7 Entrepreneurs Who Failed Miserably (At Least at First)

Last updated on October 21st, 2018 at 10:22 pm

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

– Walt Disney

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When you picture success, what comes to mind? Most of us probably envision entrepreneurs who have made it to the top, and are now running successful companies.

But while it’s easy to see someone’s glossy picture-perfect image on the front of Fortune, and assume that they found success through sheer talent and unwavering perfection, the truth tells a far different story.

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A successful man; Image source: pexels.com

By and large, most people who’ve made it didn’t arrive in a gilded carriage. For most, success only came after hard work, mistakes, and yes, even failures; sometimes a lot of them.

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Before you get discouraged, and wonder why you haven’t yet reached your dream of success, don’t give up! History is filled with people who made it big, but only after first failing and then trying again. Success is the result of hard work, determination, and perhaps above all, a staunch refusal to give up.

Having doubts? Without further ado here’s a list of well-known entrepreneurs and business moguls who found success only after failing spectacularly first.

Walt Disney

Who hasn’t heard of Walt Disney? Known the world over, Disney was something of a revolutionary, and is a great example of someone with a vision that no one else was able to see. However, he wasn’t always as loved and popular as he is today. In the early days, in fact, he was fired from his job at a newspaper because his editor felt that he, “Lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

He would go on to be rejected more than 300 times by bankers who thought that his idea of Mickey Mouse was absurd. Fortunately for us, Walt didn’t pay attention to the naysayers and went on to be very successful indeed.

Steve Jobs

Perhaps the best-loved entrepreneur of our time, Steve Jobs has quite literally changed the way that we live. But when Jobs was in his 30s, he was fired from Apple Computers, the very company he’d created.

While he didn’t see it at the time, looking back, Jobs said that getting fired ended up being, “The best thing that could have ever happened to me.” During his time away, Jobs co-founded computer company NeXT as well as Pixar. Eventually he returned to Apple, bringing with him the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Colonel Harland Sanders

While he’s most famous for his fried chicken, Mr. Sanders wasn’t always the keeper of the secret recipe. In fact, the Colonel attempted a number of various career paths in his time including tire salesman.

He was also fired from a vast number of them due to his temper. The Colonel finally founded KFC when he was 56 years old, but not before his recipe was first rejected by countless restaurants first. Legend has it he heard “no” 1009 times before he got a “yes.” That’s determination!

Henry Ford

While you probably know Henry Ford as the famed founder of Ford Motor Company, you may not know that before the Model T, Ford had founded two other automotive companies that went on to fail.

Eventually, Ford was to meet Alexander Malcomson, a coal magnate who put Ford in charge of production and they would go on to introduce the Model A in 1904. As Ford himself reportedly said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Milton Hershey

Hershey’s is synonymous with chocolatey goodness, but Milton Hershey’s rise to the top was anything but sweet. Originally, Hershey worked for a local candy factory before he decided to venture off on his own, when he was met with failure at every turn. After a series of confectionary business failures, and his family refusing to loan him any more money, he still managed to go on to perfect the art of making chocolate.

He eventually built a huge chocolate factory, and a town to go with it; Hershey, Pennsylvania. Today, Hershey is also well-regarded for his fairness and generosity towards his employees.

Stephen King

Steven King is well-known for his best-selling novels and the subsequent movies, but his big break didn’t come easily. When he was just 20, King’s manuscript “Carrie” was rejected by 30 publishers.

Eventually, a frustrated King threw it in the trash. Thankfully, his wife retrieved it and urged him to resubmit it. Since then, King has gone on to publish over 50 books, all of them worldwide bestsellers.

Jack Dorsey

Many people can’t go more than a few hours without checking Twitter, but a now-popular platform was created when founder Jack Dorsey was at a low point in his life. Working in a now-failed podcasting company, Dorsey was brainstorming an idea to improve the company when he had a brilliant idea, which was to eventually become Twitter. To quote Dorsey himself, “Twitter was not started because we had a good idea. It was started out of a failure.”

While it can be discouraging, working to build your business or start a new venture and being met with rejection and failure every step of the way, it’s important to realize that failure doesn’t have to spell the end. Instead, learn from the examples of the above entrepreneurs, and countless others, who were able to turn failure into a stepping stone to success.

As an entrepreneur, have you faced failure and rejection? How do you stay on-track?

About the Author:

Eric Czerwonka is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Buddy Punch, an employee time tracking software company founded in 2013 that provides employee management solutions for any small and large companies alike – anyone with employees from startups right to corporations and anyone with a remote team to manage. In the future, Eric hopes to continue to fit each problem with the correct solution through the use of technology as well as innovation. Eric also holds a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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