No one is immune to mistakes, and even a powerhouse like Bill Gates has made mistakes that have resulted in failures. Despite being worth $123 billion, he can attest to several failures. Nevertheless, he’s found ways to transform his failures into successes. After all, he’s the genius behind Microsoft.
Thanks to his inventions, he has transformed the technology sector. With his foundation, he’s transformed the whole world. However, that doesn’t mean that things have always been easy for him. Like anyone else, he faced many ordeals when he launched his first startup. While today he’s made a name for himself as an outstanding CEO, he has made some notable mistakes. However, these mistakes slow his drive to succeed.
If you’re launching your business and still struggling to establish it, you should take heart. At the end of the day, you’re never alone. It’s a struggle that everyone faces, including the richest and most successful people. If you don’t believe this, have a look at the 5 failures of Bill Gates:
1. He was almost the founder of the leading search engine in the world
While we know Google is the leading search engine across the world, this was not always the case. During the launch of Google, Microsoft was already a mega tech company. Moreover, it was known globally. However, Google still managed to beat Mircosoft and become the major search engine in the world.
In 1998, Google was launched as a startup. It quickly managed to outdo Bing by providing a clean search engine. Beyond that, Google managed to capture more users than Bing from Microsoft.
Ever since, Bing has been a lesser search engine with approximately a 3% market share. Google, on the other hand, has over 90% market share according to Statcounter. During the 2004 World Economic Forum, Gates agreed to have been beaten by Google in this area.
2. Rescuing Apple on the verge of bankruptcy
If it was not for Gates’ investment through Microsoft, Apple wouldn’t be what it is today. In 1997, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy, but Microsoft came in and invested around $150 million to save it from this ordeal. Thanks to that money, Apple created the iMac and iPad simultaneously. Over two decades later, Apple grew to become a major successful company in the US. Furthermore, it was the first to hit the $2 trillion mark after evaluation.
For many experts, this was the worst move by Microsoft. According to Bloomberg, this was a bad business deal. However, Steve Jobs had a different perspective in 1997. In reference to the same situation, he said that we’ve got to let go of the notion that for a company to succeed, its counterparts must lose.
However, this was when Microsoft was a leading company in this sector. Two decades later, the tables have turned. Now Apple has a higher market cap than Microsoft. Even so, Microsoft’s market cap is about $1.8 trillion, so it’s doing just fine.
3. Antitrust suits against Gates and his company
While he had an opportunity, Gates failed in establishing a relationship with the government. That’s where his lawsuit ordeal began. According to Silverberg, Gates should’ve tried to build a closer relationship with the authorities. While his rivals were lobbying the government, he was embracing a “leave us alone” attitude. According to him, the company was in great shape, competing fairly, and offering value to the consumers.
Unfortunately, not engaging the authorities, especially the concerned politicians, meant there were dark days ahead for Microsoft. The same authorities – US government and the European Union – retaliated out of frustration. As such, Mircosoft paid dearly for their flippant attitude.
The price was in various forms. However, what was most damaging were the lawsuits. Google was accused of leveraging anti-competitive approaches and being a monopoly. The only thing that came out of these suits was Bill Gates’ hysterical deposition. The judge actually even laughed at it.
4. Underestimating the power of the Internet
According to Silverberg, the previous Microsoft SVP, Gates failed when he underestimated the power of the Internet. During that time, Bill Gates could not tell how critical the internet had gotten. From a certain perspective, it’s understandable why Gates was reluctant to invest in the internet.
Owning a Windows device in the 90s meant your life was great. As such, there was less inspiration to pursue change. From Bill’s perspective, he was striving to protect his invention. Unfortunately, he didn’t invent a cutting-edge innovation to keep Microsoft and Windows at the forefront.
Before succeeding with Microsoft, Bill Gates’s first venture in the industry was Traf-O-Data. He co-founded this company with Paul Allen. Without a doubt, it was a wonderful business idea that could have succeeded. But, how did it start and what went wrong?
Well, Gates and Allen were great friends since they were in 8th and 10th grade respectively. Before they met, both were working with computers. As such, they had enough knowledge about it before meeting at Lake School.
During one summer, Bill Gates was working for a company that specialized in measuring traffic. They would use pressure tubes that help in counting vehicle wheels when they go over them. To keep track of the count, they would use a certain machine that makes holes in paper. This way, when the car wheel goes over the tube, the machine would punch a hole.
From taking readings to recording results, the entire process was manual. Dealing with a bulk of data to deal was a painstaking process. That’s where the Traf-O-Data idea came from. The objective was to ease this process by automating the counting and creation of reports.
For starters, Gates hired several students from the school to help them with the task. First, they would transfer the data manually from the paper tapes to the computer cards. They would receive 50 cents each for this task.
Thereafter, Gates and Allen would use the library computer at the University of Washington to process the data. They would make data charts representing the hourly flow of traffic. With the help of a third partner later, they built a machine that automatically reads the tape. In this case, they invested a lot of cash to build the microprocessor chip and ease the process. Despite being an ingenious idea, the project was not successful.
Cause of failure
But why did this fail despite being a bright idea? Well, first, they ignored market research, which plays a critical role when it comes to any business. Additionally, they didn’t account for the source of funding. Getting the municipalities to agree to capital commitment was even harder than they’d expected. In 6 years, the project recorded a net loss of $3,494. According to Allen’s statement to Newsweek, they closed down the shop shortly after this
How Gates overcame this failure
While this magnitude of failure can destroy the focus of an average person, it did not affect Gates. If anything, it became an inspiration in their ongoing project, Microsoft. As such, they did not regret working on it in the first place. That’s because they learned the basics of creating Microsoft from this project. Through Traf-O-Data, they learned how microprocessors worked. This was very important for their success in Microsoft.
In 1986, they officially launched their company. Over the years, Microsoft has developed to be the most successful business in the tech industry. A year after its launch, the share price of this company was remarkable. At the same time, Bill Gates became the youngest billionaire.
What startup founders can learn
As a startup struggling to keep up or barely making it, Gates’ failures and comebacks can be true inspirations. They are a reminder that something good can come out of a failure. And while you can always close a chapter, you don’t always end the entire book. You can leverage these lessons as motivation as you pursue a new chapter in your entrepreneurial journey. That being said, here are great lessons from Gates’ failures.
Like Gates, you will encounter obstacles, setbacks, or failures in your venture. These are not always a bad thing. In fact, failures give us reason to celebrate eventual successes. After all, if success was something easy to achieve, then everyone will be successful in their niche.
Rather than a stumbling block, failures are a stepping stone. You gain experience through them. So when you face failure, you should persevere, with the knowledge that success awaits you on the other side. Through perseverance when running Traf-O-Data despite its failures, Gates learned about the basics when it comes to creating Microsoft.
Constant learning and growth
Regardless of your level of expertise in your field, there’s always something new to learn. As such, you should be flexible and able to accommodate new lessons. Failure is also a perfect reminder of this. It enlightens you on where you need more knowledge and experience.
That being said, when you experience failures, is there anything you learn from them? Are you researching ways to do things differently next time and attain your goal?
After a setback, many people would want time off to cool and refresh before getting back to the industry. That was not the case for Gates. Despite the failure and ultimate closure of Traf-O-Data, he was still focused on developing and establishing Microsoft. Thanks to that, wound up being a success.
Similarly, one of your ventures may be struggling to keep up, but despite this, you need to maintain focus. It’s at this moment of stress and struggle that new ideas pop up. Therefore, instead of taking a step back, you should move forward.
Furthermore, you should invest time into learning where you’re failing as a startup owner. If possible, focus only on what you are best at. With knowledge and experience, you can always find a way around obstacles. On the other hand, when you deal with something that feels beyond you, it becomes harder to move forward in case of an obstacle.
Bill Gates is a school dropout. It’s one of his qualities that people like to use when debating over success and the merits of a bachelor’s degree. With the enthusiasm from leaving school and launching his first venture, things didn’t go as planned.
The-O-Data is a perfect example of the failure Gates has been through as an entrepreneur. And it was not the last, as you can see from this article. However, none of these failures matched his passion and skill for programming.
As such, he turned his expertise in computer programming into a success. He became the pioneer of Microsoft. It’s a famous program that’s known around the world. It also made him the youngest billionaire in the world at the age of 31.
According to Gates, celebrating success is okay, but learning from your failures is vital. This doesn’t automatically mean that dropping out of Harvard, or any learning institution for that matter, will make you successful. Earning that degree may be worth it in the course of your life. It may be as important as the passion and drive you have in a particular field in the industry.
How Pressfarm can help you along your journey as an entrepreneur
Marketing and funding were a major setback with Gates’ first company, the Traf-O-Data. Unfortunately, many startups don’t realize just how essential these elements are to success. Some realize their importance, but cannot afford to invest in quality marketing. It is for this exact reason that Pressfarm exists.
Pressfarm is a PR agency that has spent years perfecting PR and marketing strategies designed to help startups boost their online visibility without having to spend thousands of dollars. Rather than marketing to the general public, Pressfarm creates quality content that helps brands stand out. This includes press releases, guest posts and pitches. The experts at Pressfarm then pitch this content to media outlets within the client’s niche.
This targeted pitching strategy is built to get clients published in media outlets that work within their niche while cutting the costs of widespread marketing significantly. By pitching you to outlets that are more likely to be interested in your news, Pressfarm increases your chances of securing media coverage.
During media outreach, creating relationships and networks with the right people is important. The professionals at Pressfarm understand this. For this reason, they build a custom media list to help you connect with media contacts who know the best way to introduce a brand like yours to the public.
The PR specialists, expert writers and certified designers at Pressfarm have years of experience in this field and have what it takes to get your company where you want it to be. They understand the market and what you need to succeed and gain market share. By partnering with Pressfarm, you can put your brand on the map.