but it was Gill’s experiences below that helped him and his business partner create an industry leader.

Hear how Gill became the philanthropic entrepreneur on this Queer Money™:

Read more!

Tim Gill’s tips for entrepreneurial success shared on this Queer Money™.

1. Look for opportunity in the struggle

In his post-layoff job search, Gill says, “I got disgusted [searching for a job], and then I decided I should do something on my own.” That change from frustrated to enthusiastic thinking opened Gill up to an opportunity many might have seen as work that was too hard.

At the time, there was a local computer dealer selling Apple IIIs, and even though Apple promised to build a word processor for it, they never did. The computer dealer said to Gill, “I’ll loan you an Apple III if you build me a word processor.” Gill obliged.

For temporary help getting started, Gill asked his parents for a $2,000 loan. His parents shared years later that they never expected to see that money again. Gill was confident he’d repay them, though he never envisioned Quark would become the leader in desktop publishing that it did.

2. Find the need, then provide the solution

When starting out, we can’t always predict the end-result. We must be open to feedback from our friends, family, business associates and customers.

Gill shares, “I cannot think of a single product I’ve ever designed where what we ended up producing, in the end, exactly what I thought I was making in the beginning.” It’s important to listen to your clients and discern from all their inputs which inputs are important, which are similar enough to combine, and then make a product that’s logical and valuable as a result. That process can sometimes feel opaque but listening to your clients will help you create the product or service they need.

As entrepreneurs, we can get rigid with our way of thinking, but successful entrepreneurs must be flexible enough so that we design what the market wants and not what we want.

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