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From rags to riches - entrepreneurs who failed spectacularly before they made it

Success doesn't come easy. In most cases, those at the very top have worked extremely hard to get where they are, with many failing - and learning from their mistakes - before they get there.

Here are some examples of why persevering, even in adversity, can pay dividends in the end:

Donald Trump

One of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, Donald established the 'Trump Organisation' in 1980 to oversee his real estates. In 1990, due to the recession and excessive leveraging, Trump found himself with an eye-watering corporate debt of $9bn. Seventy banks bailed him out to ensure the company survived.

Not content with, or put off by, getting in the financial mire once, Donald did it again, obtaining a personal debt of $1bn. Both times, however, Donald used his money-making skills to quickly get back tothe top of the 'rich list.'

Richard Branson

Our best-loved entrepreneur's first venture actually saw him getting arrested. Branson's student magazine broke laws prohibiting the publication of advice on remedies for venereal disease! His first Virgin Records shop experienced continuous cash-flow problems, even when sales were high. To pay off an overdraft, Branson pretended to buy records for export to escape the excise tax on sales.

Virgin Atlantic was by no means a roaring success from the start, either. During the Government certification flight, birds flew into an uninsured engine, resulting in an explosion. Branson had to pull out cash from his overseas financial subsidiaries to reconstruct the company. A court battle in the 1990s with British Airways meant Branson had to sell Virgin Atlantic Music to EMI.

Bill Gates

While usually not a great strategy (and certainly not advice to pass onto the kids) Bill Gates proves that succeeding in education isn't necessarily the be-all and end-all. After dropping out of Harvard, Gates started a failed business with fellow Microsoft founder, Paul Allen, called Traf-O-Data. Undeterred, Bill then went on to create the global empire that is Microsoft.

Walt Disney

The mind that dreamed up some of the world's best-loved characters was actually fired by a newspaper editor for lacking imagination. Disney set out on his own and started a number of businesses that were short-lived, ending with bankruptcy and failure. He persevered however, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Charles Darwin

While not strictly an entrepreneur, Darwin undoubtedly made some of the most important scientific discoveries man-kind has even known. You'd expect such brilliance to be obvious from a young age. Not so, as in his early years, Darwin gave up on his medical career and was often chastised by his father for being lazy and too dreamy. Darwin himself wrote, "I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect." Well, if Darwin was below the common standard, what hope is there for the rest of us!

Above all, what these examples illustrate is the 'if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again!' mentality. Even the best don't always get it right first time, so when your career stumbles or things don't seem to be going well,take consolation that you still have time to become the next Darwin or Disney.


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