Lessons from Great Entrepreneurs: Henry Ford

Lessons from Great Entrepreneurs: Henry Ford


Many entrepreneurs have made a difference in the lives of American citizens. Great minds and men and women have helped shape this country into a world power that stands as a beacon for liberty, freedom, and enterprise. Henry Ford, while fraught with his own bias and problems, was one such individual. With discernment, we can learn from the good that he did and find inspiration in his ability to produce value for himself and those around him. The Ford brand remains quintessentially American and is of indisputable historic value.  The following quotes illustrate some of Ford’s practical wisdom that we would be wise to emulate both in business and in our daily lives.

1. “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me”. Henry Ford

This is a true saying and a wise way of looking at things. Ford knew that the people we surround ourselves with can make or break our ambitions and dreams. The best people to have as friends are people who understand what you want to achieve with your life, and are respectful and supportive. Your closest friends should bring out the best in you. This is a very hard thing to find at any age, but especially for college students and recent graduates. Find the people who inspire you and push you to become the best you can be. By surrounding yourself with people who encourage you and push you to be more than you were, you will grow with them. It’s very easy to have friends who make you feel complacent or lazy, don’t settle for that. Find people who bring out the best in you and stick with them.

2. Quality means doing it right when no one is looking. Henry Ford

The work that we do regardless of who sees or knows, is a reflection of our personal values. It should be our goal that we build value for ourselves and others through all of our actions. Take pride in your work, not just in the way people see it. By actually being proud that your life, or your “product” is high quality, you will help maintain it at that level. It can be very easy to cut corners when eyes aren’t on you, don’t fall for it.

3. If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right. Henry Ford

Part of getting things done is believing it's possible.  Whether it’s innovating a new product or asking someone out, you must have faith and confidence in your ability to succeed. If you believe from the start that you are doomed to fail, then you will. This is not to encourage stupid or blind optimism, but you must not allow doubt to stop your work. Believe that you can accomplish what you set out to do, and work toward it. Even if you fail you will have failed honorably and can begin again.

4. Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success. Henry Ford

Being ready is essential to being successful. You can’t hope to win in any endeavor if you have not put in the work beforehand. This is applicable to any field in life. Proper preparation is the foundation for everything. Ford knew that by being ready, you will avoid most of the minor problems that can quickly become major problems in life. Make sure that you have everything in order before you embark on any venture. This is one of the best safeguards against failure. It worked for Ford, and it will work for you.

5. You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do. Henry Ford

What you say you will do means nothing. It is what you do that establishes your reputation and word. Your word is the most fundamental aspect of all agreements in your life. By doing instead of talking about it, you establish yourself as someone reliable, respectable, and effective. Everyone has an idea or plan; few people implement them. Your reputation will come from the success of your efforts and from learning from your failures. If you don’t act, you will never be able to build anything. Don’t be afraid to go out and do something. Your reputation rests on what you do, and what you have done. What you plan to do counts for little until you have a track record to show.

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