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It’s Safe To Say The Colonel Had An Eventful Life – Here Is Why You Can Learn From It

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“You’re too old to start”.

“You’re not an entrepreneur – you’re not that type of person”.

If you have ever touted the idea that you want to start a business and have been immediately shut down then carry on reading.

KFC’s Founder, Colonel Sanders faced so much adversity throughout his life that to see him end up as a successful multi-millionaire with a legacy that has lasted up until this day is nothing short of remarkable.

Not only did he overcome a number of setbacks he did it whilst he was in his 50s and 60s – proof that you are never too old to pursue your dreams.

How It All Started

His name was Harland David Sanders and he was born on September 9 1890.

He left home at the age of 13 when life at home with his step father became unbearable. During this time he enlisted in the US Army then became a Fireman, a Lawyer, a Life Insurance Salesman and Ferry boat owner in Louisville, Kentucky.

You can start to see that Sanders wasn’t fazed by much as he worked in so many different industries.

Whilst his time in each profession wasn’t a complete “success” (in fact he was fired on a number of occasions for brawling with colleagues) it didn’t stop him from trying something new and approaching a new profession with an open mind and with the belief that he could succeed.

Such a quality was imperative to his later success.

Enter Kentucky Fried Chicken

At the age of 40 Sanders started working in a service station in Kentucky where he started a restaurant out of his living room.

Although he wasn’t a trained chef he took to the business quickly and started experimenting with different recipes for passing trade.

Over time as he perfected his skills the popularity of the restaurant grew as people would travel hundreds of miles to come and try the Colonel’s secret recipe chicken.

Capitalising on Initial Success

There is nothing remarkable about a restaurant having good quality products and garnering a local following. There are a number of such businesses in your town today who make a decent living from providing a good service to the community.

What is remarkable is the expansion of this business to become a worldwide sensation which is still enjoyed by millions of families today.

After the Second World War the Colonel did try to open a number of restaurants but with limited success. It was in 1952 at the ripe old age of 62 when he had the genius idea of franchising his secret recipe.

It was this decision that would change his life.

After his first franchise was a success he would travel to restaurants all over the country to pitch his secret recipe. But when participating restaurants started to see their profits soar the Colonel became inundated with requests to franchise his famous secret recipe.

The success became too much for Sanders and managing the 600 franchises had taken its toll. He decided in 1964 to sell the company for $2million ($17million approx. today). He became an ambassador for the company and started to play the role of “The Colonel” that the company still markets today.

The Colonel


It’s not always obvious how our lives will turn out even if you plan everything out, unexpected events will always get in the way.

Like the Second World War destroying Sanders service station business these unforeseen things are out of your control.

But what is your control is the mindset you have when approaching a new business and the reaction to the inevitable highs and lows.

Sanders perseverance up until his 60s and 70s and the ability to keep moving forward is something we can all learn from and apply in our lives.


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