Popular People Who Were Failures Before Achieving Success

J.K. Rowling

Sometimes, failure is just another step towards success. After all, how can you taste the sweetness of victory if you have not had the bitter taste of defeat? In fact, some of the most successful people in the world have been considered failures once in their lives before achieving their dreams.

Don’t believe me?  To prove the point, here are some of the most successful people in the world and what they were before success:

J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter author’s story can be made into a movie on its own. A divorced mother who is living on welfare, struggling to make ends meet while going to school. And in her spare time, she managed to write modern literature’s most popular and most beloved characters. Of course now she is living in a mansion, but I bet she has not forgotten what it was like to be down in her luck.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, was a failure once in his life. And that is with his long time friend Paul Allen who was with him when he started the Microsoft Empire. But before Microsoft, there was this company called Traf-O-Data. Never heard of it? Well, that is not a surprise because it no longer exists. The company wanted to build a machine to that process paper tapes from traffic counters and sell it to the government. Unfortunately, the machine was unexpectedly buggy and the rest was history, or, well, Traf-O-Data was history.

Harland David Sanders AKA Colonel Sanders

When you think of fried chicken, the first thing you think of is KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken. You would think that businesses would be lining up to acquire the Colonel’s secret recipe. It turns out, however, that is not the case. Sanders received thousands of rejections from restaurants who are not willing to work with him. I bet those restaurants regret their decision now.

Vlad Shmunis

Nowadays, it looks like RingCentral phone systems is the future of business telephony, but that has not always been the case. Shmunis first founded Ring Zero Systems and his product was a phone system that runs in a Windows platform. Sadly, without cloud computing it did not appeal to business owners and he had to sell the company before reacquiring it and renaming it as RingCentral.

Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire

Would you believe that on Fred Astaire’s first on-screen test, an RKO executive reviewed him as someone who can’t sing and can’t act? In addition, the executive also called Astaire balding while noting that he can dance a little. This rejection did not faze Astaire and he went on to be one of the most beloved Hollywood icons. Not bad for a guy who can’t sing, can’t act, apparently balding, and can only dance a little.

You see, that is why you should not be discouraged by failures. Look at it as an opportunity to improve and use it as a motivation to work harder. In the end, you will see that success is much sweeter after tasting bitter defeat.


Nancy Perkins is a writer who is very much interested in business and technology. She loves to share and learn more about the ins and outs of money making. You can connect with her on http://www.facebook.com/nancy.perkins.5439


Both Larry Rivera and Jamie Pelaez work from home full-time as online entrepreneurs. While we still do some affiliate marketing in the form of product and service related recommendations, our primary focus is our membership site sharing our love of Kung Fu around the world. You can trust we will only recommend resources we personally use to enhance our life and online business. While we make money online, however we cannot guarantee you will. Only because we do not know how dedicated you will choose to be. ;)


  1. says

    Going back to when Bill Gates was 12 to find a failure is really searching. But I like the list. I thought Abraham Lincoln was going to be here when I read the title, he’s always on these kinds of lists.

  2. says

    Everyone goes through a period of failure or rejection. The people on this list chose to fight through their failures and keep going on towards their goals. Too many people meet failure and accept it instead of rising above it. If you’re not expecting setbacks and failures on the way to success, you’ve got a rude awakening heading towards you in the future.

  3. says

    i like your post.failure is the first step of success.because without failure we can’t get the taste of our victory.and these are the which defined above are the example of this.your blog inspire to us.
    thanks for the joining this blog .

  4. says

    It is nice to hear that all these famously successful people all had a pretty difficult start at things. It is very difficult getting on your feet when things aren’t given to you. Well done to Colenol Sanders for perseviering, if it wasnt for him, We wouldn’t have the high street wonder that is KFC!

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