Failure is a part of business. Very few entrepreneurs ever make it big without first experiencing some massive failures. What truly matters is how you react to and learn from that failure. It is “an opportunity to learn and grow” and that some of the experiences that we go through in our lives (particularly the bad the ones)–often times turn out to be blessings in disguise.
Here are the 10 famous entrepreneurs who failed big before becoming successful,
1. Bill Gates
Bill Gates is now one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, but he didn’t earn his fortune in a straight line to success. Gates entered the entrepreneurial scene with a company called Traf-O-Data, which aimed to process and analyze the data from traffic tapes (think of it like an early version of big data).
He tried to sell the idea alongside his business partner, Paul Allen, but the product barely even worked. It was a complete disaster. However, the failure did not hold Gates back from exploring new opportunities, and a few years later, he created his first Microsoft product, and forged a new path to success.
2. Walt Disney
Walt Disney is the businessman behind the very successful theme park “Walt Disney World“. Walt Disney was reportedly fired by a newspaper editor for not having good ideas and no imagination.
Trying to persevere, Disney formed his first animation company, which was called Laugh-O-Gram Films. He raised $15,000 for the company but eventually was forced to close Laugh-O-Gram, following the close of an important distributor partner. Disney World is currently valued at $35 Billion dollars.
3. Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is an impressive entrepreneur because of his boundless innovations, but also because of his emphatic comeback from an almost irrecoverable failure. Jobs found success in his 20s when Apple became a massive empire, but when he was 30, Apple’s board of directors decided to fire him.
Jobs founded a new company, NeXT, which was eventually acquired by Apple. Once back at Apple, Jobs proved his capacity for greatness by reinventing the company’s image and taking the Apple brand to new heights.
4. Oprah Winfrey
Hailed as the “ Queen of Daytime Talk TV” Winfrey was fired from her news reporter gig at a Baltimore news station. Oprah went on to build a successful following from her daytime talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Oprah’s net worth is currently valued at 2.7 billion dollars.
5. Tim Ferris
Known for his best selling book “The 4 Hour Workweek” was turned down by 25 publishers before it was finally picked up. Tim’s book went on to sell millions of copies making him a force to be reckoned with in the Entrepreneurship landscape.
6. Arianna Huffington
It’s hard to believe that one of the most recognizable names in online publications was once rejected by three dozen major publishers. Huffington’s second book, which she tried to publish long before she created the now ubiquitously recognizable Huffington Post empire, was rejected 36 times before it was eventually accepted for publication.
Obviously, Huffington overcame those initial bouts of failure and has cemented her name as one of the most successful outlets on the web.
7. Jeff Bezos
Amazon is one of the biggest success stories of the online era. But before Amazon became a household name, the company’s CEO had several failed ideas. One of the most notable was an online auction site, which evolved into zShops, a brand that ultimately failed. Still, CEO Jeff Bezos would repurpose the idea into what would eventually become the Amazon Marketplace.
8. Larry Ellison
Ellison’s company, Oracle, has had its share of ups and downs. After Ellison dropped out of college and worked as a programmer for eight years, he co-founded the company with his former boss. But Oracle struggled for years before making it big. Ellison even had to mortgage his house to obtain a line of credit to keep the business afloat during that time.
9. Peter Thiel
Before starting PayPal and investing in big names like Facebook, Thiel lost big. His early hedge fund, Clarium Capital, lost 90 percent of its $7 billion assets on the stock market, currencies and oil prices. Still greater success lay ahead.
10. Reid Hoffman
Before co-founding LinkedIn and investing in big names like PayPal and Airbnb, Hoffman created SocialNet, an online dating and social networking site that ultimately failed.