People Who Succeed Pay Their Dues First

They build their “hard skills” for years before succeeding

Darius Foroux
4 min readDec 9, 2022

In the early 1940s, a boy from southern Sweden discovered he could buy boxes of matches in bulk from Stockholm, then sell them individually for cheap in his small town for a nice profit.

The boy continued doing this for some time, riding his bicycle around town, and selling matches. When the matches continued to sell well, he reinvested his earnings by buying various other items. He expanded his inventory and sold:

  • Christmas ornaments
  • Pencils and ballpoint pens
  • Fish
  • Seeds
  • And so forth

After a few years, he was earning enough to buy and sell furniture. When the boy, named Ingvar Kamprad, turned seventeen, he decided to call his business IKEA.

For the Financial Year 2022, the Inter IKEA Group posted total retail sales of EUR 44.6 billion, with a 6.5% increase from the previous year, despite the ongoing high inflation. And just last year, IKEA opened its largest store to date, in the Philippines, spanning 730,000 square feet.

All these started with a box of matches sold on a bicycle in a little Swedish town. What’s the point of this story?

Sure, small beginnings can grow large over time. But the more important idea is this:

Kamprad wasn’t too focused on marketing tactics, hacks, and all other distractions that plague new entrepreneurs of today.

Instead, he started on a tiny product (his retail box of matches) and expanded based on his buyers’ actual demand and needs.

Kamprad didn’t start with a massive plan of selling furniture and appliances all over the world. He simply sold what he could access. And grew his operation from there.

That’s something many new entrepreneurs don’t seem to do today. They’re too focused on finding the quickest route to major success. And that leads nowhere.

Elon Musk puts this idea really well:

“The path to the CEO’s office should not be through the CFO’s office, and it should not be…

Darius Foroux

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