Discovering New Worlds – Learning from Columbus

Posted November 21st, 2012 by bbsadmin & filed under General Business, Motivation.


Christopher Columbus is credited with discovering the new world, but he wasn’t the first one here. As business entrepreneurs, we can learn much from how Columbus became famous.

1. Understand the trends

During the time of Columbus many people were going to the East Indies in order to get spices. Meat did not last long and spices would make it taste better when it was not as fresh. Aside from this there was silk and gold in this land. This industry was a very profitable industry. He wanted to voyage out to find a better trade route to the East Indies. It is important to notice that the demand was there and the industry was profitable, he was simply finding a better way to meet the demand. As a business owner, one needs to find ways to add value to their industry. Is there a way to make something faster or more affordable?

2. Raising capital

Just like business start ups of today, Columbus had to find starting capital to fund his voyage. He did not get the funding from the first person he contacted. He looked at many options in order to find the funding needed. It also took a very long time to secure this funding. It is important for startups to look at more than just their first option. Some funding options demand more control of the company than others. It may be important to consider the long term goals of the business and not just settle for anything. It is also important to understand that he had invested much time in planning and had made calculations before looking for funding.

3. The art of negotiation

Columbus asked the king and queen for a percentage of the profits that came from the success of the voyage. He also wanted to be governor of anything that was found. The Spanish king and queen eventually saw the voyage as a good idea for the country and granted most of what he requested. Just as Columbus, business owners should have their sights high in negotiations. They should develop a negotiation range. They should establish rules of the negotiation and have the courage to know when the negotiation is out of the range of their best alternative. The key is to plan ahead. Enter the negotiation as prepared as possible; don’t go in flying by the seat of your pants.

4. Ethics stem from management

Though Columbus and his crew were successful in creating a new colony, he had a few issues arise because of his poor management skills. In many instances the Indian population was treated poorly, Ethics stem from top management, whether it was him or members of his crew that treated the people poorly the ultimate responsibility fell to him as the leader. Management can’t govern with their eyes only half open when it comes to ethics.

5. Maintaining realistic expectations

At one point the crew became borderline mutinous due to the small amount of gold that was found. He lost his title of governor ( As business owners, there’s a fine line between invoking enthusiasm in the hearts of your employees and maintaining realistic expectations. Columbus may have read accounts of people who had visited the Indies and the wealth they were able to produce from it and under the perspective he had at the time of the voyage, he may have seen them as being on track to becoming very wealthy from the journey. In the end there wasn’t all that was expected, as far as wealth goes. Business leaders need to be straight forward and realistic with their goals and be able to communicate the current status of their objectives regularly.

Notable Quotes

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.”

“For this purpose I determined to keep an account of the voyage, and to write down punctually every thing we performed or saw from day to day, as will hereafter appear.”

Works Cited Christopher Columbus. n.d. 3 November 2012. n.d. 3 November 2012.