We analyze 18 anecdotes of failures from which you can draw inspiration during the difficult moments of your entrepreneurial journey. Some people like to say that entrepreneurs are born, not created and that the talent to start a billion-dollar business is innate. But some of the world’s most famous and leading to successful entrepreneurs struggle to find their way.

For example, JK Rowling struggled to find someone to publish the Harry Potter series, and while she was working on the books, she lived as a single mother on welfare. Tim Ferriss received 25 rejection letters for his book, which today is one of the world’s best-selling business books. Even geniuses like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have faced business failures.

Here we analyze 18 anecdotes that you can use as a source of inspiration during the difficult moments of your entrepreneurial journey. If you’ve been rejected, failed, or just lost some motivation, this list can remind you why you need to keep moving forward.

  1. Bill Gates


He once started a company called Traf-O-data that provided traffic statistics. The company failed miserably, but today Gates has an estimated net worth of more than $91 billion.

  1. Jeff Bezos


Before Bezos had success with Amazon’s legacy, he tried several ideas. Among them was the online shopping platform zShops that almost failed at birth. However, this company’s marketing principles remain with Amazon.

  1. Steve Jobs

Apple is one of the greatest companies in human history, but it hasn’t always been that way. When the company started, failed products like Apple I and Apple Lisa bled so much into the company that shareholders went after Jobs in the mid-1980s.

  1. Evan Williams

Today, Williams is known for helping to found one of the world’s largest social networks, Twitter. However, at one point he tried to launch a podcast platform known as Odeo. The service failed because it was released together with the podcast section of iTunes.

  1. Fred Smith

Everyone is familiar with FedEx these days, but at the time Smith presented the first draft of his business idea as a final project at university. His teacher abandoned him.

  1. Arianna Huffington

This businesswoman is the founder of the highly successful Huffington Post. However, before she was known as the media mogul, 36 editors rejected her work.

  1. Sir James Dyson

Dyson vacuum cleaners are very popular around the world, but before they were successful, Dyson developed over 500 prototypes and relied on his life’s work to support his family.

  1. JK Rowling

She is the author of the world’s most popular book series, but when she created Harry Potter and His Company, she lived off charity and had to ration cans of soup to support her daughter.

  1. Christina Wallace

This entrepreneur founded Quincy Apparel, a company that went bankrupt in 2013. Wallace was so depressed that she didn’t get out of bed for three weeks. Today she is vice president of the Startup Institute.

  1. Warren Buffett

The buffet is one of the richest men in the world, but he was rejected from Harvard at the time. In addition, his Berkshire Hattaway business was doomed in the early years because of what appeared to be bad investments. Today the company is worth $65 billion.

  1. Thomas Edison

This man is known as one of the great inventors in history, but the truth is that he made as many as 10,000 failed prototypes before inventing the light bulb.

  1. Colonel Sanders

The founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken doesn’t need to be introduced, but his “secret recipe” for fried chicken was turned down for 1,000 before he decided to open his own business.

  1. Laurent Ellison

Ellison now owns the now successful Oracle, but when the company started it was so bankrupt that the entrepreneur had to pawn his house to keep it afloat.

  1. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is known around the world as an excellent TV host, but early in her career she was fired for being a “bad news reporter.” Today he has an estimated fortune of $2 billion.

  1. Steven Spielberg

The father of world cinema classics like Jurassic Park and Jaws has faced rejection from three of his films.


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