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The importance of persistence

Monday, 19 December 2011 | By Ruslan Kogan
As you head into the holiday season, you will hopefully have some time to reflect on your year in business, and the year ahead.


When planning for success in 2012, don't forget one important factor for success: persistence.

It is important for entrepreneurs to not get discouraged if an idea fails or if a venture doesn't go ahead.


It may take hundreds of great ideas before you have one that works. Turning ideas into businesses usually involves convincing others that your idea is great.


This isn’t easy. Very few people will be able to see your vision. Henry Ford said: “If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’."

In May 2006 I approached McDonald's Australia and suggested that they need to replace all of their menu boards with digital LCD screens.


I explained how this would have huge advantages and cost savings.


It would allow head office to control all advertising with ease, they could roll out nationwide campaigns with the click of a button, they could have animations in their advertising, they could implement menu changes with ease, they would no longer have to print advertising boards.


Just the savings from not having to do huge print runs each time a new menu item was created justified the entire project.


I offered to run the nationwide project for McDonald's at cost price – I did not care for the profit, just seeing the concept succeed was enough for me. McDonald’s knocked me back.


They did not share my vision. Now I've noticed many McDonald's have actually started doing this, and are finally transitioning many of their stores to digital screens (five years later).

In August 2006 I approached every major car rental company (Avis, Budget, Thrifty, et al) in Australia and offered them Kogan GPS devices at the best price available anywhere in the world.


I explained that they should have these as an optional extra with every car they rent.



I explained that they will make back the cost of each GPS device within a month and then everything from that point forward will be pure profit for them.



I explained that it would also mean they would be providing a higher level of service to their customers than any of their competitors were at the time.


Not a single one was interested in my proposal. A few of them accepted my offer of a free trial device and then I never heard from them again.


Five years later, it's impossible to rent a car without being offered a GPS upgrade.

In January 2009 I was in discussions with Roger Federer about hosting the first ever live sports match on YouTube.


I had devised a plan to host a best of three-match series between himself and Rafael Nadal, when both men were at their absolute peak.


I had the privilege of seeing them battle it out on many courts around the world, and wanted to bring this phenomenal experience to billions around the world.


I offered US$20 million prize money to the winner of the series, with nothing going to the loser. The event would have been broadcast only on YouTube, live, to every corner of the globe.


It would have been a landmark moment in the history of the internet, and the advertising revenue from online ads would have made it financially feasible.


Unfortunately our talks fell through.


Last month, YouTube announced the launch of "Channels" and dedicated premium content, which is the precursor to the sort of high quality live content I envisaged in 2009.

These three ideas did not eventuate. However, I didn't become disheartened.


Many businesspeople fall into the trap of losing faith in their own innovations because others don't share their vision.


This used to get me down. I would then go to YouTube and type: “Apple Think Different” and that would cause me to get over it pretty quickly.

Thankfully, I’m now in a position where I don't need approval from others to turn my ideas into reality.


We can rapidly create almost anything we imagine at Kogan. Whether or not you have a team that can assist in turning your dreams into reality, make sure you stay persistent.

Ruslan Kogan is founder of online tech retailer Kogan . You can join in the discussion with Ruslan on Twitter: @ruslankogan