American industrialist Henry Ford is one of the most innovative entrepreneurs to have ever lived. Ford Motor Company revolutionized the transport and manufacturing industries, allowing everyday consumers to access vehicles of their own for the very first time.
But what can he teach you about success, and how can you adapt these lessons for your own business?
"A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business."
Ford was ahead of his time for understanding that there is much more than making a profit involved in determining how successful a company is. From ensuring your products are targeting the right consumers, to them being of a high quality and making sure that your employees are happy, there are many elements that make up a truly successful business.
"Vision without execution is just hallucination."
Coming up with the ideas is one of the hardest parts of running a business, which Ford himself appreciated, but you need to take the next step. It doesn't matter how innovative or life-changing your plan is if you never get around to implementing it. Of course, running your company is important, but don't get too bogged down in the everyday stuff and forget to introduce fresh ideas or your business will soon lose its relevance.
"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said 'faster horses'."
Understanding consumers and what they want is a key element of having a successful business model, but you need to recognize when they don't know what they want. Instead of focusing on what customers say, identify their pain points and find ways to address them. When Ford invented the car, he knew people wanted to be able to get around faster, but only he was innovative enough to see the potential opportunity.
"You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do."
It's important that you're able to follow through in business, not just with your innovative ideas, but when it comes to your workforce too. Having managers that make promises that never come into fruition will lose you - and them - the respect of your employees, which is incredibly hard to earn back. Prioritize your workforce and ensure that the measures you want to take to improve their satisfaction are achievable before you make any promises.
"To do more for the world than the world does for you – that is success."
Ford understood that having a business model that gave something back was the true definition of success. Whether your focus is on sustainability, your eco-footprint, being an employer that empowers employees, or creating a product that will change lives to some degree, looking at the ways your company can have a positive impact on the world can help you define what success looks like for you.