Learn how these renowned entrepreneurs faced setbacks and rose to create great brands.
Many entrepreneurs have their business heroes. Some of them are admired not only for their great successes, but also for the failures they faced and their ways of returning to the battlefield.
We share with you the setbacks and returns of some of the most famous entrepreneurs and what can be learned from them:
1. Henry Ford , Ford Motor Co.
Setback: Ford suffered several automotive failures in its early days, including Detroit Automobile.Co , which started in 1899 and whose cars were deemed poor quality and too expensive for customers.
Comeback: Ford continued to develop better car designs and earned national recognition for the “Ford 999” demo car, which broke the ground speed record by traveling one mile (1.6 km) in 40 seconds. In 1908, the Model T was launched, a well-made and reasonably priced car that soon gained traction among American consumers. Annual sales reached $ 250,000 in 1914.
Phrase: “Whether you think you can or can’t do it, you’re right.”
Lesson: Building a brand requires much more than just building a good product.
2. Anita Roddick , The Body Shop
Setback: When Roddick opened his first The Body Shop, a well-known beauty supply company, in 1976 in Brighton, UK, two nearby funerals opposed the name.
Return: Roddick fought back suggesting to a local newspaper that she was a harassed entrepreneur. The advertising generated traffic to the store, and in the early 1990s there were over 700 Body Shop stores.
Phrase: “If you think you are too young to have an impact, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
Lesson: Don’t let small setbacks deviate you from your course.
3. Federick W. Smith , Federal Express
Setback: After revolutionizing delivery service in the 1970s, Smith introduced an electronic delivery service, Zapmail, in 1984 to compete with fax machines. But Zapmail earned no interest and cost the company about $ 350 million.
Return: FedEx left Zapmail in 1986 and the company refocused its energy on the core business. In 2012, it generated $ 35 billion in profits.
Phrase: “Leaders take the lead and stay there setting the standards by which they judge themselves and by those who are willing to be judged.”
Lesson: You must be willing to acknowledge failure, abandon ideas, and move on.
4. Walt Disney , The Walt Disney Co. (now Disney Corp.)
Setback: The cartoon animation pioneer faced various financial problems in the late 1920s and early 30s, including the loss of rights to the popular character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. His company had $ 4 million in debt in the early 1930s.
Comeback: With just enough money to finance the project, Disney released “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1938. The film saved the company from bankruptcy and funded the creation of the new Disney studios in Burbank, California.
Phrase: “You may not notice it when it happens, but a kick to the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
Lesson: A great idea can make up a series of mistakes.
5. Steve Jobs , Apple Computer
Setback: After his forced resignation from Apple in 1985, Jobs used the following years to develop NeXT, a computer station for educators. But due to the high price and numerous viruses, sales never materialized. The company burned hundreds of millions of investor dollars.
Return: Apple announced that it would buy NeXT in 1996, bringing Jobs back to the company as interim CEO. Thereafter, he developed the iPod and iPad, making Apple one of the Fortune 500’s most successful companies in the past decade.
Phrase: “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then give it to them. By the time you build it, they will want something different. “
Lesson: Having the resources and the right people around you makes a difference.
6. Bill Gates , Microsoft Corp.
Setback: While studying high school in the 1970s, Gates and Paul Allen started Traf-O-Data, a computer business that automatically read raw data from traffic counters and allowed them to generate useful reports for traffic engineers. The idea soon became obsolete when the state of Washington offered to tabulate the data for free.
Return: The two entrepreneurs learned from their failed business how to write software for a computer they did not have access to and created a new startup called “Micro-Soft”.
Phrase: “Success is a bad teacher. It seduces smart people to believe that they can never lose. “
Lesson: You can learn a lot from failures
7. Harland David Sanders aka “Colonel Sanders” , Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC Corp.)
Setback: In 1955, a new interstate moved through Corbin, Ky., Where Sanders had cooked chicken at his restaurant for nearly two decades. After selling the premises and paying debts, Sanders was bankrupt.
Return: He had already started franchising his restaurant concept. He opted to dedicate himself full time to selling franchises and in five years he had 190 franchisees and 400 KFC stores.
Phrase: “Feed the poor and become rich or feed the rich and become poor.”
Lesson: It may not be the idea that is successful, but the execution of the strategy.
8. Mary Kay Ash , Mary Kay Cosmetics Inc.
Setback: After 25 years of selling at Stanley Home Products, Ash resigned in 1963 frustrated that the company did not consider his promotions.
Return: Ash started writing a book of advice for businesswomen and soon discovered that he had written a business plan for her. Mary Kay Cosmetics was born. The company reached $ 2.5 billion in sales in 2009.
Phrase: “For every failure, there is an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. ”
Lesson: Some of the best ideas come from personal experience.
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