If you are an entrepreneur in today’s world, it is a difficult job. There are no guarantees in any industry, but entrepreneurship is another level of uncertainty. Dreams are made and broken in the blink of an eye. Some ideas go on to become some of the greatest in the world while others never even see the light of day. And for any aspiring entrepreneurs, it’s certainly an intimidating field. But in this industry, failure is almost an expectation. Every major entrepreneur has failed at some point, and so I figured I would highlight a few of some of the world’s biggest entrepreneurs who have failed at some point only to move past it to success.
When you think of innovative and influential people, one of the first names that comes to mind is Steve Jobs. He pioneered Apple and helped to make computing a norm in society. He later pioneered the way we listen to music with the creation of the iPod and later the way we communicate with each other and the world with the iPhone. But even with his massive string of hits, Jobs’ life was riddled with failures. First and foremost, he was actually fired from Apple, the company he helped found. After he was brought back to Apple, Jobs helped to create numerous products that we use every single day, however, Apple has notoriously created some devices and products that have failed miserably, including the Newton, the Apple III and the Pippin.
I know what you’re thinking: Bill Gates founded Microsoft and he became a billionaire. That’s not failure! While it is true that he helped found Microsoft and is now a multibillionaire, he was also the founder of a little-known company called Traf-O-Data. The company analyzed data found on traffic tapes; it was Gates’ first foray into entrepreneurship and it was an utter failure. Gates had every reason to give up, but he didn’t. He pursued his dreams and is now the richest man in the world.
Walt Disney and his company are responsible for creating some of the most memorable moments of our childhoods. Almost all of us can remember a Disney movie, animated or not, with fondness. The company today is worth several billions of dollars and owns multiple properties (LucasFilm, Marvel) that are also near and dear to many people’s hearts. Clearly Disney knew what he was doing from the get-go, right? Wrong.
Disney was fired from a newspaper because he lacked creativity and his first company, Laugh-O-Gram Films went bankrupt. He, much like Bill Gates, had every reason to stop moving forward, but he persevered and made his dreams come true.
These stories are not meant to deter entrepreneurs, but to inspire them. Take these examples and know that failure is not only expected, but sometimes necessary. With failure comes a breadth of knowledge that cannot be taught in school.