For more encouragement, take a look, below, at what some World’s most prominent people have handled their situations and succeed to tell their story:
1. Henry Ford
Out of his strong vision, Mr Ford, the 20th Century American business icon, created the assembly line and became the first person to mass-produce automobiles. It is reported that (Venture Capital Sources) Ford raised a nominal sum of money from friends for initial working capital purposes. He then proceeded to cleverly negotiate deals with his suppliers that let him purchase parts on credit. This, in turn, motivated him to sell his cars quickly at a profit to repay his suppliers. After years of diligently reinvesting those profits back into the business, Ford Motor became an industrial giant and is now a Legend. If he could do this, you too can do something else with your vision.
2. Ray Kroc
In 1952, Ray came across a small business outfit in California, the USA that had created an efficient operation that offered a limited menu, concentrating on just a few items—burgers, fries, and milkshake—which allowed it to focus on quality and quick service. Ray Kroc converted this business in 1955 to a franchise that became nationwide by building a restaurant system that would be famous for providing food of consistently high quality and uniform methods of preparation.
He wanted to serve burgers, buns, fries, and beverages that tasted just the same in Alaska as they did in Alabama. He emphasized in quality, service, cleanliness, and value for money. As Ray sold each of the Macdonald’s franchise, he ensured that the purchaser bought the land in which the business is located as well for the franchise company.
Today, Macdonald’s is an icon in fast-food and is also the largest single owner of real estate and owns some of the most valuable intersections and street corners in America and other parts of the World as well. This was a great vision that started from the simple idea of turning a food outfit into a franchise business.
3. Bill Gates and Paul Allen
Bill Gates dropped out of college and teamed up with Paul Allen and with their vision, created the Windows operating system that drives 90% of all personal computers. Lesson: School does not make you rich. School is only supposed to polish what will make you rich, not make you rich.
Bill Boeing, Microsoft, and Sony: Bill Boeing’s first plane was such a failure that his aircraft company sold furniture for a few years. Microsoft, the Software giant lost money for its first two years and did not give up because of this courage against failure. This write-up is being written today on the back of Microsoft operating systems.
Sony, the Japanese electronic maestro re-started after World War II in a bombed-out basement of a department store in Tokyo. Boeing, Microsoft and Sony, despite their initial failures, are all hugely successful companies today. We all know about Boeing 747 airplanes, Microsoft operating software, and Sony TVs and cameras which would not be there if the founders had allowed fear or failure to defeat them.
3. Thomas Edison
Edison, as has been told, is the father of the incandescent light bulb and had very little education and was almost deaf. Despite these handicaps, Edison invented the light bulb in 1878 after more than three years of experimenting and three thousand failed attempts. After all these, Edison quipped that he now knew several thousand things that would not work!
If Edison had feared failure, there would probably be no light bulb today. After the light bulb, Edison followed thereafter in 1882 with commercial electric grids that we see today as power supply mains. These are things that we take for granted today but they were invented out of nothing but vision and tenacity.
What about you who are better educated and have all five senses functioning properly and with the internet to boot.
4. Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln was the President of the USA from 1861 to 1865 and had to endure three failures and a near-crippling sickness which he overcame and proceeded to become one of the outstanding presidents of the USA.
5. Richard Bronson
Richard, of the famous Virgin Empire business, dropped out of high school and his school teacher told him he was no good in business. Had Richard listened to them, he would be nowhere today.
6. Michael Jordan
Michael was the greatest Basketball player of his time despite having been dropped out of a high school Basketball team as having no knowledge or skills to be a Basketball player. Michael did not give up.
7. Stephen King
Stephen is a hugely successful writer but this did not come easy. He threw the manuscript for his first book, Carrie, into a garbage bin because he was tired of rejection by publishers. A while later, his wife fished out the script and encouraged him to resubmit it and this launched a very successful career as a bestselling author with some of his write-ups being converted into movies.
8. Dr. Ben Carson
(African-American Neurosurgeon) said: “I struggled academically throughout elementary school yet became the best Neurosurgeon in the World in 1987″. Lesson: Struggling is a sign that you are on a verge of success. Don’t quit yet.
9. Christian Ronaldo
said: “I told my father that we would be very rich but he couldn’t believe me. I made it a reality”. Lesson: Your words rule your life. If you mean what you have said, each word will come to pass. You get what you say.
10. Lionel Messi
“I used to serve tea at a shop to support my football training and still became one of the World’s best footballers”. Lesson: Believe in your dream. Don’t let your pain tell you how your future will look like..
11. Steve Jobs
penned: “I used to sleep on the floor in my friends’ rooms, returning Coke bottles for food, money and getting weekly free meals at a local temple, I, later on, founded Apple Company”. Lesson: That you are small today doesn’t mean you will be small tomorrow. Keep trusting God.
12. Tony Blair
Former British PM, said: “My teachers used to call me a failure, but I became a Prime Minister”. Lesson: Don’t let someone else’s opinions of you become your reality.
13. Bishop David Oyedepo
said: “I started Living Faith Church from A Lawn Tennis Court with three members only & Preach prosperity. Many of my friends criticised me, but today we have the largest church auditorium in the World & two world-class universities”. Lesson: Believe in yourself even if no one does & never think of quitting.
14. Nelson Mandela
said: “I was in prison for 27 years & still became president.” Lesson: You can be anything you want to be no matter where you have been or what you have been through.
15. Mike Adenuga
: “I drove a taxi to finance my university education but today I’m a billionaire”. Lesson: Don’t let your past decide the kind of future you need to have.
16. Harland Sanders
, founder of KFC said: “I was on the verge of suicide when an idea of opening a restaurant hit me after I retired as a cook in the Navy.”. Lesson: Nothing is ever too late. “Too late” is a language of failures. Your future can begin at any age. Don’t ever let AGE make limit you. He was 65 when he started KFC.
17. Aliko Dangote
of Nigeria said: “I worked for my uncle since I was a small boy, people looked down on me. I, later on, took a loan from my uncle to open a tiny shop. I worked hard to make ends meet. Now I am the World’s Richest Man in Africa. Lesson: Failures or limitations of the past have no control over the greatness in you. To him believes, all things are possible.
18. Barack Obama
said: “I am a son of a black immigrant from Kenya (Africa), I graduated from Harvard and later on became a Senator in the USA Senate. I was also the President of the Most Powerful Nation on Earth. Lesson: Never design your life like a garden where anyone can walk in and out. Design it like the Sky where everyone aspires to reach!
19. Jack Ma
Ma founded Alibaba after many unsuccessful ventures he tried from 1980 when he was a 12-year-old boy to 1999 when he founded Alibaba. These include struggling to learn English, difficulties in passing maths exams and acquiring higher education, stints in government jobs that he didn’t like, and other business ventures that did not work well.
Even Alibaba itself which now is the Amazon of China had its share of ups and downs as well as fights with Yahoo and E-bay. Alibaba has been reported saying “Don’t be cowed by the big players in your industry, or the people with top credentials. The most important ingredients in business are vision, patience, and agility”.
20. Conrad Hilton
Hilton is the founder of Hilton chain of hotels that now number over 5,000 across 80 countries in the world. Hilton tried several things that didn’t work before, by chance, coming across and buying a run-down hotel in Texas, USA which started it all. This led to the birth of The Hilton Hotel, Dallas in 1924-25 and the rest is history. It was not all smooth but he made it with dreaming big, work, and prayer. When you keep trying and moving, you will stumble upon your luck. It is only those who walk who stumble. If you stand still, you are unlikely to stumble and you will not stumble on anything either.
A word of caution
Roughly, out of 2 (20%) successful businesses, there are 8 (80%) that start and fail by their fifth birthday or sooner. But that should not be a deterrent. It is the 20% successful businesses that provide needed goods, services, and employment to millions of people.
Take the Gillette shaving razor blade for instance. The inventor of this device, King Gillette was led to this invention by being frustrated by a blade that he needed to sharpen each time he wanted to shave his beard. He thought of an idea but failed to gain the support of a research university that he had approached for support.
The university told him that his was a crazy idea that could not be done. He also faced near bankruptcy in the process of implementing his idea but he never gave up on all these. The result is the product that men and women use and take for granted today. There are many products like this. The yellow and pink page markers invented by employees of 3M Company of the USA are another example simple product that is taken for granted today.
The main causes of failure in business are poor visioning, poor research and poor preparation (business planning) before starting. Others are poor management, financial stewardship, marketing and customer service. What then can be done to reduce the failure rate? I suggest the following:
- Have a vision. Spend time and energy to create a vision of doing something to serve the people not yourself. Save people money and time, remove a hassle, improve comfort, enhance image or prestige, and so on. This is the first thing.
- Think of a product or service that people want, not what you think they want or what you want to offer because of the skills, knowledge, and experience that you have.
- How do you know what people want? Do research. Research by psychologists shows that people of certain demographics buy things based on their specific psychographics. Demographics tell you who people are and psychographics tell you why they do certain things or behave in a certain way. Once you know people’s demographics, you can tell their particular psychographics.
- You can know a group of people’s demographics by asking or surveying them. You define your ideal potential customer for your product or service, identify where they are, and survey them. Once you know their demographics and psychographics, you develop your product or service based on this knowledge of your customers and craft appropriate marketing and selling strategies (messaging) to target them to attract, sell to and retain their loyalty.
- Support all the above with a workable business plan with clear and realistic goals; proper management structures, organs, facilities, and systems; marketing; administration (and HR management), and financial stewardship. The systems, procedures, and processes that you put in place should be documented in detail and be self-executing rather than people-based. They should also be geared to delivering what the customer wants, not the bureaucratic or whims of your business. The business is for the customer, not you.
- Banish fear and start. Start small to have the opportunity to test things and keep innovating (improving) according to messages from the market before you pour too much resource.
If we do these, we can have a realistic chance of reducing the rate of failure from 80% to 20%. These are my thoughts.