The Taste of Bad Luck


Every time I hear a business owner tell me how they have had the worst luck lately or can’t seem to catch a break in this economy, it reminds me of a famous story of an entrepreneur who had what could have been the worst luck.

Harland David Sanders was born in 1890 on a farm in Henryville, Indiana and for most of his life he held many different jobs; from railroad fireman, insurance salesman, steamboat ferry operator, tire salesman, and service station operator. Harland didn’t come up with the concept for his business until he was the age of 66, which is a time when most are contemplating retirement.

Furthermore, and more to my point, he wouldn’t have come up with the idea had not been for a good dose of bad luck.

You see, it was during Harland’s last job at the service station he operated that he would sell his chicken to the local passersby’s in Corbin, Kentucky, and later from the restaurant he opened across the street. It became very popular and things were going well for Harland, until one day in the early 1960’s when a new interstate highway was planned to bypass Corbin. He saw the writing on the wall, decided to auction off his operations, and was forced to start over with a Social Security income of $105 per month.

At age 66, Harland was convinced that he could go out and sell his popular chicken recipe if he could get enough restaurants on board. All he wanted in return was a promise they would give him five cents for each piece they sold. Furthermore, Harland would keep them stocked with the secret eleven herbs and spices (in the beginning, he and his wife, Claudia, packed the chicken in little paper sacks with cellophane linings and shipped them by midnight train to each location).

The business grew beyond his wildest dreams, and three years later in 1963, the man known as “Colonel Sanders” sold his business for $2 million. Today, KFC has over 11,000 restaurants in more than 80 countries, and each bear the face of the man who started it all because he had some bad luck.

My point is somewhat simplistic … yet realistic; as entrepreneurs /business owners, every day will bring something new — both good and bad. However, these are the challenges you face to achieve a lifestyle of your choosing. Again, you’re an entrepreneur…it comes with the title. And yes, we are all aware of someone close to us, whether a client or acquaintance who has been challenged in the last few years like never before. However, the old saying still applies,” Work like nobody will work for the next 20-30 years and you can live like very few can live for the rest of your life.” And that will taste pretty good at any age.

This article was written by Lou Melone, Managing Partner, with Budd, Melone & Company in Auburn Hills, MI. Lou Melone can be reached at 248.499.8704.
Posted date on Article XIII, Issue II
Dated 6.2011
Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network did not assist in the preparation of this article, and its accuracy and completeness are not guaranteed. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network or its affiliates. The material has been prepared or is distributed solely for information purposes and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy any security or instrument or to participate in any trading strategy.
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