Sales tips

5 successful entrepreneurs who took the long-term view

We often tell our agents that marketing is a long-term game. Sometimes it may feel like you’re not getting anywhere fast, but with perseverance, hard work and consistency you’ll start to find out what works for your business. Slowly but surely you’ll see positive movements in the right direction… just so long as you stick at it.

Here are the inspirational stories of five famous entrepreneurs who took the long-term view for success. It may surprise you to know that the million-dollar paychecks didn’t come quickly to them either.

1. Henry Ford

Henry Ford set out with a vision to make owning a car both practical and affordable but things didn’t always go to plan for him. In fact, it took many attempts before he reached his goal and created the Ford Motor Company we know today.

Ford’s first venture, the Detroit Automobile Company, produced products that were of a ’high price and low quality’ leading to its dissolution in 1901. Forced to start again, Ford established the Henry Ford Co. only to leave a year later following a dispute.

Ford tried one final time but investors in this new company became anxious when sales didn’t materialise. It was only thanks to angel investors who swooped in to save the business from collapsing that Ford’s dreams became reality, allowing him to develop the moving assembly line that revolutionised the industry.

When he died in 1947 Ford’s perseverance had earned him a net worth of around $500-700 million.

2. Walt Disney

Walt Disney, famous world-over for his animations, didn’t always sit happily sketching at his desk. He suffered many setbacks before reaching the heights of the American film industry.

In fact, following years of hard work Disney’s first foray into animation, Laugh-O-gram Films, went bankrupt in 1923 when he was just 22. He was forced to leave for Hollywood with just $40 in his pocket. Once there he founded Disney Bros. Studios with his brother Roy. But even when the characters you might recognise today started appearing, Disney received a number of rejections – in 1927 MGM told him Mickey Mouse wouldn’t work as a giant mouse was “too scary for women”, while a wartime release of Bambi was deemed inappropriate.

After overcoming his doubters, Disney’s characters rose in popularity leading him to begin creating a children’s theme park in the 1940s. Walt Disney World opened in 1955 after overcoming five years of planning and fundraising difficulties.

3. Arianna Huffington

Co-founder of online ‘newspaper’ the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington has experienced fame and fortune in the last decade. But things didn’t come as easily to her as it might have seemed.

As a writer Huffington suffered numerous knockbacks – in fact her second book was rejected 36 times before it was finally published. She was also accused of plagiarism in her book The Gods of Greece, although the case didn’t go to court. Huffington didn’t give up though; she took out a loan, kept trying and went on to publish 12 books.

Next Huffington turned her hand to politics, unsuccessfully running in the election for Governor of California. While disappointed she didn’t win, Huffington took what she had learned during the campaign about the power of the internet and turned it to her advantage by co-founding the Huffington Post, the US news aggregation and blogging site.

Never far from controversy, Huffington continued to fight for the Huff Post until she stepped down in 2016 with a net worth of $50 million US dollars.

4. Michelle Mone

The rise of the Ultimo bra brand in the 90s may have seemed like an overnight success story, but the reality was far from it. Founder Michelle Mone was beset by redundancy, financial woes and rejections from big brand shops. But she didn’t give in.

In her mid-20s Mone took inspiration from “an uncomfortable night out” to invest all her redundancy money in developing a new type of bra. Three years later, however, the prototype had only just been completed and she was over £400,000 in the red. To make matters worse she had found no shops willing to stock the new bra and she was pregnant.

Mone fought against rejections and negativity to eventually convince Selfridges, a large store in London, to sign up. Then she invested her final £500 in a guerrilla marketing campaign to garner interest. The tactic worked.

Fast forward 20-something years and she is now worth $60 US million dollars.

5. Simon Cowell

“Losing everything is probably the greatest lesson you learn,” is how Simon Cowell reflects on the hard times he suffered on his rise to the top of the music industry.

By his late 20s, Cowell had built a record company only to see it come crashing down. He made a million pounds and then lost it all, eventually moving back in with his parents. This was the turning point that created the man he is today.

Cowell was forced to started from scratch. He did everything differently, took heed from the lessons he had learned and today, just over 20 years later, has amassed a net worth of $550 million US dollars.

Next time you think your marketing strategy isn’t working and you want to give in, think about these entrepreneurs, take a deep breath and try again.

If you want it enough you’ll get there in the end.

And we’re here to support you every step of the way.

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