Milton grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. He worked hard and helped his parents on the farm. He dropped out of school after the 4th grade because he had to work to help support his family. Later, he worked as a printer’s apprentice and thought he had a start at a career. Unfortunately, he discovered that printing wasn’t for him and left. At age 15, he worked as an apprentice for a confectioner and found candy suited him better than printing.
At 19, he borrowed $100 from his aunt and opened a candy shop in Philadelphia. He made caramels at night and sold them with a push cart during the day. He worked 15 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even so, his business failed after only six years.
Milton moved to Denver with his father to try his luck at prospecting silver. They had no luck. Eventually, Milton ended up working for another confectioner. There, he learned skills that eventually would prove to be even more valuable than silver. Milton eventually left Denver and launched a business in Chicago. It failed. Then he moved to New Orleans and launched another business. It failed. He moved to New York and launched another business. It failed.
Finally after failing at so many opportunities and businesses, Milton moved back home to Pennsylvania. He was penniless and his family had given up on him. They wouldn’t even take him in and definitely would not lend him money. He was alone, broke and without support. He was a failure. Then a former employee, Henry, came to his rescue. Henry took Milton in and lent him the money to move his candy making equipment from New York to Pennsylvania. He experimented tirelessly with different recipes. By using the techniques he learned in Denver, he founded the Lancaster Caramel Company, which is still in business 125 years later. One day he saw a demonstration of chocolate-making equipment and felt that chocolates were a bigger opportunity than caramels. He followed his heart and sold Lancaster Caramel Company and used the money to found Hershey’s Chocolate Company. You may have heard of it.
The moral here is that it may take a person a thousand failed attempts before they reach their success! Milton Hershey worked for many years, failed at several careers and many businesses before his first success with Lancaster Caramel. With each failure, he took away valuable lessons. With each learned lesson, he launched into the next opportunity. Even though his family had given up on him, he kept on. He didn’t listen to others telling him that he couldn’t do it or telling him to give up. He kept trying and trying. Milton never gave up. He eventually founded one of the most successful chocolate companies in American history.