Author Thaddeus Wawro shared biographies of over 150 entrepreneurs whose inventions, ideas and services greatly impacted the 20th century. I was really impressed with the ingenuity and negotiating skills of these people. Before I go into more detail, allow me to share my lessons learned.
1. Most entrepreneurs are not born rich.
2. Many early century entrepreneurs made products and services available to the masses that were only available to the rich.
3. Many computer people do not have college degrees. In fact, quite a few of them dropped out by the end of their second year.
4. They got really creative during The Great Depression and WWI when funds and resources were scarce. Most times they profited by selling their products and services to the military and government agencies.
5. They did not stop when they failed. Their persistence paid off. Literally and figuratively.
6. They expanded beyond their city limits to created branches and franchises.
7. Customer service was the foundation of many enterprises. (I wish many companies would adopt these policies and practices.
8. Many businesses started by accident.
9. They stayed true to their core business even though they ventured into other unrelated industries.
10. If their products and services were not successful in their countries, they usually found success in other countries. Or, they went to other countries because that’s where the opportunities were.
11. After their businesses became successful in spaces they were renting and leasing, they purchased their own property.
12. Many believed in philanthropy. If fact, some businesses were built on this concept.
13. They worked their strengths and hired their weaknesses.
14. Many held the belief that “If you own it, you control it.” Therefore, they purchased their own equipment for production and hired employees to work it.
15. Some business people stole the ideas of others and prospered. Side note: This is why it is so important for you to protect your intellectual property by any means necessary.
16. Some of their targeted customers were so defined that they couldn’t help but prosper.
Of course, there were many more lessons, but these are the few that stood out the most for me. This is highly recommended read especially if you want to know how early entrepreneurs worked their ventures and kept them going for decades. Another factor to note: many of these businesses have been going strong for years, and many businesses today fail to make it to the five-year mark. Purchase your copy of Radicals & Visionaries: Entrepreneurs Who Revolutionized the 20th Century today!