3 business leaders who failed in the beginning
It's rare to find a successful person who hasn't at some point experienced failure. What separates the best from the rest is their determination to keep going when the world is telling them to stop.
1. Colonel Sanders
Harland Sanders, better known as the Colonel, is recognised around the world. His white hair, white suit and beautiful necktie are on shopfronts and chicken packaging in 118 different countries, but world domination wasn't simple for him nor his KFC chain. In his early life, Sanders was fired from half a dozen jobs – including at least two where he was let go after fighting at work – and he also started a lamp manufacturing company that failed.
But once he started cooking chicken, it grew quickly in popularity. After selling his restaurant, he went on to franchise his recipe, often sleeping in his car while he was building up his business. In 1964, he sold the corporation for $2 million and was kept on as spokesman while the company grew around the world.
2. Henry Ford
Henry Ford is known for the car company he started – the one that's still around more than 100 years later. But he's not remembered for his failed ventures. With the advancing nature of machinery in the 1890s, there was a race on to create a horseless cart, and Ford was one of many working on a design. He created a prototype, improved on it and then got financial backing to start the Detroit Automobile Company. Problems arose and a year and a half later his backers pulled out, citing they had lost faith in Ford's ability. Ford didn't give up and, soon afterwards, with a refined design, he got more backers and started the Henry Ford Company. This also failed, with too much interference from others causing Ford to leave within a year.
Ford learnt from all these failures and it was third time lucky for him. Backed by a non-meddling Scotsman, Ford created an assembly line that he had full control over, building the lightest automobile yet – and one that was sturdy and reliable. This company – the Ford Motor Company – was an almost-instant success, and the fact that it's still around today is testament to its owner overcoming early obstacles.
3. James Dyson
While some people keep going after one or two setbacks, James Dyson puts them all to shame. The British inventor suffered 5126 failures over 15 years before getting his iconic vacuum cleaner right. For him, each failure led to new knowledge and something that could be improved upon, and his end product proved his theory as it revolutionised the market. Dyson vacuums are one of the bestselling in the world, and the man behind the name is now thought to be worth around US$5 billion. His long struggle proves that you don't need to succumb to the demand for instant gratification to achieve huge success.
No one ever succeeded by giving up, so no matter what obstacle you face, what difficulty you encounter or what mistake you make, learn from your experiences and use them to keep improving. The road to success is not a straight journey from A to B. Instead, you'll find yourself taking many detours and venturing down many dead-end streets before reaching your destination.
How did your business get to where it is today, and what lessons did you learn along the way?