Learning from Henry Ford

Sometimes clients ask for things that we know are wrong or not suitable. Or they can’t see the bigger picture and miss the potential benefit of something. And one of the best sources of wisdom about delivering what your customers wants is the great Herny Ford. Here are five Henry Ford quotes and what freelancers can learn from them.

1. If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

This one is often used as justification for NOT listening to clients and deciding what’s best for them without consultation. This wasn’t really what Ford meant.

Henry Ford keenly understood his customers. He may not have run focus groups and engaged market research consultants but he paid attention to them.

Freelancers need to do the same.Look at the market, listen to all your clients and help guide them to what they need – particularly when what they need isn’t what they want.

2. Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.

Never show up for a meeting or make a client call without being ready. Enough said.

3. Competition is the keen cutting edge of business, always shaving away at costs.

The other day guest poster David Hague argued that cost containment is crucial for freelancers. Freelancers of all persuasions are under increasing competition. So, as the number of freelancers increases, the pool of potential work has to be spread wider. So, one way to ensure that we don’t run out of money when times are tight is to not overspend when times are good.

4. If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.

When your client is frustrated with you (and it will happen one day) a good thing to do is listen to yourself. And then imagine what it would be like to be your own client.

Are you speaking clearly? Are you using technical jargon when it’s not needed? Do you sound grumpy or short?

5. You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.

Steve Jobs once said that “real artists ship”. In other words, your reputation will be built on results, not plans. Deliver what your clients want on time EVERY time. If you’re not sure how long a job will take, allow extra time.

Always under-promise and over-deliver – but keep it reasonable.

Who are your business role models? What are your favourite business quotes?


2 thoughts on “Learning from Henry Ford”

  1. And being such a rabid anti-Semite that Hitler proudly displays your photo on his desk AND mentions you in Mein Kampf lends you a certain meeting-room presence 🙂

    Perhaps it’s not worth following EXACTLY in Ford’s footsteps…

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