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6 Company Founders Who Prove That Success Doesn’t Always Happen Overnight

6 Company Founders Who Prove That Success Doesn’t Always Happen Overnight

It's a fact that most businesses don't become multi-million dollar success stories overnight. Read about the humble beginnings of 6 global companies here.

22nd August 2019

Success can be a long road, and it can be hard for business owners to think about the long-term goals of their business rather than what’s immediate. However, success doesn’t often happen overnight and is the result of days, months and years of work. In this article, we’ll look back on 6 company founders who didn’t find success straight away.

1. Evan Williams, Twitter

The co-founder of Twitter initially had his sights set on the world of audio broadcasting. Williams had founded a company named Odeo, which was intended to host and share podcasts. It was also the company through which Twitter was initially tested. Odeo itself was not performing as expected, and could not survive in the wake of Apple’s podcasting platform. Shortly after, Twitter was founded (under the Obvious Corporation) and now has more than 261 million users worldwide (and incidentally enough, is the communication platform of choice for many politicians including the current president of the United States).

2. Colonel Sanders, KFC

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is a global fast food powerhouse, but its founder, Colonel Harland Sanders came from humble beginnings and found success later in life. Sanders was initially in the army, then went on to work as a railway labourer and studied law. After being let go from both jobs, he began selling chicken at a service station at the age of 40 and soon opened a restaurant. After World War Two when he was 65 years of age, Sanders began franchising his business and sold it for $2 million. Today, KFC has more than 18,000 locations worldwide and has a brand value of $8.5 billion.

3. Matt Mullenweg, WordPress

WordPress is a site which operates 30% of all sites on the web (including this one). Although WordPress is often referred to as a platform which took off with the advent of the internet in the early 2000s, co-creator Matt Mullenweg thinks labelling companies (and especially those in the tech industry) as overnight successes is an oversimplification. By the time WordPress had reached peak success, it had already been around for a number of years. As Mullenweg says, he smiles when he sees WordPress referred to as an overnight success. “If only they knew how long an overnight success takes” he says.

4. Howard Schultz, Starbucks

Howard Schultz started his professional working life in sales and marketing. As a travelling salesman, Schultz stumbled across a small cafe named Starbucks, and knew he had to work there. He started out in marketing and became the director of sales when Starbucks had 4 locations. 5 years later, Schultz purchased the coffee shop and became its CEO. These days, Starbucks is the largest coffee company in the world, with more than 27,000 locations worldwide.

5. Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post is one of the most widely read news and opinion blogs on the internet. One of its founders, Arianna Huffington, is always sure to emphasise that the success of the Huffington Post didn’t happen straight away. Further, she says not only her career, but also the careers of many people she knows are not linear. After receiving 36 rejections for a book she had written, Arianna had to take out a loan to keep going. A few years later, she founded the Huffington Post with Andrew Breitbart, Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti. In 2011, The Huffington Post, which started as a blog, was acquired by AOL for $315 million.

6. Steve Jobs, Apple Inc.

Perhaps the most famous example of a company becoming hugely successful after failing is Apple, and more pertinently, Steve Jobs. When Jobs founded Apple in the 1970s, his vision for changing the way people interacted with technology was perfectionistic to say the least. By the mid -1980s, Jobs was at loggerheads with Apple’s CEO, John Sculley. Jobs was then fired from Apple and went on to start another company called NeXT. In 1997, Apple acquired NeXT and Jobs found himself back at Apple, where he was soon appointed interim CEO. By 2000, Jobs was Apple’s permanent CEO and went on to help it become the most valuable brand in the world.

When you have an idea for a business and you truly believe in it, it can be easy to think that you’re going to reap the rewards straight away. However, as the companies above show, setbacks aren’t the end of your business, but rather, they’re an opportunity to learn and make your business even better in the future.

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Author
Jackie Olling

Jackie is the Content Manager at Lawpath and manages the content team. She has a Law/Arts (Politics) degree from Macquarie University and is an admitted solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW. She's interested in how technology can help shape the future legal landscape.