Mélanie Larouche | Journalist
If there's one thing Nicolas Duvernois has plenty of it's determination. When the young Franco-Québécois political science graduate, with roots in Bourgogne and Saguenay, began developing his own product, all he knew about vodka was that it was extremely versatile and had great social virtues. Today, PUR Vodka is garnering top honours around the world and its creator, the recognition he deserves for being a smart and astute businessman.
The young businessman always knew deep down he wasn't cut out to be a hired hand. He felt trapped in that role, like a lion in a cage, because he had the ideas and drive of an entrepreneur. In his early thirties, he went into the restaurant business and failed miserably. From that "disastrous experience", however, he learned some valuable business lessons that got him back on his feet stronger than ever before and better equipped to launch himself back into business and...adventure!
When asked to find the key words that sum up the secret of his success best, he didn't hesitate. Here's what he had to say:
"To go into business, you need a good idea. It doesn't matter where it comes from-your talents, your skills or your creativity-you've got to firmly believe that it's good and has great potential! There will always be people who'll tell you it's crazy and you'll never make it. There are plenty of those around. You need to stay focused on your goal and believe in it. It's the strength and power of your idea that's going to drive your efforts and build your confidence."
"It's not because you like to eat in restaurants that you're going to be a great restaurateur! I learned that the hard way. When I got the idea of launching my own vodka, I knew absolutely nothing about it. But I researched it to the point where I knew practically all there was to know about vodka. Business is like sports, you've got to train hard before you can run in a marathon. You've got to be willing to put in the time. It isn't a sprint, and you can't skip any steps. It took me three years to do the groundwork, but I built my business on solid foundations that will enable me to turn it into a multinational, if that's what I want."
"People like listening to stories. Looking for great stories is a lifelong pursuit. Parents tell them to their kids and the older ones get them from a variety of sources like TV, the Internet and other areas of life. Never underestimate the power of the story behind your business. Each one is unique and worth telling. People will be inspired by your story. It might even have an impact on what they choose to do, if they've been moved by your story or are interested in it. Behind every successful business, there's a really good story.
"No is the most dangerous word in the dictionary! It can discourage you and make you give up. It can close doors and kill your dreams. You need to figure out how to manage it properly. Don't take it as the end of your project, but as a test that's going strengthen your resolve."
In business, there are plenty of clichés! But many of them have something worthwhile to say. Take them seriously, learn the lessons that created them. Here's one I really like: It's not how many times you fall that matters but how many times you get back up that counts.