No matter how many times we hear that failure is good for us, we still try to avoid it at all costs. We understand when starting an online business that there is a risk of failure, but do everything in our power to steer clear of it.
What if we embraced failure the way we do the hope of success? How much more beneficial would our missteps and mistakes be? As you look to future, don’t be afraid to fail. Your greatest success may be just around the corner, but you’ll only get there if you keep walking.
You may be familiar with Thomas Edison’s famous quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Imagine if Edison chose to give up after failing, or refused to start in the first place, knowing that his first 10,000 attempts to create the lightbulb would be unsuccessful. Those 10,000 failures made our world brighter; will you let your failures change the world, or just bring you down?
Here are a few modern entrepreneurs who, like Edison, worked through their failures to become the successes they are today. Let their stories inspire your own.
The Profitless Pitchers
Getting others to see your vision is no easy task. When you need funding for a start-up, though, you have few other choices. Two working mothers were driven by an idea to help kids appreciate geography and the world around them through mail-delivered activity kits. What they saw as a brilliant cause didn’t stick so well with potential funders. Not one of the 75 funders they originally pitched their idea to chose to invest in their business. None of the funders believed these mothers could make such a business work.
But that didn’t stop Amy Norman and Stella Ma, the founders of Little Passports. Not receiving venture capital turned out to be a blessing for their business. Because of their setbacks in funding, Norman and Ma had to be more careful with their expenses, but in the process grew gradually and sustainably.
Today, Little Passports is a thriving company, making about $30 million in revenue last year alone. Norman and Ma’s financial discipline, as Norman describes it, is paying off every day. She says, “We had to stand on our own two feet early on,” but now they have a network of followers, employees and angel investors who believe in their dream.
At 22 years old, this entrepreneur was already $726,000 in debt. He felt the entrepreneurial spirit, but every business venture left him with less and less money. Needing a change, he shifted his priorities from simply making money, to helping others. As he says, “I was trying to serve myself instead of serving my audience,” and up to that point, this mindset wasn’t helping his businesses.
Scott Oldford’s dedication to others finally provided him with the business model he needed to become a success. Now, only three years later, Oldford has gotten himself out of debt by starting up a mentorship and consulting business for other small companies. His business, Infinitus, continues to make millions as Oldford keeps choosing to focus beyond himself and his own gain.
Originally an engineer by trade, this entrepreneur saw a problem to be fixed and pursued his own solution. The problem? He found that his vacuum cleaner was becoming less and less efficient. A simple problem, but one that a determined entrepreneur knew he was capable of fixing.
For 5 years, he worked creating prototype after prototype for a bagless vacuum cleaner that would revolutionize the industry. After 5,127 failed prototypes he found the model he was looking for. This vacuum cleaner quickly gained attention and praise, turning one man’s vision into a worldwide corporation that continues to search for solutions to our everyday problems.
This entrepreneur’s name is Sir James Dyson, and he is now worth over $4 billion. Looking back at where he began, this now successful business owner notes that despite the challenges that come from “a mountain of solvable problems,” he enjoys embracing failure if it means finding a greater solution. Dyson saw this firsthand when working on his first vacuum model. He says, “I got to a place I never could have imagined because I learned what worked and didn’t work.”
Want to hear more success stories? Check back with us each week for motivational stories that will inspire you to always keep moving forward, even and especially during moments of failure.