Situations can change in an instant. One moment you’re moving right along on one path, thinking all is right with the world when suddenly, the carpet is pulled out from under you. Technology shifts, something becomes obsolete, you find yourself embroiled in a worldwide pandemic. Suddenly, what you’ve been doing for years no longer works. What do you do?
For Soichiro Honda, the answer was to shift and adapt. Like Honda, you need to find the next best solution, regardless of how crazy or off the wall it seems at the time.
Honda started out back in 1939 with the idea of creating a piston ring for Toyota. His prototype flopped almost immediately. Undaunted, he threw himself into the project determined to bring his idea to fruition. He succeeded! His invention enabled him to gain the contract he desired. Suddenly, a major problem erupted on the horizon – one entirely beyond his control: WWII.
With a shortage of material with which to build a factory, Honda might have given up. Instead, he created a new kind of concrete he could use in place of more traditional materials. However, problems continued to abound. His new factory was bombed twice, and when he was finally ready to go into production, there wasn’t any steel.
There was, on the other hand, plenty of empty gasoline cans to be found, discarded by the American fighters.
Taking advantage of what was on hand, he used what was readily available to him. It seemed fate was finally smiling down on him. But fate can be just as cruel as she is generous. An earthquake completely destroyed Honda’s factory. After this many severe setbacks, a lot of people would have taken them as a sign to get out of business altogether. Not Soichiro. He chose to persevere.
In the meantime, with resources slim – especially fuel for vehicles – Honda set out to solve his own problem. What he found was a solution for everyone else as well. He motorized a bicycle with a tiny engine so he could get to work. This engine was something his neighbors admired greatly and wanted for their own. Seeing an opportunity to make a success in a direction he had never considered previously, Honda set out to mass-produce a small engine that could serve the needs of the community. This engine went on to become the foundation of his company.
His real success came during the 1970s American fuel crisis. With a demand for cars that used less fuel to travel more miles, Honda leveraged his knowledge to build fuel-efficient vehicles, making him a leader worldwide in engine technology.
Soichiro Honda accomplished a great deal in his lifetime. Being willing to adapt to circumstances and looking for the opportunities in the midst of crisis rather than becoming caught up in his setbacks, he created a product which launched his success.
Entrepreneurs who seek success should learn from his example. No matter what life may throw at us, no matter what setbacks we may experience, we must avoid giving up and giving in. Instead, finding the opportunities that exist within all predicaments, we must choose to move on.