Against The Odds – James Dyson

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Against the Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson is a story about perseverance.

Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

Against the Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson is a story about perseverance. A story about the time required to do great work. Every entrepreneur should read it. James shares the real story about building his company.

There is no glamour in the book. There is no fake rah-rah entrepreneurial guru motivational nonsense. Just dogged persistence and the stubbornness of a mule. James believed in his creation. He knew it was the better product. But, so what? A lot of people have had similar thoughts. That is not the lesson James is teaching.

The lesson James teaches is that you must be willing to proceed until everyone else knows it too. He writes honestly about the time required and the perseverance it took. He goes into painstaking detail about the struggles he had to endure in order to build his company:

It must have been sometime in 1979 that I first heard the words, ‘But, James if there were a better kind of vacuum cleaner, Hoover would have invented it.’ For twelve years I labored under heavier and heavier debt. I tried and failed to interest the major manufacturing companies in my product. I fought terrible legal battles on both sides of the Atlantic to protect my vacuum cleaner.

And in 1992, in the cold, wet English countryside, I went into production, on my own, as the sole owner of the machine I had conceived, designed, built and tested alone. After hundreds of prototypes, thousands of modifications and millions of tests, I was in terrible debt, but in love with the Cyclone. By 2002 my company was selling a million vacuum cleaners a year in 24 countries and my products had achieved total sales of more than $10 billion.

Great things take time. Superb, reliable results take time. The little improvements that lead to impressive achievements come not from a week’s work or a month’s practice, but from a series of months and years.

James Dyson’s book is a reminder that every entrepreneur believes it will be easier than it is. They all believe it will take less time than it does. That is why so many quit.

The “Aha! Moment” that Steve Jobs, James Dyson, and Bill Walsh all discovered is that every entrepreneur is going to run into problems. Obstacles will appear. This is inevitable.

Most people quit. Don’t be like most people.

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