At school, James Dyson was a successful long-distance runner. Not, he’s said, because he was physically good at it, but because he had more determination. That determination stayed with him.
As an industrial design engineer, he fitted a wheelbarrow with a ball to make it more manoeuvrable. He applied the same principle to a boat-launching trolley, then to a boat that could travel on land and water. These ideas helped his business survive. His transformation of the vacuum cleaner made it thrive.
This is where his determination paid off. He made 5,126 prototypes and learned from 5,126 failures. Prototype 5,127 became the Dyson Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner.
When major manufacturers rejected the idea, Dyson set up his own manufacturing company and changed the vacuum cleaner market for ever.
Eventually his thinking came full circle, with a vacuum cleaner incorporating a ball instead of wheels: the highly manoeuvrable Dyson Ball vacuum.
The Dyson Dual Cyclone became the fastest-selling vacuum cleaner ever made in the UK. The Dyson company – which has expanded into hand dryers, hair dryers, and fans – continues to thrive.