Why business is like ... Jenson Button

He'd previously won just one race in ten seasons. Now British driver Button is world champion.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

In October, British Formula 1 driver Jenson Button was crowned the 2009 World Champion, making his 10th Grand Prix season his best yet - not bad in a sport where entire careers have been shorter than that.

But his achievement is all the more remarkable because, before this season began, Button had just one race win to his name, despite having started in 136 Grands Prix. As management consultant Stuart Cross points out: 'Until this season, Button's career had been one of unfulfilled promise and - let's face it - failure.' What Button illustrates, he says, is the power of persistence and dogged determination.

In business, significant success can be just as long in the making, as even the biggest names have discovered. Bill Gates' first business, Traf-O-Data, which made traffic-flow counters, was a flop. Walt Disney had folded two animation firms before founding The Walt Disney Co, and Milton Hershey had a string of failed businesses to his name before eventually finding success with the Hershey Chocolate Company.

In business, as in F1, talent or good ideas are not enough. You have to work harder than anyone else, too. As inventor Thomas Edison famously put it: 'Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.' Above all, don't stop trying: as Button's story demonstrates, it's never too late to succeed.

- Jennifer Harris is director of JRBH Strategy & Management, www.jrbh.co.uk

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