What You Can Learn About Running a Business From Henry FordApril 27, 2023 - 6 minutes read
If you had to make a list of people who changed the world essentially just by existing, Henry Ford’s name would likely be on it.
Most people know him from history as the founder of the (appropriately named) Ford Motor Company. Here, he developed the assembly line method of mass production. Not only did this help cut costs enormously, creating the first automobile that average Americans could afford to buy, but it also revolutionized the manufacturing industry. The computer or mobile device that you’re reading this on would have cost a significantly larger amount of money (than it already does) had the assembly line not been invented.
He also introduced the Ford Model T automobile, which revolutionized transportation in this country. He quickly became one of the richest and most famous people on the planet… and it’s safe to say, he definitely earned it.
But it’s important to note that Ford’s impact on history didn’t end with those two ideas. A lot of people don’t realize that he also had a hand in revolutionizing many aspects of how businesses are run in the first place. His processes – not to mention his ideas – should absolutely be learned about and applied to today’s modern world.
Long-Term Lessons From Henry Ford: An Overview
One of Henry Ford’s most important quotes that can be applied to today’s modern business world is as follows:
“The short successes that can be gained in a brief time and without difficulty are not worth as much.”
What he’s essentially saying here is that while most entrepreneurs do dream of being an overnight success (who doesn’t?), nobody wants to be the “one-hit wonder” equivalent of a business. You don’t just want to create a company that people are briefly enamored with and then soon forget, regardless of how successful it makes you. What you should want is to create something that you can then build upon and turn into a legitimate legacy.
This will take time. This will see you face numerous challenges. This will see your career littered with failure along the way. But it doesn’t matter, because the end result of successfully playing the long-game will be worth it for you (and, if you’re half as successful as Ford was, for future generations of your family as well).
On the subject of the failures that you are likely to encounter during your time as an entrepreneur, Henry Ford had this to say:
“Most people think that faith means believing in something; more often it means trying something, giving it a chance to prove itself.”
What he means here is that small companies in particular are founded on two things: a vision and risk. When you have an idea for a product or service, regardless of how much you believe in it, it may not work out as originally intended. What you thought was a good idea will have to be scrapped entirely. Others will have to be adjusted.
Nobody is guaranteed a 100% success rate. But the good news is that this includes your competitors as well. They’ll be facing the same challenges you are, particularly when it comes to the market. So don’t be afraid to take big risks, learn from big failures, and make adjustments that will see you come out all the better for it. It may not feel great initially, but it, too, will be worth it.
Indeed, the life of an entrepreneur is one that is fraught with decisions. All day, every day, people will be looking to you for guidance. But it won’t just be on critically important matters – it will be on the little things, too. This makes “time” one of the most precious commodities you have because, as the old saying goes, there are only so many hours in a day.
On that topic, Henry Ford had this to say:
“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.”
What this means, quite simply, is to “use your time wisely” in whatever context you’re working on. Don’t get distracted by something shiny and new just because it’s more fun to think about or interact with than the real, essential problems you have to solve. Try not to lose track of time because every minute that ticks by when you aren’t accomplishing your goal is a minute you’re not getting back.
In other words, to paraphrase Henry Ford, “go get out there and do something.”