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Five entrepreneurs who failed massively before huge success

Colonel Sanders

Entrepreneur Ajaero Tony Martins says the fastest way to create a successful business from scratch is to fail fast.

Some of the most successful and famous people we know today, such as former President Donald Trump, all started by failing.

It took the people on this list many knockbacks and a lot of hard work to get where they are today.

Some teetered on the verge of complete failure, but managed to recover and now are very wealthy indeed.


Walt Disney – Disney

Walt Disney, creator of one of the most vivid, imaginative and wonderful worlds in the history of entertainment, was once told he lacked creativity and didn't have any ideas.

The famous animator wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist from a young age, but unfortunately, most people rejected his work.

It was here this, rather misjudged, comment was made.

Then aged just 22, he founded his first cartoon studio, but a business deal that went wrong bankrupted the business.

However, if it weren't for this failure, he would never have taken the trip to LA that changed his life forever.

He set off to LA with simply a shirt, two undershorts, two pairs of socks, and drawing equipment.

Although his dream to become an actor never happened, this was when he founded Disney studios with Roy, his brother.

During World War II, the US army took over Disney studios and converted them into a repair shop for artillery and tanks. Disney and his animators were sent to war.

The fact that all its staff were engaged in combat had a detrimental effect on the business, which racked up massive debts for the time of $4 million.

Although it had begun to circulate in Europe, it had problems getting finance in the U.S.

So, they began making feature films overseas, and now Walt Disney is a worldwide business still succeeding.

Colonel Harland Sanders – KFC

Famously known as the man with a beard and big glasses in the KFC logo, Colonel Sanders was fired from many jobs before starting KFC.

In 1967, at 65 years old, Sanders was broke, due to construction work on a road that put him out of business.

He ended up living in his car and driving around, stopping at more than 1,000 restaurants attempting to sell his chicken recipe, wanting a nickel commission on each chicken sold.

It wasn't till he was 75 when he finally sold his chicken restaurant business for $15m.

Unfortunately, Sanders didn't find fame before dying at the age of 90, but his legacy went on through the KFC logo.

Henry Ford – Ford Motor Co

Henry Ford started his business venture with the Detroit Automobile Company, which went bankrupt in 1901 because of high prices and low-quality products.

However, he refused to give up there.

He changed and made improvements to his first company to make a new one naming it Henry Ford Company.

However, yet again, it collapsed, but this time due to a disagreement.

We have all heard the saying third time lucky.

Well, this was especially true in his third attempt.

He was close to failing for the third time because the low sales made it impossible to pay back investors. Before it was about to collapse again, angel investors saved the business, and Ford Motor Co. was born.

In 2022 and 2023 the company shed jobs as it focused on electric cars.

Donald Trump – the Trump Organisation

Donald Trump founded the Trump Organisation in 1980 to overlook his real estate.

However, in 1990, he was over $9 billion in debt.

This was partly due to the recession affecting many of his projects and extreme leveraging.

His company wouldn't have survived if it wasn't for around 70 banks' bailout pacts.

It wasn't just the once his business almost failed; it was twice.

Not long after the first problem, he managed to rack up a personal debt of over $1 billion. But he used all the resources he had and saved the business.

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Richard Branson – Virgin

Branson's first business venture was running a student magazine, which he got arrested for as he broke laws on publishing advice on remedies for venereal disease.

By the age of 20, Branson had already launched the Virgin Records shop, which encountered many cash-flow problems, despite sales being high.

He had to pay off an overdraft, so Branson faked buying records for export to avoid tax on sales.

In 1984 Virgin Atlantic was founded, starting with just one jumbo jet for a year.

In the Government certification flight, birds flew into an engine, causing an explosion. Branson had to take cash from his financial subsidiaries and rebuild the business.

After battling British Airways in court, he had to sell Virgin Music in 1992 to Thorn EMI.

Branson's path to success was far from straightforward, but it was worth it as the British billionaire now lives on his own private island in the British Virgin Islands.

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