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Some of the most successful people experienced epic failures before finding their successes. — Getty Images/Twomeows_IS

Some of the world’s most successful people had to take big risks to get to where they are today. But this led to many big failures along the way. Learn what seven successful entrepreneurs had to say about some of their biggest failures.

Thomas Edison

The inventor Thomas Edison was relentless in his pursuit to construct the electric light bulb. He famously stated: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

Edison credited hard work and persistence as the keys to success in life, adding, “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Henry Ford

Henry Ford forever changed the U.S. automotive industry by manufacturing affordable, reliable vehicles. But his success did not come easy, and he encountered numerous failures during his early production days.

Ford persisted in spite of these setbacks, and has been quoted as saying, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Fred Smith

Fred Smith is best known as the founder and CEO of the global transportation company FedEx. But Smith encountered numerous challenges throughout his life, starting at birth when he was crippled by bone disease.

Smith recovered and later enrolled in Yale University where he came up with the idea for FedEx. He shared his idea with a college professor, who said the idea was “interesting, but not feasible.”

Smith persisted nonetheless and successfully brought his vision for FedEx to life. He stated, “Fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something.”

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey has encountered many challenges throughout her life. Overcoming economic hardship and sexual abuse as a child, she was able to create a global media empire.

However, she encountered pushback in 2011 after launching her own television network, the Oprah Winfrey Network. Though she was criticized due to the network’s low ratings, Winfrey persisted and was able to overhaul the entire company.

When speaking about that period in her life, Winfrey stated, “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

[Read More: 10 Inspirational Oprah Winfrey Quotes for Business Owners]

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

Henry Ford

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was famously fired from Apple, the company he had helped build, in 1985. He saw this as a huge personal failing on his part, but he never let this failure define his life or hold him back.

Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 and was able to revolutionize the company with the iPod and later, with the iPhone. Jobs stated, "Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations."

[Read More: Inspiring Steve Jobs Quotes for Businesses]

Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington is a successful author and businesswoman who has inspired millions of people to find success in their own lives. She is quoted saying, “Failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success.”

She recognizes that success and failure are intertwined and that you can’t have one without the other. Successful leaders learn from their failures and use it to propel them forward.

Vera Wang

Vera Wang is known for designing wedding dresses, but in her early life, she was a competitive figure skater. In 1968, she failed to make the U.S. Olympic figure skating team.

Early in her career, she spent 15 years as a fashion editor at Vogue. She left after being turned down for the editor-in-chief role. Later, Wang found success in designing couture wedding gowns.

Vera Wang understood that these failures were just part of the journey, stating, “Success isn’t about the end result; it’s about what you learn along the way.”

[Read More: Growth Lessons From Successful Startups]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published March 19, 2020