How Did John D Rockefeller Start His Business

John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil Company, is widely regarded as one of the most successful businessmen in history. Born in 1839 in upstate New York, Rockefeller was the second of six children in his family. His father was a traveling salesman, and his mother was a devout Baptist. Rockefeller’s parents instilled in him the values of hard work, thrift, and philanthropy from an early age.

As a child, Rockefeller was a diligent student and worked hard on his family’s farm. He had a natural talent for numbers and soon became interested in business. When he was just 16 years old, Rockefeller took a job as a bookkeeper for a local firm. He quickly proved himself to be a skilled accountant and was soon promoted to a higher position.

In 1859, Rockefeller formed a partnership with Maurice B. Clark to establish a produce commission firm, Clark & Rockefeller. The company sold grains, hay, meats, and other products to local merchants and wholesalers. Rockefeller used his skills as a bookkeeper to manage the company’s finances and keep accurate records of its transactions.

However, Rockefeller quickly realized that the produce commission business was not particularly profitable, and he began to look for other opportunities. He saw that the oil industry was rapidly growing, and he believed that there was a great deal of money to be made in this field.

In 1863, Rockefeller and a partner, Samuel Andrews, invested $4,000 to start an oil refinery in Cleveland, Ohio. The company, called Andrews & Rockefeller, was successful, but Rockefeller quickly realized that the oil refining industry was highly competitive and that he needed to find a way to gain an advantage over his competitors.

Rockefeller began to focus on improving the efficiency of his refinery operations. He introduced new processes and technologies that allowed him to produce higher-quality oil at a lower cost than his competitors. He also developed a network of pipelines and transportation infrastructure that allowed him to move his oil to market more quickly and at a lower cost.

In 1870, Rockefeller formed the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, which soon became the largest oil refiner in the world. Rockefeller used his business acumen and his understanding of the oil industry to acquire or drive out his competitors, giving Standard Oil a near-monopoly on the refining and transportation of oil in the United States.

Rockefeller was also a shrewd businessman in his dealings with railroads, which were the primary means of transporting oil at the time. He negotiated favorable rates with the railroads and even bought stock in them to ensure that his oil would be transported quickly and efficiently.

As Standard Oil grew, Rockefeller became one of the wealthiest men in the world. He used his wealth to support philanthropic causes, such as education and medical research, and he became a major benefactor of the University of Chicago.

In 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Standard Oil was an illegal monopoly and ordered the company to be broken up into smaller, independent companies. Rockefeller retired from the company shortly thereafter and devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy.

In conclusion, John D. Rockefeller’s success in business can be attributed to his keen understanding of the oil industry, his ability to innovate and improve the efficiency of his operations, and his shrewd business acumen. He used his wealth to support philanthropic causes, and his legacy is still felt today through the many institutions and organizations that he helped to establish.

One of the key factors that contributed to Rockefeller’s success was his strong work ethic and attention to detail. He was known for his meticulous record-keeping and his ability to analyze data to identify opportunities for growth and improvement. He also believed in investing in his employees and providing them with opportunities for advancement and professional development.

Another important factor was Rockefeller’s ability to build relationships and network with other business leaders. He was known for his diplomatic skills and his ability to negotiate favorable deals with suppliers, customers, and competitors. He also built a team of trusted advisors and managers who helped him to run his business efficiently and effectively.

Rockefeller was also known for his commitment to innovation and technology. He was always looking for new ways to improve his operations and stay ahead of the competition. He invested heavily in research and development, and he was willing to take risks and make bold decisions when he believed it was necessary.

Despite his enormous wealth and power, Rockefeller was also known for his humility and his commitment to philanthropy. He believed that it was his duty to use his wealth to make a positive impact on society, and he donated millions of dollars to support education, medical research, and other worthy causes. He also founded the Rockefeller Foundation, which continues to support innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

However, it is worth noting that Rockefeller’s success was not without controversy. He was criticized for his ruthless business practices and for using his wealth and power to gain unfair advantages over his competitors. He was also accused of monopolizing the oil industry and driving up prices for consumers.

In response to these criticisms, Rockefeller defended his actions by arguing that he was simply operating within the free-market system and that his success was a result of his hard work and business acumen. He also believed that his philanthropic efforts were a way to give back to society and to make a positive impact on the world.


In conclusion, John D. Rockefeller’s success in business was a result of his keen intellect, strong work ethic, innovative spirit, and commitment to philanthropy. His legacy continues to be felt today, both through the many organizations he helped to establish and through the ongoing debate about the role of wealth and power in society.