By Evan Carmichael on February 22nd, 2011
In support of http://www.myboldmove.ca, a new website created by TELUS and BlackBerry I’ve created a list of my favourite 7 Boldest Entrepreneur Moves of All Time. These are from entrepreneurs who risked everything to take their shot at success and, against all odds, they made it. You can also win $25,000 by reading this post… details below!
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Bold Move #7 Milton Hershey Doesn’t Give Up
Milton Hershey was the founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company. He was not only one of the 20th Century’s most successful entrepreneurs but also one of the country’s most generous philanthropists. Today, The Hershey Company continues to reign as the world’s largest chocolate company with more than 13,000 employees and over $5 billion in sales.
At the age of 19, against his parents’ wishes, Hershey decided to move to Philadelphia in order to start up his own caramel company. The business was never able to generate a profit and was forced to close six years later. Hershey refused to give up. He traveled throughout Denver, New York, Chicago and New Orleans trying to find fortune but each time he was unsuccessful. He returned home at age 28 with no money and was seen as a disgrace by his family.
But he still refused to give up. He started a new business with a former employee of his and moved from making caramels to chocolate. After 10 years of failure, Hershey finally hit on a winning business. His company expanded year after year and if he had listened to his friends and family through those 10 years of failure we would never have known the Hershey Chocolate bar.
Bold Move #6: Ted Turner Decides To Be Successful
Ted Turner is the founder of CNN and Turner Broadcasting System. He owns the Atlanta Braves, gave $1 billion to the United Nations, and currently has a net worth of $1.9 billion.
Turner had a lot of bad luck growing up. He was a ‘C’ student at school, got expelled from University, had his parents divorce, got divorced by his wife, and had his sister develop terminal lupus. He went to work for his father’s outdoor advertising company when his father then killed himself because he couldn’t pay off the company’s debts. Ted Turner, at the age of 24 took over the company, restored it to profitability and began building his empire. He had all the odds stacked against him but he was determined to be a success.
According to Turner: “All my life people have said that I wasn’t going to make it… I’ve never run into a guy who could win at the top level in anything today and didn’t have the right attitude, didn’t give it everything he had, at least while he was doing it; wasn’t prepared and didn’t have the whole program worked out.”
Bold Move #5: George Lucas Challenges Traditional Business Models
George Lucas is one of the film industry’s most financially successful independent directors and producers with an estimated net worth of $3 billion. He is best known for his Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies.
When Lucas’ first movies didn’t give a financial return on investment he found it difficult to find support for his latest idea, a movie called Star Wars. To get the movie into production he waived his up-front fee as a director and agreed to own the licensing rights so he could profit from any toys, t-shirts, and other products that came from the movie. At the time movie studios didn’t see licensing rights as valuable so they agreed. The money he made from the licensing rights allowed him to finance the sequels himself and built his fortune.
According to Lucas: “My first six years in the business were hopeless. There are a lot of times when you sit and you say ‘Why am I doing this? I’ll never make it. It’s just not going to happen. I should go out and get a real job and try to survive’. I thought Star Wars was too wacky for the general public. Right or wrong this is my movie, this is my decision, and this is my creative vision, and if people don’t like it, they don’t have to see it.”
Bold Move #4: Anita Roddick Is Forced To Survive
Anita Roddick was the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company known for its environmental and ethical best practices. In 2006 she sold the company to L’Oréal.for £652.3 million.
When she got married Roddick and her husband, Gordon, set up a small eight room hotel to support their family. Then her husband decided he wanted to fulfill his lifelong dream of riding a horse from Buenos Aires, Argentina to New York City. In order to support her family while her husband was gone she started The Body Shop. The bank rejected her $8,000 loan request so she got the money from a local gas station owner to get the business up and running while looking after her two children on her own.
According to Roddick: “For myself, I needed to earn money, to look after the kids while my husband was traveling for two years across South America… I started The Body Shop in 1976 simply to create a livelihood for myself and my two daughters, while my husband, Gordon, was trekking across the Americas. I had no training or experience and my only business acumen was Gordon’s advice to take sales of £300 a week. Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking.”
Bold Move #3: A.P. Giannini Bets On The Little Guy
Amadeo Peter Giannini revolutionized the banking world by providing services to “the little guy.” Giannini passed away in 1949 at the age of 79. By that time, the bank he had founded, the Bank of America, had become the largest bank in the world, with more than 525 branches in over 300 cities.
Before A.P. Giannini you could only get a loan if you already had some money. Hardworking immigrants like his parents didn’t qualify and Giannini wanted to change the system. He set up his bank across the street from a popular bank and began making loans to people other banks wouldn’t give a chance.
When a massive earthquake hit San Francisco in 1906, all the banks in the city closed down to assess their damage. People couldn’t get access to their funds at the time they needed it the most. The earthquake demolished Giannini’s bank but he opened up shop by setting up a desk using two barrels and a plank of wood across them. He would lend money to people based on a handshake to help them rebuild their lives. He also went on to fund entrepreneurs like Walt Disney who nobody believed in and projects like the Golden Gate Bridge that were considered too crazy to invest in.
Bold Move #2: Guy Laliberté Risks It All In Los Angeles
Fellow Canadian Guy Laliberté is the founder of Cirque du Soleil, a circus entertainment company whose shows have been seen by almost 100 million people worldwide. In 2006, Laliberté was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and his current net worth is over $2.5 billion.
After a couple of years of marginal success, Laliberté decided to risk everything to perform at the Los Angeles Arts Festival. Booked as the opening act, the performance was going to be watched by many big names, including high-profile Hollywood celebrities.
According to Laliberté: “It was live or die in L.A. And we bet everything on one night. By the end of the show we had standing ovations. The day after, tickets were selling like crazy. I bet everything on that one night. If we failed, there was no cash for gas to come home.”
Bold Move #1: Walt Disney Does The Impossible
Walt Disney was a film producer, animator, and entertainer. He created films with iconic characters like Mickey Mouse, won 22 Academy Awards, and established the Disney theme parks. Today the Walt Disney Company has revenues of over $35 billion per year.
At a young age, Walt Disney had some modest success with animated short films when he decided to do the boldest move ever in his industry: Make a full-length animated feature film. It had never been done before, let alone in colour and with music. His competitors, associates, and even his wife thought he would never make it. Originally budgeted at $500,000, the project had gone over budget by half a million dollars in its early stages. Disney was forced to act out the film’s story in front of bankers in order to secure the additional loans he needed to finish it. In the end, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs went on to earn four times the box office of any other film when it was released.
According to Disney: “Somehow I can’t believe there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is Confidence.”
Contest – Win $25,000
To honour Canadian entrepreneurs who make bold moves, TELUS and BlackBerry are giving away $25,000 via their new website http://www.myboldmove.ca. Enter today to win – the contest is only open to Canadians. You have until March 25th and can also win daily BlackBerry Smartphones.
What’s your boldest move? Which famous entrepreneur bold move would you add to your list? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts if you leave a comment below!
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/risquillo/
Tags: 100 million, academy awards, animated feature film, animated short films, animator, bold move, circus entertainment, cirque du soleil, constancy, curre, disney theme parks, entertainment company, film producer, half a million, mickey mouse, snow white and the seven dwarfs, telus, Walt Disney, walt disney company, young entrepreneur