When we talk about success, we tend to measure it with how wealthy a person is or what is the turnover of his business, but we forget to mention their business blunders which made them face failures. After all they say, “He who never made a mistake, never made a discovery”. It is not a surprising fact that even successful people suffered failure in their ways of prosecuting things. But resurrecting these mistakes and trying hard have made them successful. Here are few entrepreneurs who made a splendid come back after facing utter failures.
Company: Ford Motor Co.
Henry Ford is the founder of Ford Motor Company. In his early career, he started Detroit Automobile Co. in 1899, and arranged financers to back up the company. But the company dissolved within two years that is in 1901. Its produced cars were of low quality and were too posh for an average consumer.
Henry then decided to develop a new and much better automobile quality design, after this debacle. He hit the jackpot by making the Model T automobile, which is a well-made and low priced car. This revolutionized the transportation industry. Gradually his factories were able to meet the demands of Model Ts, which made it the most successful car in the history of automobile.
He says, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right. Building a brand requires more than just building a good product”.
Dame Anita Roddick
Company: The Body Shop
Dame Anita Roddick is the founder of ‘The Body Shop’, a well known cosmetic brand. She opened the Body Shop in Brighton, U.K., with the aim of making an income for herself, but started her business with truth rather than hype. Two of her neighboring funeral parlors objected to her brand name initially.
Anita fought back by suggesting to one of the local newspaper, that ‘she was a women entrepreneur under siege’. This whole chaos fetched publicity and brought traffic to her store. Since then, she is doing very well and has more than 700 branches of ‘Body Shop’ stores.
Anita says, “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito. Don’t let minor setbacks throw you off course.”
Frederick W. Smith
Company: Federal Express (now FedEx Corp.)
Fredrick W. Smith is the founder of the Federal Express, which is the first overnight express delivery company in the world, whose tag line was “We live to deliver”. In order to live up to his tagline, he started an electronic delivery system in 1984, called Zapmail, to compete fax machines. But this did not fetched customers well and ended with a loss of ₨17,508.84 million in 2 years.
Fredrick understood this business strategy a bit later, of acknowledging failures, avoiding bad ideas and to move on positively. He completely focused on his delivery business and successfully generated more than ₨1,750.88 billion revenue within 2010.
One of his most famous quotes is “Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves and by which they are willing to be judged.” He says, “(You should) be willing to acknowledge failure, abandon bad ideas and move on.”
Company: The Walt Disney (now Disney)
Walt Disney founded ‘Walt Disney’ production along with his brother. This cartoon animation company encountered several major financial setbacks in the late 1920s and 1930s, such as losing rights to the popular ‘Oswald’ the ‘Lucky Rabbit’ character. All this lead the company into a debt of ₨200.1 million by the early 1930s.
With a bare cash and finance to back the company, Disney pictures released “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1938. It became a blockbuster film which ultimately pulled out the company from bankruptcy. Then Walt Disney eventually built the ‘Walt Disney Studios’ in Burbank, California.
Walt says, “"You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. One killer idea can quickly make up for a series of flops”.
Company: Apple Computer
Not to mention, Steven Paul Jobs co-founded Apple. He was forced to resign from Apple in 1985, after which he spent several years to build NeXT, a computer workstation for educators, which eventually became his comeback to Apple.
Because of NeXT’s high price tag and reports of numerous bugs, its sale never materialized. Apple then announced and bought NeXT in 1996, and brought back Jobs to the company as interim CEO. This became a great turnover for the company with the success of iPod and iPad, which ultimately brought Apple in the list of most successful Fortune 500 companies of the past decade.
Steve said, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. Having the right resources and people around you makes a big difference”.
Company: Microsoft Corporation
Bill Gates along with Paul Allen started Traf-O-Data while being at high-school. Traf-O-Data was a computer business which could automatically read paper tapes from traffic counters for local governments. Regrettably, it became obsolete as the Washington state government decided to tabulate the tapes for free.
After this debacle, they got t learn how to write software for a computer. They later created Micro-Soft as a startup business, which is super successful now.
After succeeding he said, “You can learn a lot from failed endeavors. Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
Harland David Sanders
Company: Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC)
Sanders was more famous as ‘Colonel Sanders’. He was more popular for his chicken fast food at Kentucky Fried Chicken, a food chain. But in 1955, he was in deep debt, which made him sell his two decade old restaurant. After settling all his debts, he was completely broke.
He had already started franchising his chicken restaurant concept by then. He started seeking franchises and within five years had 190 franchisees and 400 Kentucky Fried Chicken locations, and the rest is history.
He used to say, “Feed the poor and get rich or feed the rich and get poor. It may not be the idea that’s unsuccessful; it may be the execution strategy”.
Mary Kay Ash
Company: Mary Kay Cosmetics
In 1963, Ash resigned from Stanley Home Products after working for 25 years there. She did so out of frustration, as the firm overlooked her promotions. Even the men, whom she used to train, used to get through the rank. She started writing a book upon women’s business plan, but soon realized, it was meant for her.
So she started her own business – Mary Kay Cosmetics. Out of rage to prove the world of a women’s will power, she ended up doing the cosmetics business well. The company made₨125.06 billion profit worldwide in 2009.
Ash believes in the fact that, “For every failure, there’s an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour. Some of the best business ideas come out of personal experience”.
He founded Wendy’s, in 1982, which is a fast-food chain specializing in hamburgers. After 13 years, he retired from Wendy’s which annoyed many customers as the breakfast menu unimpressed them. The firm’s revenue started to go down.
Out of his semi-retirement, Thomas came into the picture and acted as the company’s spokesperson in its advertisements. It worked as wonder and the company was able to stand up again.
He says, "Take care of your business and your business will take care of you”. For him, “Having a strong leader at the helm can make a world of difference in the success or failure of a company”.