Despite large banks and stock market traders making a huge commotion about how ‘important’ they are, we all know the truth: small businesses (i.e., mom-and-pop shops) are the backbone of the American economy, with a whopping 50% of the American workforce employed in small businesses, small-town main street shops, and dime stores all across the country.

But even the smallest businesses can become a captain of their industry, and these 4 businesses went from being small, no-name shops into world-changing cultural touch points that have helped shape society as we know it today:

Apple

Apple is probably one of the world’s foremost tech companies, serving up a new innovation in computer and mobile phone tech every few months, but did you know that it started out in a drafty garage? That’s right, the tech giant founded by the two Steves (Jobs and Wozniak) launched Apple from their home garage.

Using a prototype of their computer, the two worked tirelessly to perfect their products, eventually moving out of their garage within a few months, and within a decade, became one of the largest tech companies in the world. Not bad for a couple of college dropouts!

Facebook

The 21st century can be defined as the Age of Social Media, and no platform is more well known and more innovative than Facebook. Although social media wasn’t exactly a new idea when Facebook rolled around (having been preceded by Friendster and MySpace), it was Mark Zuckerberg’s innovative platform that took social media from a niche site on the internet into a global industry.

But the $350 billion company we know today actually started out from Zuckerberg’s dorm room, after the college student decided to create a platform for fellow Harvard students to share photos and posts with other people from their university. Now, Facebook is pretty much essential to everyday life and business.

YoutubeYouTube

What would the world look like without YouTube? The video sharing platform has been at the forefront of delivering video content across the internet for more than a decade, and it’s all thanks to founders Chad Hurley and Steven Chen, who founded the video-sharing site in 2005 from their cubicle office.

Yes, YouTube started as a side-project for the founder’s friends to share videos with one another, and they created it from the confines of their day jobs. Now, YouTube uploads almost a billion videos everyday, and the company is now worth more than $40 billion. Thankfully, their day job bosses didn’t notice!

Google

During the infancy of the internet, pretty much anyone with a basic background in HTML could set-up a website. By the first decade of its existence, the need to have a dedicated website to sift through all the other websites so that users can find the exact page they’re looking for.

Other search engines came and went, but it was Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s brainchild Google (originally named BackRub) that dominated the search engine industry, thanks to its innovative search factors and algorithms that made it more comprehensive than other engines, not to mention faster and more accurate. It’s now worth more than $600 billion and has branched over to other types of tech.

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