TD Ameritrade founder started business on pennies while cleaning bathrooms

When online trading pioneer Joe Ricketts founded TD Ameritrade, he had no idea that things were going to unfold the way they did.

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“We happened to be in the right place at the right time and were willing to take a risk,” he told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo. “That's the important part to say, “Hey, I can lose and I'm still OK.”

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A good work ethic was instilled into Ricketts at a young age, who is now worth nearly $2.3 billion, Forbes says. He said his first job was as a janitor in the third grade and the billion-dollar brokerage firm was started “on pennies” while he was “still cleaning” bathrooms.

Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., during an interview in New York on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Even so, building the business came with many obstacles, he said.

“We had a difficult time putting four people together to each put up $12,500,” he said. “And $10,000 of that I borrowed because I saw the opportunity and I was anxious to take care of it. But then we also had to make sure that we made a profit every month … because we couldn’t afford to lose it.”

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When it comes to teaching future generations the value of hard work, Ricketts is putting the onus on parents to teach kids how to build success from the ground up.

“You can’t rely on the schools. The schools are going to teach them something different,” he said. “So it's up to us as our generation. We can't say it's up to society to do it.”

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