More often than not, a grand success is built on previous failures. So accept setbacks for what they are, stepping-stones to success. By Satyaki Sarkar
When it comes to entrepreneurship, failures are as integral to the journey as successes. A great entrepreneur is not one who never suffers a failure or setback, but rather learns from it and uses it to move ahead and build on it. Failures are lessons, stepping-stones to success, so instead of focussing on being overwhelmed by them, use them to sharpen your mind, hone your skills and learn what not to do. That’s how some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs got over debilitating failures and went on to achieve their dreams.
1. Arianna Huffington, Co-founder of The Huffington Post
Before taking over the world with her news and opinion website, Ariana Huffington was an author who had been trying to make a mark for herself in the literary world. However, in spite of all her efforts she had to face as many as 36 rejections for her second book. That, however, did not stop her as she eventually went on to found The Huffington Post. Obstacles and doubts didn’t end there either, as the website received mixed reviews, with one reviewer calling it “the equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar, and Heaven’s Gate rolled into one.” Today, however, The Huffington Post is popular the world over and Arianna Huffington is now a household name.
Photograph: David Shankbone/Flickr
2. Mark Cuban, businessman, author, TV personality, and philanthropist
After graduating from Indiana University, Mark Cuban tried his hand at various odd jobs, but he was not good at any of them. He tried everything from bartending and cooking to being a salesman. None of them worked out. Less than a year into his job as a salesman selling computers he was fired for insubordination. Mark finally decided to set up something on his own. The following year he founded a software consultancy company called MicroSolutions. He sold the company seven years later at a price of $6 million, and founded Broadcast.com, which he later sold for $5.7 billion. Today, Mark is valued at an astounding $3.4 billion and is the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, co-owner of 2929 Entertainment and chairman of AXS TV, one of the stars of the popular American television series Shark Tank, besides investments in countless leading companies and business ventures. He says his failures taught him to have faith in his own judgement and abilities, and never stop until he reached a place where his skills and talents were not only celebrated, but put to their best use.
Photograph: Shark Tank/ABC
3. Vera Ellen Wang, Founder of Vera Wang
Before becoming one of the most famous bridal wear designers in the world, Vera Wang was an aspiring Olympic figure-skater, trying to join the 1968 US Olympic figure-skating team. However, her dreams did not materialise, as she failed at the Championships, and thus, decided to pursue fashion. Starting off by working for Vogue, she slowly worked her way up to becoming the senior fashion editor, but was overlooked for the position of editor-in-chief. Leaving the company, she became a design director for Ralph Lauren. At the time of her engagement to husband Arthur Becker in 1989, she was so frustrated by the limited choices in bridal wear, that she designed her own gown. The very next year, she opened her own bridal boutique in the Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue in New York City, and today the Vera Wang brand has become one of the most elite, widely celebrated name in bridal wear.
Photograph: Christopher Peterson/Creative Commons
4. Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft
Renowned tech visionary Bill Gates was working with his classmate Paul Allen at Seattle’s Lakeside High School on a software that was intended to optimise traffic and eliminate road congestion. Their first demo for local county officials, however, tanked, and the project had to be completely given up when the state of Washington offered to solve the problem for free. Not ones to let their failure stop them, the duo taught themselves how to write software and created a startup called Micro-Soft in 1975. Today, it’s highly unlike anyone in the world who is not aware of Bill Gates and the legendary tech company he built, making him the richest man in the world, for consecutive years, to boot!
Photograph: TNS Sofres/Flickr
5. Dave Ramsey, businessman, author, and radio host
Today a leading financial guru and bestselling author, Dave Ramsey had actually lost it all in life before finding the road back to success. During his college years, Dave had ended up acquiring over $4 million worth of properties, while he had a net worth of about $1 million. As a result of the incredibly vast amounts of debt, he had to sell of all of his assets, till he was left with nothing. Taking it as a lesson, Dave worked his way through it, building up his finances again, and went on to start a radio show called The Money Game, where he would share his story with listeners, with the aim of helping them not make the same mistakes. Today, his show, renamed The Dave Ramsey Show, is not only broadcast on over 500 radio stations in the US and Canada, but he has authored four New York Times bestsellers, and his financial lessons are taught to students all over the country.