Henry Ford, the founder of the American automaker Ford Motor Company, is widely recognized not only for his accomplishments, but for his way of thinking and leading. His legacy is filled with inspirational quotes and memories which collectively point toward a powerful philosophy of entrepreneurship.Here are five entrepreneurship lessons from Henry Ford.
Be so good at what you do that people think you invented it
Henry Ford often gets credited as the man who invented automobiles. This was not remotely true, but Ford was indeed so passionate about automobiles, and so instrumental to their presence in American and world culture, that he regularly gets credit for it.
Do your work with such a strong spirit of passion and excellence that the kind of work you do becomes an inextricable part of the market you serve.
This is not about honing your image. It’s about liberating your highest truth. Do what you love, what ignites your most fervent and excited emotions. When you do so, you’ll find that your love is contagious, and the better you get at what you do, the more people will love that thing, as well.
Failures are opportunities
Ford failed many times before he finally succeeded. Such a trajectory is incredibly common among entrepreneurs. Human beings tend to downplay their failures, but the truth is that no person is immune to failure, which is a good thing, since failures are merely opportunities disguised as negative events.
As Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” We must take our failures as our teachers.
When failures occur, do not focus on the emotional disappointment, and try instead to focus on the intellectual gain. Within every failure is valuable information
Failure educate us on what doesn’t work for us. If we fail to listen, and keep repeating ourselves, then we truly are doomed to failure. But if we tune in close, and cultivate a habit of revising our trajectories when failure strikes, we stand a chance at truly succeeding in the end.
Be as strong behind the scenes as you are anywhere else
The last thing an entrepreneur wants to do is slip into the trap of looking impressive to others while not really having a substantive game behind closed doors.
As Henry Ford said, “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”
In other words, don’t exist to impress. Engage with the process, attend to details, exercise impeccable judgment, down to the tiniest aspect of whatever it is that you’re involved in.
And in the end, per Ford’s wisdom, it doesn’t matter what people think. It only matters how well they are served.
Don’t be a showoff
Ford was known to be outwardly modest, and to dress in informal clothes. One day his secretary asked him why he didn’t dress up more. Ford scoffed at such a notion, explaining to her that everyone already knew he was Henry Ford, so he wasn’t required to underline that fact.
Later on, during a world tour, Ford found himself in foreign lands, where no one could recognize him on sight. His secretary again suggested less modest clothing. His answer? He didn’t want to be bothered dressing up for people who didn’t even know that he was Henry Ford
If they didn’t know him, he wasn’t about to shine a spotlight on himself. He was simply going to show up as himself.
Yet the underlying convictions informing his choice of attire are a wonderful advice for all entrepreneurs. It goes hand-in-hand with “doing it right when no one is looking.” Don’t be a walking advertisement for yourself while having nothing or little to offer. Exist in service to your customers and clients for they are the ones that truly matter, and the ones that pay the bills.
Don’t only be in the business of making money
A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.
So many businesses are essentially cash grabs. They prey on people’s weaker impulses, or worse, their outright, urgent needs. Those who run these businesses may enjoy many luxuries but they will always live in shame. They may not care, the question is, would you?
It’s far better to be a provider of real value. Oftentimes, the opposite is true: So many entrepreneurs achieve financial success because they’re playing some essential role in people’s lives. As such, money isn’t the object of the game; it’s merely a natural aspect of each transaction.