Are you tired of dealing with rejections, setbacks and disappointments? If you are tempted to give up on something meaningful to you, and are exhausted of battling roadblocks on your way, I hope this true story would inspire you to keep going.
Harland was born on a farm in 1890 in Henryville, Indiana. He grew up poor and needed to become self-sufficient at an early age. His father passed away when he was six years old. His mother’s work kept her away from home for extended periods and young Harland needed to learn to cook and care for his siblings. In seventh grade, he dropped out of school and left home in order to work as a farmhand.
When he was 16, he faked his age to enlist in the United States Army and was stationed in Cuba. After being honorably discharged a year later, Harland got hired by the railway as a laborer. But he got fired for fighting with a coworker. While he worked for the railway, he studied law — until he jeopardized his legal career by getting into a fistfight with one of his clients. Harland had no choice but to move back in with his mom and get a job selling life insurance. And you guessed it right! He got fired there as well for insubordination. Still, he didn’t give up.
In 1920, he started a ferry boat company. Later, he tried using the profits from his ferry boat business to form a lamp manufacturing company only to find out that another company already sold a better version of his lamp. He had to let go of that as well.
It wasn’t until age 40 that he became a franchisee of Shell Oil Company and, to improve his sales, began to sell chicken dishes, ham, steak, string beans and other items to his customers. Eventually, he opened up his first restaurant across the street from the service station. As he began to aggressively advertise his restaurant, an argument with a local competitor resulted in a deadly shootout but he survived it unharmed.
During the 1940s, Harland successfully operated a motel with an attached 140-seat restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina, but during World War II with gas rationing, the motel and restaurant started failing. He rebuilt and ran a new motel in Corbin, Kentucky that became popular with travelers on their way to Florida. But a major obstacle came his way when Interstate 75 was built in the 1950s, bypassing the town, due to which Harland was forced to retire and sell the restaurant.
In 1952, living on his $105 a month social security check, Harland embarked on his last career. He began traveling across the country, cooking along the way, determined to franchise his fried chicken.
After years of struggle comprising failures and misfortunes, Harland finally tasted success again. His “secret recipe”, which was previously coined “Kentucky Fried Chicken” became a hit. By 1964, he had franchised over 600 outlets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, England, and Jamaica, and established a company that was worth millions of dollars.
Yes, I’m talking about Colonel Harland David Sanders, or famously called Colonel Sanders.
At the age of 73, Colonel Sanders sold most of Kentucky Fried Chicken for two million dollars.
Even today, Colonel Sanders remains at the forefront in KFC’s branding. His face still appears in the KFC logo; his persona — his goatee, white suit and western string tie — continues to represent delicious country fried chicken all around the world.
Kentucky Fried Chicken currently ranks #41 on Entrepreneur’s “Franchise 500” list and continues to be a well-known franchise brand across the globe with over 500 new locations added within the past year.
Colonel Harland Sanders is and will always be an inspiration for entrepreneurs, both young and old. He got fired from multiple jobs, ruined his legal career, endured the Great Depression and World War II, and went through phases of terrible misfortune, yet he created one of the largest and most profitable fast food restaurant chains in the world.
Colonel Sanders once said, “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”
He excelled at overcoming setbacks and challenges and this is how we should be as we work towards our own success. We need to keep going and not let anyone or anything keep us down for long. We need to harbor a burning desire in our hearts day in and day out if we want to accomplish phenomenal success, there’s no other way.
If you ever feel discouraged by setbacks and overwhelmed by rejections, remember Colonel Sanders’ story and his wise words, “One has to remember that every failure can be a stepping stone to something better.”