5 Entrepreneurs Who Failed Before Becoming Successful

Fortunately, there are 25 more options to try if Plan A doesn’t work. Six of the world’s most successful businessmen are among those who have experienced initial setbacks. All of the greatest businessmen in history had their fair share of setbacks before finally finding success. Realize that setbacks are not the finish of the road; rather, they are opportunities to learn and improve for the journey ahead.

1. Milton Hershey


After launching two other confectionery businesses, Milton Hershey ultimately established what is now recognized across the globe as Hershey’s.
His goal was to become a writer, however, he was let go from his employment due to a lack of talent, and this failure finally drove him down the route of candy making. In 1890, he and his brother William launched the Lancaster Caramel Works in eastern Pennsylvania, but the business collapsed after just a couple of years, partly due to a major lack of market for the candies.

2. Oprah


While working on her first TV show in Baltimore, Oprah was relegated to a journalistic role after a supervisor deemed her “unsuitable for Television news.” She found her calling as a storyteller when she began working as a journalist, and it was in documenting the lives of the common folk who make up our planet. Oprah’s talk show quickly became a hit and ran for over 440 segments over the course of 25 years on network television.

3. JK Rowling


In 1992, when J.K. Rowling was jobless, separated, and the mother of a young child, Harry Potter had already been denied by 12 publications. Within her bag, she found three Harry Potter chapters. Yet, she persisted in her penning until she had completed a book.

“It’s impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”

4. Walt Disney


Although Walt Disney worked as a paper boy, he was never hired for any of the positions he sought for. After two years, he tried starting his independent animation studio on his own and failed miserably under the name Laugh-O-Gram Studio. During the making of Snow White, Walt nearly declared bankruptcy again but was rescued by a credit from a commercial bank. The current market cap of the Walt Disney Corporation is $130 billion.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

5. Colonel Sanders


It wasn’t until Colonel Sanders was in his 60s that he finally found commercial triumph. His previous employment history includes time in the military, on a locomotive, and with a petroleum firm. Harland Sanders was left broke after he owned a restaurant for many years. His initial social security payment was $105; he invested it in founding KFC after retiring, and the rest is history.

6. Jeff Bezos


While attempting to compete with eBay, Jeff Bezos built a site called zShops, which had identical vendors, shops, processing fees, and a basic consumer interface, but ultimately failed because zShops merchants just plastered their sites with eBay branding and hyperlinks to their eBay stores instead. Fast forward to the future and now Amazon is one of the biggest commercial giants in the world.