What Colonel Sanders Was Doing Before KFC

Even though the iconic face of Kentucky Fried Chicken was worth millions thanks to his own hard work by the time of his death, Colonel Harland Sanders was something of a failure his entire life. In fact, when Sanders sold KFC to a group of investors, it was for just $2 million. Just seven years after his initial sale, KFC sold for $280 million (via Biography).

Though Sanders wasn't much of a businessman, he did start working at a very young age. Sanders was born in 1890 in Henryville, Indiana, and when he was just 6 years old, his father died. This left Sanders to take care of and provide for himself and his siblings. Sanders eventually dropped out of school in seventh grade and left home to take his first job, which he followed with a year of service in the United States Army after faking his age (via Snag a Job).

Colonel Sanders had a few early jobs

Colonel Sanders's first job was as a farmhand. After serving in the army, he worked as a railroad laborer (while he studied law) which he left because of a fight he was in with another employee. Next, Sanders moved home and began selling life insurance, but was fired for insubordination. By 1920, Sanders had learned that self-employment might be best, thanks to his apparent inability to work well with others, so he founded his own ferry boat company. He eventually sold his ferry company to try making lamps, but he couldn't compete with a company that was already selling better light fixtures. By the time Sanders was 40, he was running a gas station in Kentucky, and that's where he began selling his famous chicken prior to the initial Kentucky Fried Chicken café and restaurants.

His struggles to work with others never went away, and Sanders even injured his gas station business rival in a fatal shootout over an advertisement. From courtroom brawls with clients as a lawyer to delivering babies, Sanders was truly a renaissance man (via History). If only the Colonel's business acumen and temper had stayed in check, his ambition would likely have made him far more money than he ever saw.