Soichiro Honda: The Self-made Entrepreneur

Success represents the 1% of your work which results from the 99% that is called faiure. Soichiro Honda

Soichiro Honda never believed in traditional education. Helping his father in his bicycle repair business was his favorite activity in his school days. His disregard to his lessons often resulted in poor grades. Those days in Honda’s school, the report card of the students had to be stamped with the family seal.

What’s wrong with a little cheating?

To save his parents from disappointment by showing bad grades, Honda once crafted his own version of the family seal using the parts of an old bicycle pedal. As soon as the other children heard of Honda’s brilliant idea, they started approaching him for fake seals of their family names. Honda was more than happy to oblige to these requests.

However, while making these fake seals the little innovator missed out on a crucial point. His stamps were not mirror imaged. Since his family name, , was symmetrical when written vertically, he never realized the mistake. But forgery became evident in the case of the family names that were not symmetrical. The culprit was soon identified and Honda’s father was notified about his misadventure.

His father left him standing on his knees for a whole day, not for the miniature fraud that little Honda had cooked up, but for the fact that he didn’t make the seal mirror imaged.

The urge to do more.

After eight years of schooling, Honda decided that he had enough of formal education and started working in an auto repair shop in Tokyo. After literally living in the workshops for years and familiarizing himself with the designs of all sorts of vehicles, he became one of the most sought after automobile mechanic in the locality.

Honda had bigger visions for himself though. He decided to develop piston rings, which he believed would revolutionize automobile designs. But even after spending almost all of his savings and burning midnight oil for days, his research bore no fruits.

He had to finally accept his incompetence in the task and realized the importance of education. To acquire the necessary knowledge to accomplish his mission, he enrolled as a part-time student at Hamamatsu Industrial Institute. However, he refused to take any examination. To him only learning mattered, not the diploma certificate.

After about two years of hard work, Honda finally succeeded in creating the model of a piston ring. However, out of the 300,000 piston rings that he had produced and sent for examination, only 50 were accepted for consideration by the Toyota Company. Amongst those 50, only three passed the quality control test.

By this time Honda was close to bankruptcy and was recovering from a terrible accident. Where any other person would have called it quits, Honda remained adamant about continuing his attempts.

Further research, hard work and undamped spirit finally brought success to his heels. Honda Motor Co., Ltd, the company he had established went on to became the world’s biggest automobile manufacturing company!

Action Summary:

  • Success is never a coincidence. It can be achieved only by diligent hard work.

  • Failures are necessary elements to succeed in life. Only if one realizes the importance of learning from their failures would they discover the path to success

~ Gitanjali Banerjee