Companies in absolutely any industry can claim research and development (R&D) tax credits. For a successful claim with maximum return, Easy R&D will present to HMRC how your business attempted to or overcame scientific or technological uncertainty.
But don’t be put off by HMRC’s technical language. You don’t need to be handling test tubes, space rockets, or donning white lab coats and goggles to be undertaking qualifying R&D work.
If you’re looking for some inspiration on overcoming uncertainty, then look no further than these ten household names who, despite facing adversity, never gave up.
In 1919, Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor believed he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.
Disney survived by eating dog food and later commented:
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life — all my troubles and obstacles — have strengthened me. You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you”.
Fred falls at first
In his first screen test in the 1930s, the testing director at MGM noted that Fred Astaire, born Frederick Austerlitz, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little”.
Another memo from the audition read: “I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous that it comes through, even on this wretched test”. Astaire kept the negative note in his Beverly Hills home to remind him of how far he’d come.
A big trucking error
Poitier’s pots and pans
After lying about his age to enter the US Army during WWII, Sidney Poitier left the services and became a dishwasher. At his first audition, Poitier, who grew up poor in the Bahamas, was told by the casting director, “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go back to dishwashing or something?”
Poitier won Oscars for Lilies of the Field in 1964 and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in 1967.
Dick declines The Beatles
In 1962, Dick Rowe of Decca Records turned down the chance to sign The Beatles and opted for Brian Poole and the Tremeloes instead, telling the Fab Four’s manager:
“We don’t like your boys’ sound, Mr Epstein. Guitar groups are on their way out. The Beatles have no future in show business”.
Third time unlucky
In the mid-60s, Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television not once, not twice, but three times. The filmmaker later said:
“Failure is inevitable. Success is elusive”.
The Colonel cashes in
At the age of 65, restaurant owner Colonel Harland Sanders had little money to get through retirement. He started travelling door to door and cooking his special fried chicken recipe on the spot for restaurant owners. He was declined 1009 times.
In 1964, at 73 years old, he sold his Kentucky Fried Chicken corporation for $2 million ($16.7 million today). In 1973, Sanders sued Heublein Inc. — the then-parent company of KFC — over the misuse of his image in promoting products he hadn’t developed. In 1975, Heublein Inc. unsuccessfully sued Sanders for libel after the Colonel described their gravy as “wallpaper paste”.
In 1977, Oprah Winfrey was fired as an evening news reporter at Baltimore’s WJZ-TV. She was declared “unfit for television news” because she couldn’t separate her emotions from the stories — an empathetic trait that made her such a hit.
“Think like a queen”, she said. “A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness”.
In the ’90s, Joanna was a single mother on welfare who was struggling to make ends meet. She started writing a book in her local cafe in Edinburgh as her baby slept next to her in a pram.
Joanna approached countless publishers with her story from all over the world, but none were interested, and many criticised it.
Finally, one paid her a small advance to publish her novel. The story was about a young wizard named Harry Potter, and Joanna is better known as J.K. Rowling.
Dyson sucks it up
You know the frustration when you don’t nail something on the first attempt? Try 5,126 attempts.
That’s the number of failed and rejected prototypes Sir James Dyson went through over 15 years before creating his first bagless vacuum cleaner wonder in 1993.
The R&D tax credits scheme could even reward you for unsuccessful projects — providing the intention was there. Get in touch with us to find out how R&D tax credits could transform your business.