Business, Entrepreneurship
November 18, 2021
3 Reminders that entrepreneurship success doesn’t happen overnight
3 Reminders that entrepreneurship success doesn’t happen overnight

By Felicia Guthrie

As an entrepreneur, there are likely going to be days, weeks, months, even years, when you feel like you’re toiling away with little reward. You may see other entrepreneurs reaching huge milestones, maybe even achieving “overnight success.” While it can feel like everyone is going viral or blowing up overnight, the reality is that for most entrepreneurs, success doesn’t happen overnight. It can take years and it can include a lot of obstacles (and adapting) along the way. And, you may be thinking about someone else’s entrepreneurship success and think it’s unreachable and unrealistic compared to where you are right now, but why can’t YOU be a huge success?!

Today, we’re taking a peek at three well known entrepreneurs that remind us that entrepreneurship success doesn’t happen overnight.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney is a HUGE name. Most of us are familiar with Disney, and we can see the popularity of Disney transcend so many categories, from trinkets, to toys, to books, and even streaming platforms. Most of us have heard about the man behind Disney, and even perhaps hearing some myths (like that he’s cryogenically frozen), but what you may not know is that he faced some major setbacks before striking it big with Disney.

In the early 1920’s Walt joined forces with animator Ub Iwerks to create the joint studio “Laugh-O-Grams.” Unfortunately, after only a short time in business, they failed and filed for bankruptcy. Soon after, Walt moved to Hollywood to pursue becoming a director and established “Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio” with his brother Roy, which would later be renamed to “Walt Disney Studios” in 1926. Later in 1927, Walt and Ub were contracted by Charles Mintz to create animations based on a character named, “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” for Universal Studios. As the cartoons began to succeed, Walt travelled to New York to approach Mintz for a larger budget, instead Mintz refused and actually tried to take over Walt Disney Studio. Mintz retained the rights to the feature and Walt would return to L.A.

After all of this, Walt continued to pursue animation, creating Mickey Mouse in 1928 to much success. But that’s not the end to a little bad luck. Not all of Walt’s films were successful, Bambi (1942), Pinocchio (1940), and Fantasia (1940), for example, were not commercially successful.

Today Disney is a massive success. However, history shows a clear picture of an entrepreneur who faced several obstacles but succeeded through passion and determination.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is one of the biggest names in entertainment. She has had a long and iconic career, but she did struggle in both her personal and professional life. Oprah was born into poverty to a single mother and grew up in inner-city Milwaukee. As a child and adolescent, Oprah moved around a lot, living with her mother, grandmother, and her father. After becoming pregnant at 14 and getting kicked out by her mother, she moved to her father’s in Nashville, where she later attended Tennessee State University. At 19, she began working in broadcasting in Nashville. In 1976 she moved to Baltimore, Maryland and continued working as a news anchor. Eventually, she made the switch to morning television after an opportunity arose to host a morning show. From there her popularity skyrocketed as she resonated with many viewers. Today, she’s a mega successful entertainer and entrepreneur.

She’s definitely proof that you can overcome your lowest moments and become a success.

Harland Sanders

Harland Sanders (aka Colonel Sanders) is a giant in the world of fast food but he didn’t gain success until a lot later in life. Prior to opening KFC, he had tried and even failed at many different jobs. He is believed to have worked as a farmhand, a streetcar conductor, an insurance salesman, and even on railroads. At the age of 40, Sanders was running a gas station in Kentucky and began serving food to people passing through. After several years, Sanders then opened “Sander’s Café” in 1937, which was able to accommodate more customers. Only 2 years later, a devastating fire destroyed the café. Sanders decide to rebuild his restaurant, this time as a motel as well (are you imagining a KFC hotel!?). The hardships don’t stop there. After several years, a new highway was built, bringing customers away from his café. Sanders later opened his first “Kentucky Fried Chicken” franchise in 1952. After building his business, he sold the company in 1964. Fun fact: Did you know Colonel Sanders lived in Mississauga, Ontario?!

He tried his hand at many things and became successful a lot later in life, it shows that you can start or expand a business at any age and that you can become successful despite any hardships you may face.

Success takes a lot of work, it takes persistence, and resilience, and even some adapting, and all of these entrepreneurs are examples of that. So, when you reach an obstacle that feels impossible to get over, when things just aren’t going right, or when you fail, remember that it’s not final. You can turn things around.

We also want to stress something that we think is huge. Success will look different for everyone. Think about what success means to you. Is it a feeling? Is it something tangible? Is it a certain accomplishment? How success is measured depends entirely on you. YOU define your success, don’t forget that. Stop measuring your success by someone else’s definition and timeline.

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