Success in entrepreneurship is undoubtedly dependent upon your perseverance. It is said that only a few people can achieve greatness without first conquering the obstacles.
These four examples, two each from the past and one from the present, show perseverance in business.
Thomas Edison’s parents pulled him out of school when he was just a child. His teachers had declared that Edison was “stupid and unteachable”. Edison spent his childhood working, and was fired from many jobs. His 21st birthday saw him being fired from a telegraph firm. Edison persevered despite many setbacks. He never gave up on his true calling: inventing. Edison was awarded more than a thousand patents throughout his career. Although many of his inventions, such as the lightbulb, stock printer, phonograph, and alkaline battery, were revolutionary innovations, most of them were failures. Edison is well-known for his famous quote that genius is “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”
Edison is remembered for his perseverance even though he was already a highly successful man. He began searching for inexpensive filament after inventing the lightbulb. Ore was mined in the Midwest, which meant that shipping costs were prohibitively high. Edison set up his own ore-mining facility in Ogdensburg (New Jersey) to address this problem. Edison devoted nearly ten years of his life to the venture. Edison was also granted 47 patents to help improve the plant’s efficiency. Edison’s core project was hampered by low-quality ore from the East Coast, despite all of these inventions.
Edison did succeed despite the failure. His invention, the crushing machine, revolutionized cement manufacturing and earned him back nearly all of his money. Henry Ford would later credit Edison’s Ogdensburg Project as the main inspiration of his Model T Ford production line. Many people believe that Edison was the first to open modern industrial laboratories. Edison’s exploration of ore-mining shows that even in losing ventures, dedication can be a winning strategy.
It was a long road to reach the top of chocolate manufacturing. Hershey dropped out in 4th grade to become an apprentice to a printer. He was fired. He then became a candy-maker apprentice and started three unsuccessful candy businesses.
Hershey wasn’t giving up. After many failed attempts, Hershey founded Lancaster Caramel Company. Hershey’s caramel recipe was a great success despite the initial setbacks. Hershey realized that chocolate products had a bright future and sold Lancaster Caramel Company so that he could start Hershey Company. Hershey brought milk chocolate to the masses.
Hershey achieved his goals and overcame all failures by doing so. He also created hundreds more jobs for Pennsylvanians. His wealth was also generous, building schools, churches, houses and churches.
Perseverance does not only apply to the early stages of a person’s career. Sometimes, even after years of success, you can fail.
Steve Jobs, Apple founder and CEO, was a phenomenal success story very early on in his career. Apple was founded by Jobs at 20 from his parents’ garage. The company grew to become a $2B juggernaut in ten years. Jobs was 30 when the Apple Board of Directors fired him from the company he had founded. He found himself without a job. Jobs didn’t see this as a curse. He saw it as a chance to start new ventures. Jobs stated later that being fired was one the greatest things that had ever happened to him. It gave him the chance to think more creatively, and also allowed him to start a new business.
Jobs was fired from Apple and started NeXT Software Company and Pixar Movie Company, which produced animations such as Finding Nemo. Apple later purchased NeXT. Jobs founded these companies and helped Apple launch its current popularity with the invention and success of the iPhone and iPod. Jobs attributes his success in the workplace and his close relationship with his family to his termination from Apple.
Simon Cowell may be a pop icon and billionaire, but he was not always successful. At fifteen years old, Cowell dropped out of school and took on odd jobs. Cowell eventually received a job working in the mail room at EMI Music Publishing, where he was able to work his way into the A&R department. After EMI, Cowell formed his own publishing company, E&S Music.
Cowell’s company was forced to close its doors in its first year. Cowell ended up with a lot more debt than he expected and was forced to live with his parents. Cowell persevered and eventually got a job with Fanfare Records. Fanfare was Cowell’s employer for eight years. He was able to make the label a success. He spent many years signing musicians and cultivating talent at Fanfare before launching “American Idol” and “X-Factor,” which would make Simon Cowell a household-name.