5 entrepreneurship lessons to learn from Colonel Sanders, the culprit responsible for your finger-licking maniaKaushik Srinivasan
Ever sunk your teeth into juicy chicken wings? Have you ever felt the need to satiate your taste buds with a taste of a piping hot zinger burger? Well you would have, if you’ve ever been to KFC. A haven for foodies, there’s lot to take away from KFC other than just the mouth-watering taste that lingers at the tip of your tongue and the hearty feeling of a full stomach. Behind the freshness and the crunchiness of the chicken that we bite into are years of sweat and blood, shed by Colonel Sanders.
Sitting under a tree and contemplating suicide, Colonel Sanders was busy writing his will. Reminiscent of the apple falling on Newton’s head, inspiration struck. Only this time, the catalyst wasn’t tangible. Only an abstract idea for making chicken in a novel way flew into his head. Seized by the urge to act, Colonel Sanders borrowed $87 of his social security cheque, bought and fried some chicken using his unique recipe, and started selling it in Kentucky. The rest is history!!
Here are five lessons we can draw from the Colonel’s journey:
Age is just a number when you’re aiming for success
The epitome of success past one’s prime, Colonel Sanders tasted success fairly late in his life. It was only when he was on the verge of saying goodbye to this world that his love for cooking dawned upon him. Finding his true calling, he pursued it with passion and founded an enterprise that shook the food industry. Starting a venture at the age of 65, he proved the saying:
It’s never too late to start all over again.
The same applies to an entrepreneur. Like age, other factors like the lack of skills, health issues and the fear of failure hold us back from going after our passion. It is necessary for an entrepreneur to jettison all the inhibitions that he/she has been plagued by, in order to be successful.
Whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stronger
Growing through a misery-laden childhood, life never really took it easy on Sanders. Switching jobs since the age of seven, when he started work on a farm, Sanders never had much success with his professions. In fact, Sanders was terrible at making decisions and used to make unwise business gambles.
Even the secret recipe that he first developed for cooking chicken wasn’t a straight road to success. Legend has it that his idea for making chicken was turned down 1,009 times before he got a thumbs up from Pete Harman of Utah, his eventual partner at KFC.
It’s no different with an entrepreneur. With failure lurking around every corner, each entrepreneur goes through a lot of rough patches in his/her career. These are times when you will doubt yourself, your decisions, and the path you’re currently heading down, but it is just a matter of patience and self-belief. The best way to sail through such times is to learn from your own mistakes instead of mulling over them.
If everyone goes right, go left!
Being unique and coming up with innovative solutions to solve problems efficiently is what sets most successful entrepreneurs apart. Colonel Sanders originally prepared his chicken in an iron skillet but soon realised that it wasn’t efficient in a restaurant setting. Determined to reduce the waiting time of customers, Sanders adopted the usage of pressure fryer and modified his cooking procedure.
In today’s world, with numerous competitors in each business, mainstream solutions are going obsolete, with problems becoming more complex on a daily basis. The only way to gain an edge over your opponents is to try out something different.
Sanders’ secret sauce
Not only was his cooking technique unique but the recipe he used was in itself quite interesting. KFC boasts of a secret recipe of ‘11 herbs and spices’ that’s responsible for its worldwide fame.
In addition to that, his secret sauce of success included willpower, perseverance and hard work, which paved his path to success.
Entrepreneurs should also be prepared to take risks and come out of their comfort zone. At the age of 65, when people get senile and accustomed to taking rests and being immobile, Colonel Sanders discovered his passion. Eager to make a dent in this world and do something that he loves, Sanders bought all the ingredients and started making and selling fried chicken all over Kentucky.
Success doesn’t come overnight
Things never got any easier even after he found his fervour for cooking. His pole star was set, but it was still a long path to go, filled with thorns to prick and potholes to make him falter. When he went around selling his chicken, people mocked him for his attire of white shirts and white pants, but Sanders seemed to be immune to those discouragements. Finally, at the age of 74, Sanders sold KFC for $2 million to a group of investors. There’s nothing like an overnight success story. Every entrepreneur should be willing to take risks and sport the will to see a project to its completion, in order to reach success.
Even though Sanders’ story is a quintessential rags-to-riches story, the lessons learnt are quite different. Battling age, he tapped into an unprecedented repository of energy which fuelled him to go and start his own company. Courtesy the viral taste of his fried chicken, the chain grew rapidly and turned into a franchise soon. At the age of 74, Sanders contended that he had achieved some success in his life, sold KFC, and passed away at the age of 90. While you might not leave a trace of Sanders' fried chicken on your plate, he has for sure left a trace of his legacy in everyone's heart.