Jonathan Vowles Chartered Accountants

01234 752 566


In 1492, Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue

And what a business start-up to get involved in ...


Now, to be fair to his equity backers, the Castilian royal family, they took an awful lot of risk and well done to them! Also, Christopher Columbus was clearly a fantastic entrepreneur and salesman as he carried his backers with him in his vision to reach Japan ...

Columbus was great at planning. He took the Santa Maria, Nia and Pinta with him just to be sure!

Columbus was great at planning. He took the Santa Maria, Nia and Pinta with him just to be sure!

copyright: miro3d / 123rf stock photo

What did he say to make them go for his idea of ignoring conventional wisdom and sailing in the wrong direction on purpose? I bet that they were a bit surprised when he came back and said he had failed to find a route to Japan and instead said he had found America and the West Indies!

"Mind you, he was actually convinced he had found the other side of Asia!"

Now there is some evidence to say that Leif Ericson and the Vikings found America, not Columbus. But the reason we celebrate Columbus not Ericson is in part because Columbus was the one who made money out of it and was, therefore, successful in the eyes of his backers.

Of course, if you are a native American from either the northern or southern continent, then you might be a bit narked at being 'discovered' and then exploited! But let's move on from that to ask what relevance does Columbus have for a modern entrepreneur?

Well, Columbus would probably feel right at home in the 21st Century business world. Think about it. Firstly, he captured the economic trend of the time, The Spice Trade, and joined in quite enthusiastically.

Secondly, he was a disruptor. Everyone else was sailing towards Japan and East Asia the standard way, round Africa! The established trading businesses were very protective of their monopoly ... and, in those days, cut-throat competition meant just that!

In the eyes of his competitors, Columbus went the wrong way - in the opposite direction - literally into the unknown. He had the courage of his convictions. It is a testament to Columbus's vision that he stuck to it and ended up making four voyages to exploit the West Indies and the Americas.

Similarly, if you have a vision for your business, then you need to stick to it through the good and the bad! Columbus planned and provided for a whole range of eventualities, and had lots of misfortune on his travels and came through them all.

"Vision, Planning and Tenacity. Three things that every entrepreneur needs!"

This applies not only to start-ups but also to existing businesses. When you are up against it, you need to be visionary, tenacious and to make sure you are always planning and thinking ahead.

Until next time ...


More about Jonathan Vowles ...

I've been an accountant in and for business since 1987 and have a wide experience of consultancy, audit, accounts, taxation and wealth planning work from individuals and small businesses to multinational corporations and charities.

My eclectic interests in growing and developing business span a number of areas, which can be summarised as strategic business advice and tax saving advice.

I have worked with the Chamber of Commerce to deliver courses for people about starting up in business and have lectured about tax for a major accountancy practice and for Milton Keynes College.

I relax by reading fiction and by getting away from the office in a campervan.


01234 752 566