5 Successful people who failed in business…biggest failure in life turning into some of the most successful people…
This article is about successful people who failed in business. In come cases entrepreneurs who failed many times before they succeeded.
Writing about entrepreneurs who failed before they succeeded was borne out of my article I wrote on Michele Romanow. Romanow’s second business selling caviar failed, but this didn’t stop her from achieving a net worth of $150 million.
Jump to this section of the article if you wish:
- One of the most notable entrepreneurs failed spectacularly before he helped to change the automobile industry…Henry Ford…
- Another famous entrepreneur who failed before making it big is another favourite Walt Disney…
- A famous entrepreneur from the UK who had 5,126 failed prototypes to being worth $4.4 billion…Sir James Dyson…
- Steve Jobs of Apple computers got fired from Apple which helped him to begin again…
- Success-failure quotes…
When I wrote the article on the most important characteristics or entrepreneurs, one of these characteristic is being a risk-taker. The word entrepreneur is defined as a person who takes on financial risk. However, the biggest risk entrepreneurs take on is the risk of failing.
If you go-big like Elon Musk, you could lose everything.
Why write about successful people who failed?
- I find myself drawn to success stories where the person has failed first.
- People are inspired by entrepreneurs who succeed out of failure.
- I wanted to write another inspirational article about the determination of entrepreneurs.
So lets take a look at successful entrepreneurs who failed at first…
Failure is often times one of the important ingredients for success. Whether failure helps to galvanise the person into the successful person they become, I’m not sure.
It could simply be that most hugely successful people are so hell-bent on their path of success, that failure is sometimes simply a part of their journey in any event. What is certain, failure is a huge teaching mechanism, and if the failure is big enough to hurt, it will change the way entrepreneurs act going forward. I know it does for me.
I’m still contemplating my new way forward after my last failure, not that the failure is holding me back, but rather making me think differently about the next move forward. What I’ve learned during my research and writing about entrepreneurs, and in particular teen entrepreneurs actually, is whatever business I run going forward needs to be something that I’m passionate about. My last multi-million pound business wasn’t my passion, but I had to do it to find out.
Looking at the entrepreneurs I’ve chosen for this article, they are all obviously hugely passionate about the business they are/were in. This is what has contributed to their huge success. I think it also helps to provide the ‘blinkers’ entrepreneurs need for their dogged belief in what they do.
It’s a shame that business failure is so frowned upon in the UK, because this will be a contributing factor for the fear of failure for many.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have failed, so let’s start with an extremely successful and famous entrepreneur who failed first, before his true success…
One of the most notable entrepreneurs who failed before they succeeded..one who failed spectacularly before he helped to change the automobile industry…Henry Ford…
Before Henry Ford had his massive success at the Ford Motor Company he’s an entrepreneurs that failed at first and failed spectacularly. His first company, Detroit Automobile Company went bankrupt in 1901, he lost $86,000 (The equivalent of $9.5 Million in today’s terms) of investors money in this failure. This company sold cars that were over priced and of low quality.
His second attempt at manufacturing cars was with a business partner. His second business was called Henry Ford Company. However, due to a dispute with his business partner, this second company also collapsed in failure. This business continued without Ford and became the Cadillac Company.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Henry Ford
Like any determined entrepreneur who never gives up, he then set up the Ford Motor Company in June 1903. He had to prove to a new round of angel investors that he had learned from his previous mistakes. He managed to raise the $28,000 this new startup business needed (The equivalent of around $3.1 million in today’s terms).
This company became successful in its first 12 months of trading. In fact it made profits of $37,000 (The equivalent of nearly $4.1 million in today’s terms) by October of 1903.
As known today, the Ford Motor Company has gone on to be one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world.
Another famous entrepreneur that failed before succeeding and make it big is another favourite; Walt Disney…
Walt Disney is another of the famous entrepreneurs who failed before becoming successful. When you see the success he left behind when he died, you’d never think of him as an entrepreneur who failed. But he is top of the list of famous entrepreneurs who failed before he became successful.
Everyone loves Disney, and had it not been for his determination and vision we wouldn’t have the legacy we have today. His first business venture into animation went wrong. His first venture was with business partner Ub Iwerks as commercial artists. The pair failed to make this business a success, as they failed to attract enough customers.
Not being put off by his failures, Disney setup Laugh-O-Gram Studio in May 1921. However, with a lack of profits and cash flow to keep the business solvent, he started Alice’s Wonderland. This was his first short film which cast Virginia Davies and was based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Unfortunately for Disney, this short film came too late and the company went bankrupt in 1923.
“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.” Walt Disney.
The Walt Disney Company, originally named Disney Brothers Studio as it was set up with his brother Roy, began life in October 1923 in Los Angeles. The rest is history. He produced the first feature length animated film in 1934 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This film was first of many, and set the path for his huge success and fame.
Another of the famous entrepreneurs who failed many times before succeeding…an entrepreneur from the UK who had 5,126 failed prototypes on his path to being worth $4.4 billion…Sir James Dyson…
When I was looking to write about successful people who failed, I had to include Sir James Dyson. Similar in a way to Thomas Edison, Dyson was is an incredible entrepreneur.
James Dyson is an entrepreneur who failed many times before succeeding. Only second to Thomas Edison I’d say in in creating huge numbers of prototypes before his huge success.
To create the now hugely successful bagless vacuum cleaner it took him 15 years and nearly all the money he had. Not only that, he made 5,126 prototypes before on the 5,127th time he had the eureka moment.
“Like everyone we get frustrated by products that don’t work properly. As design engineers we do something about it. We’re all about invention and improvement.” James Dyson.
Related:From a $300,000 loan and her first invention Lori Greiner’s business has grossed in sales $500,000,000 since 1996. She now has over 120 patents to her name also.
Today Dyson machines are sold in over 65 countries around the world. Dyson himself now has a net worth estimated at $4.4 billion (2017) and his company employs over 1,000 engineers world-wide.
Steve Jobs of Apple computers is another of my entrepreneurs who failed in business…he got fired from Apple which helped him to begin again…
You’d probably never put the late Steve Jobs down as an entrepreneur that failed. But he was very open about what happened to his career at Apple.
At the time in 1985 when Steve Jobs was fired from Apple computers, he didn’t see it as a good thing. But he is later known for saying that it was the best thing that could have happened to him.
“It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” Steve Jobs talking about being fired from Apple.
In the vacuum created by him being fired, Steve Jobs entered his most creative period. He formed NeXT which was a company set up to develop computers for higher education and business. In addition to this he setup PIXAR which produced the first fully computer animated film Toy Story. This second business was formed out of a collaboration with George Lucas’s Lucasfilm company.
12 years after his exit from Apple Computers, his business NeXT computers merged with a nearly bankrupt Apple. Jobs became CEO of the newly combine business and revived the then failing company. Enter the ‘i’ revolution…iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPad and iPhone.
With this string of successes it led to an estimated net worth of $10.2 billion for Steve Jobs back in 2011, at the time of his death from cancer.
Jobs fear of failure was overcome by his greater fear of death…
Words from Steve Jobs that resonate with me also:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything; all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important,” Jobs said.
When you’ve faced fear, which I have, these words mean so much more. In reality, the fear of failure is so small in comparison to the fear of death, and it needs to be put into perspective.
This leads nicely on to me next chosen entrepreneur…
Thomas Edison had a different perspective on failure than most…a famous entrepreneurs who’s know for having failed many times before succeeding…
Thomas Edison is best known for inventing the light bulb. But in order for him to achieve this new innovation at the time, he failed over 10,000 times. Although Edison didn’t see it that way.
That’s nearly twice as many prototypes as the Dyson example discussed above.
Thomas Edison embraced failure…
However, Edison didn’t see these 10,000 failures as failure. Instead he embraced failure and said “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
By putting a different perspective on anything, will change they way we look at it. Most less determine people would not have got past 1,000 prototypes, let alone reached 10,000.
These are the types of things that set the mega-successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest. It ties back to my article on the most important characteristic of entrepreneurs, which is tenacity.
I thought I’d finish this article about successful people who failed with a few inspirational quotes…
“I’m never a failure unless I quit trying, and neither are you.” Joyce Meyer.
“Just because you don’t get the grades in school, doesn’t mean you won’t make the grade in life. In fact, failure is a necessary stepping stone to success.” Sir Richard Branson.
“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” Sir Winston Churchill.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Henry Ford.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is courage to continue that counts.” Sir Winston Churchill.
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