How to find success in failure

Failure is part of life and it’s also part of business. Some of the most successful people in the world have failed – often more than once – but what separates them from everybody else, is that they never give up. We look at two famous entrepreneurs and their successes, failures and the lessons to be learned.


Jobs co-founded Apple Computer Inc. in 1976, and through his leadership and brilliant inventions, the company revolutionised the technology industry. He attained huge success in his 20s, when the Apple empire expanded, but the man he handpicked as CEO, John Sculley, would organise to have him fired from his own company.

Jobs then started a new business called NeXT, but the products were too expensive for the consumer market and the company never made a profit until it was sold to Apple in 1996 for $429 million. At this time Apple was losing sales dramatically, and they chose to rehire Jobs. When he returned, he was responsible for one of the greatest comebacks of the 20th century. He reinvented the company’s image and ultimately made Apple one of the most recognisable brands in the world.

Apple is synonymous with innovation and many of its products are indispensable to millions of people around the globe. Some of its most recognisable products include the iPhone, iPad, iPod and MacBook, but the man responsible for these successes is also responsible for some of Apple’s greatest disasters, such as the Apple Lisa, the Power Mac G4 Cube and the Apple III.

Jobs had many failures in his life, but rather than being discouraged, he was even more determined to succeed. When he died in 2011, he had 241 patents registered to his name or as a co-inventor. Had Jobs not persevered, the world would be a very different place today.

Steve Jobs on failure: “I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year… it’s very character-building.”

Steve Jobs on success: “I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”


From humble beginnings in the early 1920s, The Walt Disney Company has grown into an international and easily recognisable, family entertainment and media giant. Disney co-founder, Walter “Walt” Disney, is today regarded as a cultural icon, but it wasn’t always plain sailing for this creative genius.

It’s hard to believe, but Disney was once fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no original ideas”. One of his first ventures was to create Laugh-O-Gram, an animation studio, but the company quickly became bankrupt. His early movies – Pinocchio and Bambi – were unsuccessful, and The Three Little Pigs was rejected by distributors who believed it had too few characters. The movie went on to become one of the most successful cartoons of all time.

When Disney lost the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, his first commercially successful character, he went back to the drawing board and developed a new character called Mickey Mouse. He presented Mickey to MGM Studios but was turned down as it was thought that the mouse would scare women.

With countless failures under his belt, Disney never gave up. He proved that with perseverance and courage you can achieve great success. Walt Disney was awarded 22 Oscars, and he still holds the record for the most wins and nominations for an individual in the history of the Academy Awards.

Walt Disney on failure: “You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Walt Disney on success: “The difference in winning and losing is most often… not quitting.”

Some entrepreneurs will fail, others will find success and there are those who will excel. To achieve great things you need to accept your mistakes, learn from them, find ways to improve, and continue pursuing your goal no matter what happens. Use your failures as stepping stones and success is inevitable.

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