- Happy Accidents
- Happy Accidents #052 - Colonel Sanders
Happy Accidents #052 - Colonel Sanders
The OG of Accidental Entrepreneurs
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Welcome to another edition of Happy Accidents, where we uncover the delightful stories behind accidental discoveries.
Today, we're diving into the savory tale of how Colonel Harland Sanders, the man behind the globally recognized Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), accidentally stumbled upon the idea for his iconic chicken franchise.
Let's dig in, shall we?
SETTING THE STAGE
This is the part of every Happy Accident story where we see every successful outcome starts with the person putting themselves in a favorable position. They work hard, they try new things, they meet new people. They're not just sitting around 'hoping' to be successful some day.
Colonel Harland Sanders (born in 1890 in Henryville, Indiana) worked several odd jobs through his teenage years and young twenties providing him with a side variety of experience.
He eventually married and moved his family to Kentucky to start his own ferry boat company.
After a few years (and a few other ventures) he noticed that many truck drivers stopping for gas were hungry and looking for food.
This observation is what kicked off his culinary journey, launching a modest service station in Corbin, Kentucky. Recognizing the power of a well-cooked meal, he began serving travelers in the dining area.
The standout feature?
His secret blend of 11 herbs and spices that would become legendary in the world of fast food (come on, you knew that was coming).
With his success at bringing attention to the area, he was given the honorary title “Colonel Harland Sanders” by the Governor of Kentucky. A new personal brand was born (so that’s where that came from).
For over 20 years, his business was booming. But after a highway bypass was built, his popular gas station was suddenly in a less than desirable location for drivers to fill up.
The business died.
What he did next was accidental brilliance…
THE HAPPY ACCIDENT
This is the part of every success story where there's a chance encounter, a serendipitous moment, an unintentional discovery (or Happy Accident) that paves the way for the next steps. In some cases, a Happy Accident can even be disguised as something bad in the moment.
Faced with financial challenges, Sanders hatched an idea that would change the fast-food landscape forever: he decided to franchise his finger-lickin' good fried chicken.
This decision, driven by necessity, marked an accidental stroke of genius. Sanders hit the road, crisscrossing the United States to pitch his secret recipe to potential franchisees.
Little did he know this move would transform a local sensation into a global phenomenon.
Just like Happy Accidents don't just fall into your lap (you need to set the stage first), they also don't turn into anything if you don't recognize them and take action. This is the part of every success story where we see people capitalizing on their Happy Accident.
The franchising model became the secret sauce for KFC's success.
The unique taste, combined with the widespread accessibility brought about by franchising, turned KFC into a household name.
Sanders' entrepreneurial spirit and the unexpected success of his franchising venture catapulted his fried chicken into the hearts (and stomachs) of people worldwide.
TOO LONG; DIDN’T READ (TL;DR)
Colonel Harland Sanders accidentally discovered the recipe for his iconic fried chicken while running a service station in Corbin, Kentucky.
Faced with a decline in customer traffic due to a new interstate, Sanders fortuitously decided to franchise his secret recipe.
This accidental move transformed KFC into a global phenomenon, showcasing the unexpected success that can arise from adapting to challenges and seizing unforeseen opportunities.
Some fun facts:
Colonel Sanders' Age: Did you know that Colonel Sanders was in his 60s when he began franchising KFC? Age is just a number when it comes to chasing your dreams!
Global Impact: KFC is now a global brand with outlets in over 145 countries and territories. Who would have thought a small-town recipe would conquer the world?
Original Recipe: The iconic blend of 11 herbs and spices remains a closely guarded secret. Even today, only a handful of people reportedly know the full recipe.
Speaking of the secret recipe, check out this video that goes behind the scenes of how the famous KFC chicken is made 👇
The lessons here:
Adaptability: Sanders adapted to challenges by franchising, showcasing the power of being flexible in the face of adversity.
Innovation in Unexpected Places: The accidental discovery of the franchising model demonstrated how innovation can emerge from unexpected circumstances.
Timing Matters: Sanders' decision to franchise came at a time when America was embracing the convenience of fast food, showcasing the importance of perfect timing in business.
AND ANOTHER THING…
If you’re going to head down the path of entrepreneurship, it’s SO important to have the support of your friends and family. My wife is my rock.
Hey, Dennis Geelen here. Author of the Happy Accidents newsletter.
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