3 Successful People Whose Business Started with Failure

Posted on 13th February 2017 in Business

Written by James Marren

After revealing multiple labels had initially turned him away, Jay-Z once said that the real genius move of his career was not giving up. It’s those second-chance success stories that become the stuff of legend. Moments of failure are so likely to be a part of our individual journey, particularly in business, that the sooner we resolve ourselves to this fact, and carry on pushing forward, the better. After all, they’re not going to be able to make a great Hollywood movie of your life without the part where you rise like a phoenix! Here are three formerly unsuccessful business owners, whose scripts are probably being handed around already…

Evan Williams

WilliamTwitter's Evan Williamss is famously known as the Co-Founder of Twitter, but before that, he tried to develop a podcasting platform called Odeo. The reason you may not have heard this name before is because, quite simply, it failed to take off. It’s been claimed that Apple had a lot to do with when they launched the podcast section of iTunes.

Clearly, Williams didn’t let one failed product put him off and, with his Co-Founder Biz Stone, they decided to take some time off and try to develop something that they were passionate about. They meditated upon what they were good at and very quickly, a prototype for Twitter was born. Despite some early reservations from within his own team, I think we can safely say that the idea caught on! Are you a Twitter fan? Because you can follow us here.

Read more here.

Kathryn Minshew
The Muse

Kathryn MinshewMinshew had invested all her savings in PYP Media before a dispute with her Co-Founders meant that she lost all access to the website and all the money she had invested.

Minshew recalls,

“I spent three weeks alternating between the fetal position and the whiteboard trying to figure out how strongly I wanted to fight for the existing company vs how prepared I was to strike out and do it over.”

She opted for the ‘do it over’ option and launched The Muse, a career-development platform, in September 2011. In just one year, the website attracted nearly 2 million users from more than 160 countries.

Minshew says. “It was painful, but being forced to start over was a unique sort of gift, because having been through a lot together, the team comes out of it with the confidence that nothing is going to stop us.”

Read more here.

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel had significant struggles before hitting it big with Paypal and investing in Facebook. Calrium Capital, his early hedge fund, lost 90% of its assets on the stock market, which resulted in a loss of several billion dollars.

Thiel’s seems like a classic failure to success story, however, unlike many others, his advice is quite different. He argues that failure teaches us to be less ambitious than we were in an attempt to avoid further failure, which some would argue is a failure in itself. Let’s bare in mind Thiel’s words, “the belief that it is hard but possible to build a great business is an extremely effective tool.”

Read more here.

So before we all go out and sabotage ourselves to create the perfect Hollywood script, let’s take stock and remember that we still want to prevent catastrophic failure at all costs. Preparing your mind and business is critical – make sure you have the right process and people around you.

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