Entrepreneurs Who Overcame Obstacles


9 Famous Entrepreneurs Who Struggled Yet Made It Big
Mike Bowman  

Starting a business is easy, but succeeding at that business is very hard. Entrepreneurs have to get very creative sometimes in order to get things going. If you are struggling with getting your business off the ground and need some inspiration or motivation, check out the challenges these 9 famous entrepreneurs faced and learn how they overcame each one.

1. Henry Ford - Automobiles
Challenge: lack of materials. Young Henry Ford couldn't afford new materials and tools to work with in the shed behind his home in Detroit while building his first car (the Quadricycle), so he visited local farms and businesses and offered to haul away their scrap metal for free. People were delighted to have someone take away their junk, and Ford used the scrap metal to fashion automobile parts. On June 4, 1896 32 year old Ford drove his first "car" (which had no brakes), made of scrap metal, out of his garage.

2. O.D. McKee - Little Debbie Snacks
Challenge: had no store front. O.D. McKee, founder of Little Debbie snacks, wanted to start his own bakery while he was a traveling salesman selling cookies out of his truck. Convinced he would do better on his own, he sold that truck for $200 and used the money as a down payment on a bakery that was for sale. O.D. worked very hard and was quickly able to buy back his truck.

3. J.C. Penney - General Store
Challenge:  very tight margins. James Cash Penney knew that successfully operating a general merchandise store would mean offering the best prices. That meant he needed to get creative with his cost cutting measures, so he did things such as using the blank side of envelopes as scrap paper and using old packing crates as shelves and counters in his stores.

4. David Klein - Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
Challenge: no customers. Klein opened his candy store essentially unnoticed. In order to create a media buzz, he paid children to come to his candy store and eat jelly beans in order to make his store look popular. Klein called a local reporter to let him know how great the new business was doing. When the reporter showed up, he noted how many children were in the store enjoying the candy.

5. William Wrigley - Chewing Gum
Challenge: Not unique. Wrigley started a baking soda company, but he realized his product was no different than his competitors'. He decided giving his customers a bonus would help drive sales, so he gave away 2 sticks of gum with each purchase. Customers loved the gum so much they offered to buy more of it from him. His gum business was born!

6. Milton Hershey - Chocolate
Challenge: no customers. Milton Hershey opened his first candy shop in 1876 in Philadelphia, but business was slow. How did he entice people to come in and try his candy? He installed a pipe in the building's coal chute so the sweet smell of treats being made would carry into the streets and lure new customers in!

7. Walt Disney - Cartoonist
Challenge: few opportunities. At age 22, Walt Disney was fired from a Missouri newspaper for "not being creative enough." That didn't stop him from going on to create characters such as Mickey Mouse and Snow White. Disney said, "All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."

8. Richard Sears - Household Merchandise
Challenge:  nothing of value to sell. When Richard Sears worked as a railroad station agent, a box of watches was delivered. The seller had sent them to the wrong jeweler, who refused them. When Sears contacted the sender and stated how much it would cost to ship the watches back the sender balked. Sears offered to buy them for a substantial discount, so the sender agreed, considering the reshipment costs. Sears then sold them all of the watches for a profit to time conscious train conductors. How was Sears able to sell all the watches quickly? Sears told the conductors if they weren't absolutely satisfied with their purchases from him he would replace their watch with no questions asked. His merchandise store was born.

9. Paula Deen - Homestyle Cooking
Challenge:  no money. Since Deen couldn't afford her own restaurant, she would make sandwiches in the morning and sell them in the lobby of an office building during lunch time. She used each day's sales money to buy supplies for the next day. Soon the office workers were buying up every sandwich Deen brought in each day, which allowed her to start growing her business.

About the author Mike Bowman
Mike writes for TheQuarterRoll.com, a website that makes small business ownership and personal finance fun and entertaining through the stories of real people. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter @TheQuarterRoll

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