Fall seven times, stand up eight.
Today I’d like to continue my thoughts on small businesses, more specifically, the fear of failure. We have all had them: epic failures. Shoot, in my family, the word “fail,” is used quite often. I absolutely hate to fail at anything, and yet, I frequently do fall short. It’s a fact of life, this failure thing, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence on the way to living our dreams.
The magnificent city of Rome and its buildings old and new were not built in a day. And neither were the successful, go-down-in-history type family endeavors which color our day-to-day lives. If a project or passion you’re working on is currently not working out, consider these stories before pulling the plug. These historical figures hit rock bottom, leaving them nowhere to go but up. Your low point may be bringing you one step closer to success.
Failure is not the opposite of success; it is part of success.
Take a look at these five failures, in detail, as taken from Business Families Foundation.
- 1. R.H. Macy
The iconic department store in New York City, Macy’s, was founded by R.H. Macy at the age of 36. But prior to his success, Macy had launched and failed four different retail stores in Massachusetts.
- Walt Disney The amusement parks, movies and merchandise that define the childhood of millions of people around the world were started by two brothers Walt and Roy Disney. Walt Disney, the creative force behind the company, was originally fired from his newspaper job because he “lacked imagination and good ideas”. He failed a series of companies, including his first animation company which went bankrupt in 1921, forcing the artist to eat dog food to survive. After more false starts, the brothers finally founded the Disney Brothers Cartoon studio in 1923.
- Henry Ford
In 1899, an engineer working the nightshift at the Edison Illuminating Company quit his comfortable job to join many others who believed they could create an automobile with a gas-powered engine. Henry Ford had produced two working prototypes and was seeking capital to produce his invention at a larger scale. However, after obtaining $150,000 in investment, the production of the vehicle was still too complicated. In 1901, the company went bankrupt. Still believing in his ability, the same investors backed Henry Ford a second time, bringing in a supervisor to ensure that the invention would make it to production. But the interference did not suit the inventor and he soon left the company. If the odds were not already against him, now they definitely were. Henry Ford lost his investors’ money twice, and, some believed, permanently damaged his reputation in the industry. But Henry Ford was undeterred. To his friends and family, he explained that the investors were not willing to give him enough time to work through the kinks.
Four years after quitting his job, Henry Ford finally found the right investor, willing to give him full control over the production process. The Ford Motor Company was established in 1903 and the inventor was the first to introduce the automobile to the mass-market with the Model T. Today, Ford is a publicly listed company controlled through shares by the Ford family.
- The Wright Brothers
The Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, are best known for flying the first powered, controlled, heavier-than-air airplane in 1903. What is less known are the years of failures and hardships which led to their success. Though raised in an intellectually encouraging environment, neither brother received a high school diploma. At the age of 18, Wilbur Wright was hit in the face with a hockey stick, causing him to lose his front teeth. In the following four years, he was thought to have suffered from depression and a heart disorder. He stayed at home in the late 1880s, caring for his mother who was dying from tuberculosis.
In 1886, tragedy hit again. The Wright’s inspiration for manned flights, German engineer, Otto Lilienthal, died in his own creation in 1886. The brothers themselves worked for three years with kites before discovering the setup which would allow for controlled, manned flight.
The Wright brothers remained committed to each other and to their craft, never marrying. In the end, Orville Wright died of a heart attack at age 77. Wilbur Wright died much earlier, from typhoid, at age 45.
- Jay-Z & Beyoncé
Arguably one of the most financially successful rappers today, is Jay-Z, born Shawn Corey Carter. In his early 20s, Carter was turned down by all the record labels in his business. He was told he was too old, not “hard” enough (he did not rap about drugs or crime). But instead of abandoning his dream, he released his own album on his own label at the age of 26. When Jay-Z was offered a weak deal from a clothing brand who was benefiting from his endorsements, he rejected it and started his own clothing line to compete with the brand. Today, Jay-Z and his wife, Beyoncé, are worth an estimated $900 million. The couple welcomed their first baby in 2012.
How motivated are you?
Time after time, I talk to people dreaming of entering into a small business. Money and time management aside, the fear of failure is the biggest stumbling block I see when I look at the various situations of new entrepreneurs. It is ever present and while we will never erase the fear of failure, the act of failure should not be a deterrent to realizing one’s dream.
Never ever, ever give up on your dreams. Dreams are what make you—you!
Living the Dream,