The Best Success Lessons I Learned Came From My Biggest Failure

In 2003 it felt like my entire world was crashing down on me. I had just spent four years with a team of people, fanatically devoted to developing and launching a product that was so unique, if we succeeded it would completely alter the credit card industry. We failed. I was out of a job, with a family to support, a new home and mortgage, my oldest child just starting private high school ($11,000 a year at the time) and most of my savings lost to the failed start up. It never occurred to me we would fail. I was that confident. Now, I was the most terrified I had ever been in my life. I never felt so all alone. And I felt like a complete failure; a loser.

I eventually bounced back but I learned some profound lessons that stick with me to this day. I have been applying these lessons to my author business and they have been largely responsible for helping me become a best selling author. Here’s what I learned:

  • Always maintain “control” over any business endeavor. Control means owning more than 50% of the business stock, ownership, voting rights etc. When you give up control of your business, other than as an exit strategy, you’ve lost your business.
  • Be very selective over who you allow to be your business partners. Select partners who have extensive experience in the business you are starting and who have the skills needed to make it successful.
  • Never Quit, even when those around you are quitting and telling you to quit. Persistently pursue your big goal.
  • Have multiple sources of working capital (money or financing sources) you can tap, not just one.
  • Have multiple sources of income. Either a side business, side job, a hobby that can generate cash flow or other investments that generate cash flow etc.
  • Use other people’s money in starting a business as much as you can without giving up ownership control. Don’t invest 100% of your savings. Have a savings reserve that will cover your living expenses for six months, in the event the business fails.
  • Every new business requires 2-3 times as much working capital as expected, takes 2-3 times as long as expected to become a viable business and generates 1/3 – 1/2 the expected cash flow. As a result your financial assumptions are always wrong. Income and expense projections, which are based on these assumptions, will be wrong. Expenses will be 2-3 times higher and revenue will be 1/3-1/2 lower.
  • Make sure you have an exceptionally strong marriage. If your marriage is shaky the start-up may put you in divorce court.
  • Do not delegate critical tasks. Never accept that something critical has been taken care of by your business partners. All critical tasks should be controlled by you.
  • Keep your new business start-up lean. You don’t need nearly as many staff (employees) as you think you need.
  • Test pilot new products or new services for six months before launching the new product or new service.
  • Lastly, you will make numerous mistakes. Document every mistake and the lesson learned from it.


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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley understands the difference between being rich and poor: at age nine, his family went from being multi-millionaires to broke in just one night, due to a catastrophic fire that destroyed his Dad's thriving business. For fourteen years they struggled with poverty. There were eleven in Tom's family, and they lived in constant fear of losing their home.

Driven by the desire to unlock the secrets to success and failure, Tom spent five years studying the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people. He discovered there was an immense difference between the habits of the rich and the poor. During his research he identified over 300 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” Tom decided to write a book to share what he learned. That book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (1st Edition), went on to become an Amazon Bestseller in the United States forty times over a three year period. To give you some perspective, in order to be a true Amazon Bestseller in the United States, where you actually receive a specific Bestseller designation from Amazon, you need to be in the top 100 of all books sold by Amazon in the United States in a given day. Rich Habits did that for nearly thirty straight days, rising as high as #7, eclipsing such Bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, Robert Kiyosaki and J.K. Rowlings. Imagine that - an unknown, first-time, self-published author selling more books than J.K. Rowlings!

Tom now travels the world, sharing his Rich Habits and motivating audiences at industry conferences, corporate events, universities, multi-level marketing group events, and global sales organizations’ presentations and finance conferences. He has even spoken on the same stage with famous entrepreneurs and personal development experts, such as Sir Richard Branson, Robin Sharma, Dr. Daniel Amen, and many others.

Tom has shared his insights on various national and international network, cable, and Internet television programs such as CBS Evening News, NBC News, Yahoo Financially Fit,, India TV, Australia, and a host of others. He has been interviewed on many prestigious nationally syndicated radio shows, including the Dave Ramsey Show, Marketplace Money, and WABC.

Tom has been featured in numerous print magazines—such as Money magazine, Inc. Magazine, SUCCESS Magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, Fast Company magazine, More magazine, Epoca Magazine (Brazil’s largest weekly) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine—and various online publications, including USA Today, CNN, MSN Money,,, and the Huffington Post. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider,, and a few other media outlets.

National publicity has garnered international media attention for Tom and his Rich Habits research spanning 23 countries. Broadcast media, online publications, and television throughout Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Central and South America have shared his powerful message.

In an effort to help parents, grandparents, teachers and adults become success mentors to the younger generation, Tom released his second book, Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to be Happy and Successful in Life in 2014. This book was the self-help category winner of the 2015 New York Book Festival and Runner-up in the prestigious 2015 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest. In 2016 Tom released his third book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. This book provides the latest science on habit change as well as more of Tom's unique research on the specific habits that helped transform 177 ordinary individuals into self-made millionaires.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, and hold a master’s degree in taxation. As president of Cerefice and Company, CPAs, Tom heads one of the premier financial firms in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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