12 spectacular business success stories that wouldn’t arise without failures and mistakes at the beginning
Failure is almost inherent in any success. It’s the kind of path that just looks like going from failure to failure. If it were otherwise – almost everyone would achieve spectacular success without much effort. The owners of the largest companies that have achieved global success know perfectly well that every stumble is not a reason to give up, but to find a new way of acting. Sometimes it turns out that it is a painful failure or a huge mistake at the beginning of the business path that caused the company to go in a different direction than before – towards the top, leaving all the competition behind. It is no different for the largest companies that you know very well, such as Google and Facebook. Read 12 spectacular business success stories that wouldn’t have happened without failures and mistakes right from the start.
FedEx, a US shipping and logistics company, delivers approximately 1.2 billion shipments annually. The founder of FedEx, the world’s first courier company, Frederick W Smith, was a student at Yale University in 1965 and analyzed the market for traditional mail delivery times. In those days, parcels and letters were only delivered by traditional mail, using traditional transport, roads, cars and postmen. He proposed a system that will expedite shipments using airplanes and deliveries in one day. His professor at the university did not consider the idea something real and questioned the point of such a service, arguing that no one would pay much more for faster deliveries. Frederick Smith started the business with inheritance, loans and equity investments. Unfortunately, just two years after starting its operation, the company fell into financial trouble and was on the verge of bankruptcy. It got to a point where the pilots themselves had to pay for the plane fuel bill using private money. Frederick, due to his lack of faith that the company’s situation could improve, went to Vegas and decided to play blackjack – then he won the amount that allowed the company to survive one more week. However, it was the money Smith later obtained to help stabilize the company’s finances that allowed him to record the company’s first greater profit. FedEx currently owns 660 aircraft and operates in approximately 220 countries. The story of blackjack is just about being lucky. However, it was Smith’s quick reaction to a bad financial situation, as well as instant money acquisition and failure to duplicate mistakes that led to early bankruptcy that allowed the company to succeed and be one of the leading companies in the industry.
The Chinese communist company, founded in 1985 as Qingdao Refrigerator Co., producing household appliances, hired a young, ambitious but inexperienced business, Zhang Ruimin as chairman of the board. From his first day on the job, Zhang faced a major problem with the company’s liquidity and decided that he would personally obtain funding. Believing in the future greatness and his own vision of the company, he lent the company his own money and asked local financial institutions and local authorities for support and credit for the company. After this problem was resolved, however, another, bigger one emerged: he received loads of customer letters about the poor quality of refrigerators produced and supplied by this local home appliance manufacturer. Unfortunately at the time, it was standard in China’s communist economy. However, he decided to make employees aware that by producing defective refrigerators they would not survive on the market. He invited all employees to the main hall of the company, asked for all defective refrigerators that did not meet customer expectations to be delivered to that hall, took a pickaxe, and began to publicly, personally destroy the defective refrigerators. Each of these broken fridges was the equivalent of hundreds of the salaries of the average company employee, and thus shocked the employees. At that time, only the richest Chinese could afford their own refrigerator. This action made employees aware that each of their activities and their involvement translates into the final quality of products delivered to customers. In addition to the lack of quality control, the company also struggled with problems such as poor infrastructure, ineffective management and a lack of business and marketing strategy. Ruimin slowly coped with these challenges, changing the company’s name to Haier, buying out its biggest competitor Red Star Electric Appliance Factory, becoming the most recognizable manufacturer of household appliances in China, then throughout Asia, and in 2016, as part of the implementation of the global strategy, the company acquired the largest manufacturer of household appliances in the USA, General Electrics Appliances. Currently, Haier is one of the leading companies in the household appliances industry and competes with brands such as Bosch and Whirlpool. In 2013, the company achieved success in the form of the highest share in the household appliances market in the world.
3. General Electrics
Setting up a company is often associated with the environment’s doubts about the idea itself. When General Electrics was formed with the merger of Edison Electric Light Company and Thomson-Houston Company, few believed that this business could enter the market. Before Thomas Edison discovered the light bulb, he made about 10,000 attempts to prove the existence of electricity to humans. Both Edison and General Electrics have achieved spectacular success, and many of the patents and business methods that he has implemented are still used today. Edison himself is now recognized as one of the most distinguished Americans of his time.
“Sometimes you have to survive a disaster to get on the right track” Jack Welch, President of General Electrics
You know Pixar? You may not know the name of this label (it eventually became part of The Walt Disney Company in 2006), but you are surely familiar with the animated movie Toy Story, which was produced by them. Despite their commercial success, the employees of Toy Story genuinely hated their job. When Edwin Catmull, the president of Pixar, found out about it, he was quite shocked. Despite the open door policy, none of the employees had previously expressed their negative opinion. The film hired former freelance workers and, having a safe job in production, didn’t want to be seen as complaining. When Edwin realized that three-quarters of employees hate their work, he began to create a different organizational culture to enable them to better work conditions. This situation made him realize that creating a company is associated with enormous challenges in every area.
Another example, this time from our Polish IT backyard, shows how you can recover from financial problems and get to the top. Brand24’s best known product is a tool for monitoring the Internet and social media. The company needed PLN 100,000 to start its operations, but no investor was interested in the offer. This is a perfect example of how a good product will defend itself – it is thanks to the first positive opinions that the company gained international popularity. Currently, the company generates revenues of several million and serves companies such as IKEA and Intel.
Alibaba is the Chinese equivalent of Amazon, and its current market value is over $ 400 billion. For the founder of this company, the beginnings were also not colorful. Jack Ma couldn’t find a job after graduation – and his application was even rejected by KFC! Today, Ma is one of the richest 20 people in the world, and his story can inspire anyone who wants to start a business but is afraid of failure. This entrepreneur is a perfect example of how much we want to be successful, despite the difficult start, it is perfectly feasible.
Henry Ford is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in automotive history. From an early age, he was fascinated by technology and became interested in cars. Before he launched the famous Ford T, he had several companies that went bankrupt. In addition to the difficult entrepreneurial beginnings, the company claiming a car manufacturing patent wanted to impose fees on Ford plants, which resulted in a 6-year lawsuit (the lawsuit against Ford was rejected). Henry Ford was successful not only in business. It changed the perception of cars as a privilege for the richest people, into a generally accessible means of transport for people around the world. His person has greatly influenced today’s car production model and comfortable and accessible traveling.
One of the most expensive companies in the world today began with a serious investment by Jeff Bezos in an online bookstore. Jeff in the 90s. guessed the internet would be the future of business and quit his current job to build a business. However, a moment after opening the company, he encountered the first problem – he was sued by another company for spreading the slogan that his company is the largest bookstore in the world. Subsequently, another company, a supermarket, accused him of divulging the company’s secrets by hiring former employees. Another failure was Amazon Auctions, which was supposed to compete with eBay, and the project did not succeed. These failures and the lessons from them translated into the final success that Amazon achieved. And what was his key to this success? First of all, a clearly defined vision, goal of the company and treating every mistake and failure as a lesson for the future.
The iPhone is not the first touchscreen device to hit the market. However, no company has so far achieved such a spectacular success in this industry and has reopened the tablet market. However, in 1984, when Steve Jobs introduced his first Macintosh computer, its sales turned out to be a total flop. The company then promoted its hardware as a computer as “for the rest of us.” After his failure, the password had to be changed and Jobs had to think about a new campaign. After changing the slogan to the computer “for the best of us”, computers began to be promoted as “the better” in the market. The Apple business itself began its story in a garage, and a moment after starting one of Steve Jobs’ partners, he wanted to cooperate. After expanding the company intensively and hiring a lot of employees, Steve Jobs was fired from the company he was setting up with such difficulty by one of the employees who hired him. Apart from marketing problems, the company encountered other problems, such as technical and financial problems. When Steve Jobs died in 2011, he left behind a company worth $ 300 billion and below, one of the most modern offices in the world.
Having a Facebook account is often compared to “being online”. You would laugh at it if it were not true – it is the most popular social networking site and you certainly don’t know much about people who do not have a profile there. Mark Zuckerberg, now one of the richest people in the world and founder of Facebook, was working on another site known as Facemash before he got to the current version of Facebook. It was quite a primitive application for comparing the attractiveness of students and creating a ranking of the “sexiest” ones. Mark was then threatened with expulsion from the school, which had to be closed for several days. It is worth mentioning that the creator of Facebook has been repeatedly accused of using personal data and picking up someone else’s ideas. Despite so many failures, Facebook is the most famous social medium today, and the site itself is valued at around $ 165 billion.
When Sergey Brin and Larry Page started to create Google, there were already over a dozen search engines in the market, including the largest one – Yahoo. Students fascinated with the Internet saw all sorts of problems in the search engines of that time and came up with a brilliant idea to create a new one based on algorithms. However, they had a problem with finding an investor – almost everyone rejected their idea and did not believe in the future of this business. When the first $ 100,000 was raised to start a business, another mistake was the lack of liquid profits (the company didn’t charge for using the search engine and advertising at that time). A year after the official founding of Google, the company signed its first major contract, and the successes have already gone by an avalanche. Today, everyone uses this most popular search engine, and Google’s algorithm is the company’s best-kept secret – until today, positioners managed to discover only 40% of factors influencing search engine rankings, and Google is constantly changing algorithms.
When Marek Wzorek, after 25 years of a spectacular business career, decided in 2017 that he would leave the lucrative position of the president of the management board of igus Sp. z o.o. and will establish a business coaching company called ecoCoach, many people did not expect this project to be a successful business. At that time, some people associated coaching with public speaking, others with psychology, and others with charlatanism. Some have criticized the company’s name which includes the prefix “eco”. However, these opinions and concerns about quality caused Marek to start looking for the fastest-working and most valuable methods of business development, sales, marketing, education, personal development, processes and technologies. He analyzed the methods of operation and processes of the most effective entrepreneurs, multi-millionaires, marketers, sellers, trainers, coaches, business coaches, executive coaches and business strategists. These searches resulted in the development of tools and processes that he began to use with Polish entrepreneurs, directors and presidents of companies, with companies such as V-TAC, Sygnity S.A., Asapon, and many others. The success of these organizations and the leaders behind them began to attract more customers to it, customers then recommended these services to others, and such innovative business coaching and executive coaching processes under the ecoCoach brand began to reach the thatch of many companies in Poland, and then around the world.
In order to develop the company further to the target vision of a global, turquoise organization and a global franchise network, they began to join him with new business coaches, which he trained himself, in the ecoCoach Community Executive Coaching and Business Coaching Academy created for these purposes, and so the company began to support more and more customers in Poland and in the world. In this way, the ecoCoach® brand and the business coaching and executive coaching processes implemented by business coaches operating under this brand began to be associated with the highest quality on the market and the fastest way to achieve goals, achieve life, business, sales, marketing and strategic successes. Thanks to perseverance and determination, Marek developed the company, creating a well-coordinated team from scratch, a proven business model and a turquoise organization.
All the obstacles that the company had to deal with from the very beginning (the start of the company’s activity is 2018) aroused in Mark, and later also in the entire ecoCoach team, the greater persistence in implementing the global vision of an organization with 50 branches by 2025 , in the largest countries in the world and an efficient franchise network with 5,000 business coaches, executive coaches and strategic advisers operating all over the world. This network of the best educated, with the highest business ethics and operating with the latest tools of entrepreneurs and business coaches, operating in every corner of the world, already helps and will ultimately help to develop millions of businesses, people, non-profit organizations, governments, solve global problems, seeding in everyone a place of seed for more ethical business and happier life, inspiring others to create new turquoise organizations.