Have you experienced business failure in the past? Are you afraid of starting a business because of the fear of failure? Do you fear failure? Is failure a sign of defeat? Are there individuals who failed and still went on to succeed? If you desire an answer to any of these questions, please read on.
I got the inspiration to write this article when a woman lamented to me that one of the biggest mistake she made in life was to quit her plum job to start a business. I got home and reflected over the words of that woman and felt compassion for her.
I reflected over my own life and realized that I have been in the same shoes as the woman. I had regretted starting a business on several occasions. I remembered how I felt and still feel each time I fail; I usually feel bad because nobody likes been associated with failure. Failure makes you look like a dumb; while success puts you in the hero position. Failure makes you feel alone.
So I am writing this article for those who feel alone in their dark moments; I am writing this for those who feel downcast because they’ve failed. I am writing this to let you know that you are not alone. I have also been through the failure process and I am still going through it now. But I am not also alone; I have successful entrepreneurs and role models that have failed woefully in the past.
“Success is a poor teacher. We learn the most about ourselves when we fail, so don’t be afraid of failing. Failing is part of the process of success. You cannot have success without failure.” – Rich Dad
In this article, I will be sharing with you some of the spectacular business failures faced by these successful entrepreneurs. I am not sharing these business failures with you to get you excited; I am doing it to let you know that every successful entrepreneur in this world has gone through a stint of failure in business. Take a closer observation at the entrepreneurial path of the drop out billionaires and you will see that their successes were built on past failures.
“The business empires built by successful entrepreneurs were erected on the foundation of past failures.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
Do you think you are a failure in business? Do you think you are alone? Then read this:
10 Famous Business Failures of Successful Entrepreneurs
1. Henry Ford
Henry Ford failed twice in business before he finally went on to build the Ford Motor Company; and became one of the richest men in the world. He has this to say about his business failures:
“Failure is just a resting place. It is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
“If I lose a billion dollars, I will have it back in less than five years.” – Henry Ford
2. Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison went through a lot in life as an entrepreneur but his most spectacular business failure was his famous light bulb invention. He failed 10,000 times trying to invent the light bulb and after the 10,000th time; he succeed. Today, his company General Electric is one of the most powerful companies in the world. Thomas Edison has this to say about his business failures:
“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
3. Robert Kiyosaki
Robert Kiyosaki in his best selling book “Rich Dad’s Before You Quit Your Job” explained how he built a successful business (Nylon and Velcro Wallet Company) from scratch and lost this business due to incompetence. With experience from the failure of the Nylon and Velcro wallet company; he went on to build “The Rich Dad Company.” This is what he has to say about his business failure.
“There are no mistakes in life, just learning opportunities.” – Robert Kiyosaki
4. Colonel Harland Sanders
Colonel Sanders started out as an entrepreneur at the age of 66; when he developed a “Chicken recipe” business idea. He took this business idea to different restaurants and he was turned down over a 1,000 times. These rejections formed the foundation on which Kentucky Fried Chicken was built and this is what Colonel Harland Sanders has to say about his initial failures.
“I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labour, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.” – Colonel Harland Sanders
5. J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter series is one of the best selling books in the world but what most people will never know is that the author “J. K. Rowling” was turned down several times by publishers. Instead of being deterred; she went on to become a billionaire author and this is what she has to say about her initial failures.
“What’s the worst that could happen? Everyone turned me down; big deal.” – J. K. Rowling
“Never be ashamed! There’s some who will hold it against you, but they are not worth bothering with.” – J. K. Rowling
6. Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart successfully built her company “Martha Stewart Living OmniMedia” from scratch and became a billionaire. But she made a mistake (insider trading) that negatively affected her reputation and landed her in jail. Being an entrepreneur with guts; she refused to be cowed by her mistakes and she bounced back to fortune and fame. This is what she has to say about her mistake and resulting failure.
“I know I have a very tough five months ahead of me, but I understand, too, that I will get through those months knowing that I have the ability to return to my productive and normal life, my interesting work and future business opportunities.” – Martha Stewart
“My new motto is: When you’re through changing, you’re through.” – Martha Stewart
7. Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison dropped out of college twice; and bounced from job to job without a direction. His adopted father told him that he would not amount to anything in life. But Larry Ellison started Oracle from scratch and went on to become one of the richest drop out billionaires in the world and this is what he has to say about it.
“The most important aspect of my personality as far as determining my success goes; has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts and questioning authority. While that can be painful in your relationships with your parents and teachers, it’s enormously useful in life.” – Larry Ellison
“I have had all the disadvantages required for success.” – Larry Ellison
8. Sir Philip Green
Sir Philip Green is a British billionaire and owner of one of the world’s largest retailing chain but what most people will never know is that Sir Philip Green went through four business failures before making his first million at the age of 33.
9. Donald Trump
Donald Trump is a savvy real estate billionaire that has gone through bankruptcy; not one but twice. He once had a personal debt of $1billion and corporate debt of $9billion but he courageously pulled himself out of the mess and this is what he has to say about his business failures.
“Anyone who thinks my story is anywhere near over is sadly mistaken.” – Donald Trump
“Sometimes by losing a battle, you will find a new way to win the war.” – Donald Trump
“I was relentless even in the face of total lack of encouragement because much more often than you think; sheer persistence is the difference between success and failure.” – Donald Trump
10. Richard Branson
Richard Branson is one of the few entrepreneurs that inspire me the most. He has gone through thick and thin; and has been on the verge of business failure on countless occasions. His first business (student magazine) failed despite showing strong potentials.
Richard Branson has also painfully shut down or sold some businesses just to survive; but despite all, he still emerged stronger and more successful. You can read about his business experience, failures and successes in his best selling book “Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way.”
“We have always had a pretty competitive ferocious battle with British Airways. It lasted about 14 years and we are very pleased to have survived it.” – Richard Branson
“To be successful, you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running, and if you have a good team around you and more than a fair share of luck, you might make something happen. But you certainly can’t guarantee it just by following someone else formula.” – Richard Branson
As a final note, these are the top ten entrepreneurs I chose to share their failure stories with you. The reason i shared these failure stories is to make you see that there is no shortcut to success and there’s nothing like overnight success.
Every successful entrepreneur paid a price. I still want you to know that you are not alone. I have had my own share of business challenges and I am still fighting it out. Just be strong, stay focused and stick to the entrepreneurial process. I will see you at the top.