When Bill Gates was just 17 he established his first business with his partners Paul Allen and Paul Gilbert. The company was called Traf-O-Data and the trio would create traffic counters using the Intel 8008 Processor. The technology was picked up by local officials and soon the company began trading throughout Washington State and in British Columbia. Traf-O-Data stayed in operation for a few years, but before it found any success, state officials began rolling out a similar service for free. Soon, Traf-O-Data had lost all its clients and the business dried up.
Gates’ first enterprise was a failure. The company had done zero market research and lacked any real business model. However, this setback was fundamental to the success of Microsoft. Reflecting on the company’s failure Paul Allen said “If it hadn’t been for our Traf-O-Data venture you could argue that Microsoft might not have happened.” Bill Gates believed that every failure laid the groundwork for success. Three years after Traf-O-Data’s rocky start, Gates co-founded Microsoft, which would later make him the wealthiest person in the world.
While setbacks are inevitable in both life and business, they can be formative for rebel entrepreneurs. When things just don’t appear to be going well, hang in there. When life holds you back, don’t see yourself as a body that is being pushed down by some indomitable force. Instead, imagine yourself inside a slingshot with life pulling on the elastic. Be sure to aim yourself in the right direction because you won’t be kept down for long – realise you’re just about to take off. The truth is, you can only be held back for so long, so get ready because you’re about to be catapulted. Setbacks are simply a sign that great things are about to happen, so get ready and position yourself to shoot in the right direction.