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colonel sanders story

Colonel Sanders who officially went by the name of Colonel Harland David Sanders, was the American businessman who founded and popularized the famed brand known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. His story is unique, and is one that every entrepreneur or dream chaser should know about.

We believe success leaves clues, and Colonel Sander’s story not only does that, but it also provides a level of encouragement that can help just about anybody get through the struggles we all face as we strive to achieve our aims.

So, with that being said, if you’re ready to learn and be inspired by one of the best failure to success stories of all time, then let’s dive into this epic Colonel Sanders Story of Success.


colonel sanders success story

Early Days

Colonel Harland David Sanders was born September 9, 1890 in Henryville, Indiana. He was the oldest of three brothers and was born into a family that struggled to make ends meet.

His father passed away when he was just six years old, and his mother worked long hours in a tomato canning factory. Harland was no stranger to hard work as he would become a farmhand to help out the household financially at the age of 10.

When 7th grade rolled around Harland would drop out of school to go work off of a farm. Thus, at the age of 13 he left home to achieve his fortune working various odd jobs. When things weren’t working out financially, he decided to join the military.

So, at the age of 16, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, even though he did so by faking his age. Colonel Harland Sanders would serve one year before getting honorably discharged.

An Early Career That Was All Over The Map

Once Good Ole Harland Sanders got out of the military, he would go on to take countless jobs in a variety of different fields. Most of the jobs he’d lose would be due to quarrels with others or just plain old misfortune.

Over the years he’d flit from job to job in a manner and frequency that would even impress a Millennial. Here’s a snapshot of just a portion of his job-hopping ways:

  • Worked For The Railroad Company (Lost His Job Due To Fighting).
  • Legal Career (Lost His Job After Attempting To Beat His Own Client With A Chair).
  • Life Insurance Salesman (lost this job due to insubordination).
  • Life Insurance Salesman (Lost This Job Due To Insubordination).
  • Started A Ferry Boat Company (Succeeded And Cashed It Out).
  • Took A Job As The Secretary Of The Chamber Of Commerce (Resigned Within A Year).
  • Started A Lamp Manufacturing Business (It Failed).
  • Took A Job As Salesman For The Michelin Tire Company (Was Eventually Laid Off).
  • Landed A Job Running A Service Station (Station Closed Due To The Economy).
colonel sanders story quote

Positive Change, For A While

Things started to change for Colonel Sanders when he hit 40. He would eventually land another job working for a service station out of Kentucky. This time, he worked for Shell, and was allowed to live their rent free so long as he paid a portion of his sales to the company.

And, because he had a living quarters within this station, Sanders started to experiment with offering up his delicious chicken to customers. The demand for his meals grew so large, that he eventually opened up a restaurant in the station to serve all the interested customers.

Sanders’ popularity grew so fast within the community, that he practically became a household name locally. Everybody knew Sanders, especially because he did volunteer work delivering babies locally, that and because everyone loved the delicious meals his restaurant served. And before he knew it, his generosity and popularity helped him earn the title of colonel by the Governor of Kentucky.

With his restaurant business and reputation humming along, Sanders would seek to expand his empire. He purchased a hotel in North Carolina, but then just a few short months later, his popular restaurant in Kentucky would burn down.

Sanders would go on to rebuild it, but the economy was starting to become severely impacted by WWII, which would eventually force him to close his North Carolina hotel.

Refiring Instead of Retiring

When Sanders hit the age of 52 he started to dabble with the idea of franchising his secret recipe. He would call his perfected recipe, “Kentucky Fried Chicken”. Unfortunately, his idea to franchise his recipe didn’t receive the warm welcome he was hoping for. In fact, his recipe would get rejected 1,009 times before anyone warmed up to the idea.

But, he persisted and eventually found a few converts he and there, and would eventually negotiate around 4 cents for every chicken sold that used his recipe.

Unfortunately, at the age of 65, Sanders’ hit restaurant in Kentucky would eventually lose steam. As such, he sold it. Sanders was now forced into early retirement with only a small amount of savings and a measly social security check to live off of.

But, believing that every failure could be a stepping stone to something better, he decided to use his new found circumstances as an opportunity to really push his recipe franchising idea into overdrive. So, he hit the road and did what he did best aside from making phenomenal chicken, he started selling his recipe.

And as the saying goes, the rest is history. Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise would explode in popularity and demand. He got the funding he’d been looking for and expanded his franchise all over the country, and then the world.

Avalanches of success flowed the Colonel’s way, and before he knew it he had over 600 franchises selling his chicken all over the world. This new found success allowed Colonel Sanders to finally slow down at the ripe age of 73. So, he sold his company and turned him into a multi-millionaire overnight.

Success In His Own Words

Before we wrap up this Colonel Sanders story of success and achievement, here are a few of his own insights on success. Consider these quotes his very own advice on what it takes to succeed in the world of business, as he has:

Read More: Colonel Sanders Quotes

Final Thoughts

Th Colonel Sanders success story demonstrates how someone can flit around from job to job and still eventually find his groove and leave a legacy. Sander’s story also shows that hard work and diligence eventually pays off, especially if you press on long enough.

But most importantly, Colonel Sanders’ story highlights how it’s possible to continually turn your life around, and go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm, and that there is a fantastic reward that awaits those who through sheer will and persistence, keep striving for their goals.

Colonel Sanders is indeed an icon, a legend, and yes even a massive failure…. but that’s exactly why he’s also a massive success.

Till you reach your aims,


PS – If you enjoy this Colonel Sanders Success Story, then chances are you’ll also enjoy these handful of motivational stories.

The STRIVE is on a mission to inspire and uplift 1 billion people by 2032. Our primary aim is to help as many people as possible believe in the uncommon thought, that they can be more than they are, do more than they've done, and achieve more prosperity than they've ever dreamed possible. Let's achieve the impossible together.