The legendary IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad, passed away peacefully in his home this past Sunday, January 29. What he left behind is more than a global empire comprised of bookcases, chairs, beds, rugs, and Swedish meatballs. This entrepreneur's journey has many lessons to offer - and I promise, they're clearer than the 52-page instruction booklets that accompany most of his furniture (even though innovation is happening there as well).

1. Think outside the box (literally) 

Do you remember 'flat-packs'? It was the ingenious idea with which Kamprad changed the world of furniture, when he decided to package the furniture flat, drastically dropping shipping and handling costs, and placing responsibility on the customer to assemble their own product (even if it came with endless pages of instructions). These feelings that labor leads to love, were even coined the 'IKEA effect' and have been studied by the country's top business schools, including Harvard Business School.

As Malcolm Gladwell suggests, disagreeableness, or not being concerned if everyone else thinks you're crazy, is one of the five traits that Kamprad possessed and piloted his success - even if that meant inconveniently ripping the legs off our table (and the emotional turmoil that comes with building it).

2. "Obstacle" - it was just a word

Kamprad struggled with dyslexia and had difficulty concentrating in school because of this. When he found it difficult to use the numeric codes for identifying specific types of furniture, he chose to use men and women's names, Swedish islands, and Norwegian places instead -- and he got the job done.

He understood that our only limitations are the ones we set up in our own minds and that there was no such thing as a barrier. Perseverance and resilience became the lifeblood of this pioneering entrepreneur. 

3. In entrepreneurship, age is irrelevant

Growing up in poverty, Kamprad started with humble beginnings, selling matches for profit at age 5. He then expanded his business riding around his neighborhood selling Christmas decorations, fish, and pencils at age 10. When he received a monetary gift from his father at age 17, he registered the company and has since grown IKEA to the empire it is today.

Regardless of age, Kamprad possessed the drive to succeed (even if you can't drive). Whether you're 8 or 80 years old, it should inspire many an entrepreneur today to never see their age as a reason they can't or shouldn't do something.

What about you?

Kamprad's legacy will undoubtedly live on. I am humbled to have witnessed his entrepreneurial journey and the impact he has made on our world. What he wanted to achieve couldn't be more clear:

"To create a better everyday life for the many people."

-Ingvar Kamprad, March 30, 1926 - January 27, 2018

Question is, what will you create?

Published on: Jan 31, 2018