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Soichiro Honda – The Founder Of Honda Motors

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Soichiro Honda, a man who came from abject poverty and no financial support, proved to the rest of the world that it truly takes a dream to realise your passion. Without the means and through sheer hard work, Soichiro built his dream company from scratch and with a focus on the future. From building a cycle in a garage, to creating one of the largest automobile stores in the world, Soichiro Honda’s story is one of inspiration, dreams and success stories!

The Beginning

Belonging to a very small village in Japan called Komya, Soichiro had a very difficult childhood. The twentieth century had just started and the first car the world was exposed to was the Ford cars. In fact, even Soichiro’s love for cars first started when he saw a majestic Ford car on the tiny streets of his hometown. A young Soichiro had difficulty understanding how such a powerful car could drive down the road without anything propelling it forward. So fascinated was he by the car’s super powers, he chased it down to the end of the road to take a closer look at what would be his inspiration for the first ever Honda car.

At the age of 15 (in 1922,) Soichiro’s love for automobiles grew so much, he left home to apprentice at Art Shokai, an automobile repair shop in Tokyo. Dedicated and filled with a passion like never before, the 15 year old Soichiro put his heart and soul into learning everything about the world of cars. At Art Shokai, the young man learnt everything he could. From gaining technical experience about the product, to gaining an in depth experience about the inner workings of a car, this apprenticeship gave Soichiro the wings he needed to fly.

It took Soichiro six years to finish his training and by the year 1928, the young Honda had so much knowledge, he could put even the most trained engineers to shame! Opening a new branch of Art Shoika, Soichiro started working on building everything from two wheelers to trucks. Unfortunately, Soichiro’s investors were not as impressed with the young entrepreneur’s growth chart and refused to back him up when the business started booming. The time had now come for Soichiro to think of a new place to let his expertise and experience shine.

Picture credits: bikebandit.com

The birth of the Honda company

Undeterred, Soichiro started a brand new company called Tokai Seiki Heavy Industry in the year 1936. Despite being told by the lenders that they wouldn’t back him, the young Honda still worked at the Art Shoika Company. The initial days of Tokai Seiki were quite hectic. After putting a full day’s work in Art Shokai, Soichiro would work at making piston rings at night. However, like any other major venture, the first order taken by Soichiro was rejected almost immediately, pushing him back to the beginning of it all.

Since the very first days of the Honda company, everything Soichiro did was during the most arduous conditions. During the Second World War, when the Ministry of Munitions took control of Tokai Seiki, Soichiro pushed forward instead of buckling down under the pressure. Developing a technique for mass producing wooden airplanes, Soichiro reinvented the way Japanese aircrafts flew and functioned. This new invention was the first step toward the creation of what Honda is today and after the War, Soichiro opened the Honda Technical Research Institute. Realising the scarcity of gas at the time, the Honda Technical Research Institute built the first ever gas propelled cycle.

By the year 1949, Honda Motor Company Limited was established as the biggest bicycle creator and was starting to break new ground in this area. The first ever mass produced motorised bike, the Dream D (painted in maroon) was an instant hit the moment it hit the streets and this paved the way for the creation of the Honda C 100! So famous was the Honda C 100, it became the most popular motorcycle ever made by Honda in the beginning years! From then, there was absolutely no stopping Honda and with every new motorcycle made, the Company started growing with increasing speed and precision.

Picture credits: alamy.com

Over the years, Honda mastered the art of making motorcycles and by 1963, the Company was all set to expand into the world of cars. The first fleet of cars introduced by Honda were very similar to the bikes made during Second World War, with strong influences drawn from Honda’s initial days. By 1973, Honda’s expertise grew so quickly, it started expanding and was all set to sell cars to the United States. The first ever car it sold in the United States was the Honda Civic and since then, there was absolutely no turning back for this superstar! In fact, the Honda Civic was such a hit, it won awards for being the best car during the year it released.

The following years saw Honda grow to not just be an automobile industry but also a beacon of change for the way people all over the world rode their bikes and cars. It was through sheer hard work, determination and understanding of how the automobile industry worked, Soichiro Honda was a man who realised his dream and made it come true despite all adversities. 

An inspirational success and a story which needed to be told, Honda’s journey is a true guidance of hope and light. If you think you have an equally inspiring story to share about Soichiro Honda, comment and let us know!

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Ratan Tata Unknown Facts

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Chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, Ratan Tata is arguably one of the most successful people of India.  During his 21 year career, he transformed Tata Group from a national brand to an international brand with his impeccable business skills.

Here is a list of some lesser known facts about the 81 year old industrialist:

1) Though he was born in an affluent household, Ratan Tata had a troubled childhood. His parents, Naval Hormusji Tata and Sooni Tata, separated when he was just 7 years old.  Post the separation, his brother and he were raised by their grandmother.

2)  Ratan Tata has a degree in architecture from Cornell University and he even pursued an advanced management program from Harvard Business School.

 

3) When Ratan Tata first started his career at Tata Steel, his job was to manage the blast furnace and shovel limestone.  It was only in 1991 he became the Chairperson.

 

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4) Ratan Tata is an avid car lover and does not refrain himself from spending on cars.  His car collection includes Maserati Quattroporte, Chrysler Sebring, Ferrari California, Mercedes Benz S-Class and Jaguar F-Type.

 

5) Not many people know Ratan Tata is a trained pilot.  He owns a pilot’s license and is often seen flying aircrafts owned by the Tata Group.  He was also the first Indian to fly the F-16 Falcon in 2007.

6) In 1999, Ratan Tata and his team went to Ford to sell their emerging car business and were humiliated by Bill Ford who said, “You do not know anything, why did you start the passenger car division at all.”  Nine years later, Ratan Tata got his sweet revenge when he took over Ford’s ace car brands, Jaguar and Land Rover, for half the price.

 

7) Ratan Tata received the third and second highest civilian awards, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan in 2000 and 2008 respectively.  In 2009, the United Kingdom honoured him with the Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

8) Ratan Tata is not included in the world’s richest as he owns most of his shares through trusts and foundations.  If all those shares are accounted, his net worth would be $ 72 billion.

 

9) By his own admission, Ratan Tata came close to marriage 4 times in his life, but backed off each time either due to fear or another reason.

10) Ratan Tata donates millions to education every year.  One particular year, he donated $ 50 million to Harvard University and $25 million to Cornell University, especially for the Indian students studying at the two universities.

 

Fighting all the hurdles that came his way, today Ratan Tata is the king of the corporate world.  Thank you, Mr. Tata, for being an inspiration to an entire Nation.

 

Comment below and let us know which of these facts surprised you the most.

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5 Essential Skills Required To Be A Successful Entrepreneur

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All the high net worth individuals in the world are where they are because they developed a certain skill set, which in turn helped them to reach their goals.  Mere knowledge of your niche area won’t help you become a successful entrepreneur. While you need patience to run a business, you also need to focus on developing some critical skills which not only help you run your business but also can help you solve any problems that might arise in your entrepreneurial journey.

Here is a list of 5 skills you should start developing if you aspire to become a successful entrepreneur.

 

1) Creativity

As an entrepreneur, you will face new problems every day and for entrepreneurs, creativity isn’t just about coming up with new ideas, it is about being able to adapt to new situations quickly and finding solutions for problems as and when they arise. You will also have to constantly improve and upgrade your products and services to stay alive in the market. Therefore, creativity is the most essential skill an entrepreneur should possess.  

The brand Apple is synonymous with creativity, thanks to the genius Steve Jobs. When the iPhone initially launched, critics came up with a 100 reasons as to why it would fail and it almost did. With his creativity, Steve Jobs kept upgrading the product and today, it is the best selling smartphone in the world.  Steve Jobs’ creativity was the driving force behind Apple’s product design and marketing.

 

2) Communication

Every entrepreneur needs to be an effective communicator. It is essential for entrepreneurs to be able to communicate with employees, customers, investors, peers and mentors. One simply cannot manage a great team or  provide a great customer service if one is not an effective communicator. Irrespective of whether a person runs a startup or a Fortune 500 company, communication is the key skill that he must develop.

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson who himself is a student of communication, calls it “an art”.

 

3) Salesmanship

As an entrepreneur you should be able to sell sand in the desert.

Salesmanship is one such skill without which, it is nearly impossible to succeed as an entrepreneur. The soft skill of sales goes hand- in -hand with communication and is key to run a successful business.  An entrepreneur should be able to sell the business idea to investors, their products and services to customers.

Salesmanship plays a key role in building trust between the company and the customer.

Mark Cuban, an American businessman, investor and the owner of National Basketball Association often emphasises that salesmanship is the skill that made him millions. When asked what he would do if he lost it all, he replied saying that he would pick up a sales job and was pretty sure that this could make him a multi-millionaire again.

 

4) Money Management

If you cannot manage money, you cannot manage a business. Period!

Financial management is the most important responsibility of an entrepreneur, especially in the startup stage. Knowing your cash flow can make planning and budgeting for financial needs easier. This is a key skill to develop if you are aiming to be a successful entrepreneur.

Elon Musk, the 46 year old CEO of SpaceX and Tesla often states that he does not spend his $ 20 billion fortune on lavish vacations or expensive hobbies. Instead, he invests his profits back into his business for its development.

 

5)  Ability to find and manage people

Having great people on your team will make life much easier for you. It gives you access to new strengths while building a company culture of which people would want to be a part.  Hiring the right people is key to building a successful company. Along with hiring the right people, an entrepreneur should be able to manage them efficiently. He should be able to assign the right kind of tasks to people considering their strengths and weaknesses.

The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos follows a three question method of hiring people for his company.  

  1. Will you admire this person?
  2. Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?
  3. Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?

Only when he is satisfied with these answers, will that person work for him.

Being an entrepreneur is a complicated task and your success as an entrepreneur is the result of the small actions taken over a period of time.

If you notice you are lacking a skill or two, focus on nurturing those skills today so you might be able to enjoy success tomorrow.

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Reasons Why Businesses Fail

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According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 business fail within the first 18 months of their inception and the sad reality is, almost all the businesses fail because of the entrepreneurs who handle it.  While there are a multitude of conditions which could lead to a business failure, most startups which fail, make similar mistakes.  Here is a list of the top 5 reasons why businesses fail.

 

1) Starting a business for the wrong reasons

Most people start a business with a desire to earn a lot of money.  While this is a benefit successful entrepreneurs achieve after years of hard work, starting a business for money is not the right entrepreneurial mindset.  The driving force for your business should be your passion, not your desire for money. Entrepreneurship requires a lot of dedication, hard work and patience and if you lack passion, you will most likely lose interest in a few years and eventually end up failing.

 

2) Lack of proper planning

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Planning is an important part of running a business.  If you do not work according to a proper plan, your business is most likely to fail.  A good plan consists of definite short term and long term goals and will also define where your company will be in the next few years.  Lack of such proper planning will cause irreparable damage to your business.

 

3) Lack of funds

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The most common reason why startups fail is the lack of proper funds.  Budding business owners often do not understand money management and are likely to underestimate the amount of money they require to start a business and might even have unrealistic expectations about profits. As a result, the money spent on the business becomes more than the money earned by the business.  This leads to debt and when this debt becomes too much, they are forced to shut it down.

 

4) Lack of value

The heart of any business is the value it creates. The higher your value, the more will be your customer base and the more you will earn.  Your product or service should be more valuable than your competitors’. In other words, your business should be able to offer something new.  If your business lacks value, it is bound to fail.

 

5)  Early expansions

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It is rightly said that slow and steady wins the race.  New entrepreneurs are often in a hurry to expand their business to other markets and this is the leading cause for bankruptcy.  Expanding a business is good, but before you enter new markets, make sure you maximise your existing market. If not, you will most likely be forced to close your business due to bankruptcy.

 

As they say, failures are stepping stones to success and as a business owner, the success of a business mostly lies in your hand. If you ever failed trying to run a business, learn from your mistakes and start over again. Most of the billionaires today are people who once failed.

 

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