'Foolish' Idea: Selling mobile phones.
Start-up Capital: Not known.
How Idea was Launched:
Founded 4u High Street Chain, about 10 years ago. Now, his empire, The Caudwell Group is expanding so fast he needs star managers - the Linford Christie's of the corporate world.
Sales: From nought to £1billion in just over 10 years.
Earnings: Reported in 2001 to be worth £980million. He owns a majority stake in the Caudwell Group.
Fourteen years ago, John was selling used cars in Stoke-on-Trent. Over ten years ago, he founded Phones 4U. It has become Britain's largest mobile phone distribution network, repairs service, accessories distributor and independent airtime provider.
Recently John invested in the Discovery Stores gift shops. He has secured the UK distribution rights for top American toy Cybiko. The Discovery Stores are filled with executive toys.
In March 2002, John was featured in BBC2's business programme, 'Trouble At The Top', which filmed promising young and hopeful executives being interviewed. They had answered John's ad. in the Sunday Times for the High Flier Competition, with the winner standing to run a big business empire and become a multi-millionaire, with a six-figure salary package, plus bonuses.
John's empire is expanding so fast he needs star players in his management team. He looks for passion, motivation in his staff and holds a contest for the Chairman's Cup each year. 3,000 employees were at the huge party, held in an arena size tent in a car park in Stoke, where John rewarded employees who had put in real effort and shown great ability, sometimes sacrificing all to achieve. It was a celebration of success.
John maintains that real winners are hard to find, those with the entrepreneurial spirit who do not blame economic problems for falling sales, instead look for alternative methods to create profit.
He believes the four corner stones of success are:
John's success rules have worked for him. He lives in a £10million Jacobean mansion in Staffordshire, owns three of the fastest road-legal motorbikes ever made, a helicopter, private jet, 64ft yacht and a Bentley Azure with the number plate IJC.