A Tale of Two Quitters

The measure of success for any entrepreneur is perhaps persistence. To venture forth with new ideas and, despite the obstacles, stay focused on reaching your objective. To weather the storms that many may claim as failure, to get back up when you are knocked down, and try a new direction to achieve your aims.

Here is a short story about two such "failures" - two "Quitters, according to currently invoked logic.

Two childhood friends partner to start a business together after terms in the military. Their first enterprise is to start a local aviation service they named "Wolverine Air Service". Neither were experienced pilots, had no particular business experience, no airport, but they pressed on despite the obstacle. After a year, they looked for another business opportunity.


They immediately sought a new enterprise in pursuit of success. The next venture, a restaurant in their town. They called it "Riverside Drive-Inn Restaurant". Once again, as with the air service, neither of the guys had experience in running a restaurant. They continued to explore other options.


Here is a list of some of the other businesses these two friends started together -

Canoe rides
Flight school
Charter Service
Repair Service
Aircraft and Gasoline Sales
Boat Rental and Charter

They had also tried there hand at toy-making by marketing a wooden rocking horse for children.

Eight different business interests but none of these would be the enterprise that would bring them the success they had dreamed about for so long. EIGHT failures by prevalent standards? These guys were eight time losers if you were to buy into the critics pronouncements.

These gentleman would later start one of the largest and one of the oldest direct marketing companies in the world. They would eventually play a very significant role to the growth and expansion of their hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

You have probably guessed the names of these persistent entrepreneurs.

Richard DeVos and Jay VanAndel

Imagine. The gentleman who founded Amway and Quixtar being labeled as "Quitters". Here is a quote from the autobiography of Jay VanAndel:
"A good entrepreneur never rests, so we were always trying to think of something else that we could provide the customers ..."
An Enterprising Life
Jay VanAndel

I heard a saying recently that offers -
"every blade of grass that I have ever walked upon has brought me to this moment"

It is a good thing that Rich and Jay were quitters in their earlier businesses.


Blogger Kim Klaver said...

Another way to look at this as that they were good at starting again. If something doesn't work AND you don't enjoy it anyway, you should indeed try something else. There are many options, as they showed.

Babe Ruth was the home run king. But he also struck out most. He also took the most swings.

April 22, 2006  

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