“FAILED ENGINEER” – these were the two words associated with Henry Ford when two of his automobile companies had crashed and burnt. A common problem quoted in his companies was that he tried to perfect every automobile being made, and this caused him to be significantly late on his deliveries. He was starting to lose the trust of his financial support systems and many pulled out of his ventures. He was producing automobiles that worked, but he couldn’t sell enough to cover his costs, let alone make profits – neither was he equipped with the tools to produce at a large scale.
The two failed companies, namely, The Henry Ford Company and Detroit Automobile company, however, did not deter Henry Ford and he managed to scrape together an investor for his third venture: Ford Motor Company. Equipped with the knowledge of what went wrong and getting a fair share of knowledge about the inner workings of an assembly line, Ford was optimistic about his new venture!
This time around, in order to manage his business better, Ford made an outside hire to take care of distributions and related business matters, so he could focus upon production solely. This venture wasn’t a smooth operation by any chance. The Model A launched by Ford started selling, but there were some gaping holes in the first edition of the product. However, Ford refused to give up, and with the feedback from mechanics, he kept improving the design.
After failing hard and fast again in the third venture for long periods, Ford was finally able to produce the Model T, which became the World’s best selling car at the time.
The first middle-class car that the Americans could afford!
Finally! Ford had hit gold! He had produced a best-selling car, business was booming, everything was going great. Henry Ford had become a rich man, a billionaire! In 1925, Henry Ford became a 10-figure individual. Ford had become a worldwide, as well as, a household name. By the time 1918 rolled around, more than 50% of the cars in America were Ford Model Ts.
“FAILURE IS SIMPLY THE OPPORTUNITY TO BEGIN AGAIN, THIS TIME MORE INTELLIGENTLY.” He was quoted saying, commenting on his immense success. But here’s the punch line :
EVEN THE SUPER SUCCESSFUL MAKE MISTAKES.
Failing Fast, Again!
Even though Ford had become a major name in the automobile industry across the world, it wasn’t like he was error-free in his further ventures. FORD HAD MANY FAILURES, for eg.
- A rubber factory he started, by investing millions of dollars, operated by factory managers was turned to ruins because of bad management and natural factors. This project of having autonomy for rubber of the tires fell through and failed miserably.
- Once the Ford Model T was famous, Ford refused to upgrade the model and his sales started declining rapidly.
- Ford refused to advertise and promote his products. “IF YOU REALLY HAVE A GOOD THING, IT WILL ADVERTISE ITSELF”, he said. We can only imagine the hold he had over the automobile industry.
Learnings from Henry Ford
Even though we have dedicated this whole piece to tell you how much Henry Ford failed, we still remember him as a revolutionary who created enormous wealth, changed the face of the automobile industry, and brought an industrial revolution to numerous cities across the United States at a war-stricken time!
How did he accomplish this even after failing so much? What did we learn from this?
- Henry Ford created much more powerful and impactful success in comparison to his failures, so much so, that in the grand scheme of things, nobody really remembers them or focuses on them. The thing about success is that one big success can overhaul many failures along the path.
- Failing is just a way for us to do things better the next time, that’s all you can do really!
- Success is like a beautiful lawn or garden, no matter how green it gets or beautiful the flowers, you must continue to tend it. If you quit mowing, edging, trimming, watering, and planting, it’ll fade and deteriorate until it ceases to exist.
- Henry Ford exclaims: “IT HAS BEEN MY OBSERVATION THAT MOST PEOPLE GET AHEAD DURING THE TIME THAT OTHERS WASTE.” So, you know where you can make efforts to get ahead of others.
The fear of failure comes from the judgement of society, successful entrepreneurs give up caring about judgement and keep failing and improving themselves to build their dream enterprises. Like we said earlier, Success is a garden, you gotta keep watering it!