Our special report in the January 2012 issue of Farm Equipment is comprised of interviews with five top executives of shortline ag equipment manufacturers. As I read through the interviews, I couldn't help but wonder how many times these entrepreneurs and their companies were told why their ideas wouldn't work and why it wasn't worth pursuing their "better mousetrap."

But it was some gut feeling that told them they were on the right track, despite what conventional wisdom and the "numbers" may have told others. As Henry Ford once pointed out, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."

It also reminded me of a list of eight legendary business predictions that missed the mark as compiled by Glen Stansberry. Here’s the list. You can decide if they were right or wrong.

1. "[Apple's iPhone] is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good e-mail machine…"

— Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, 2007 

2. "With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market."

— Business Week, August 2, 1968 

3. "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out,"

— Decca Records about The Beatles in 1962 

4. "The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000, at most."

— IBM’s comment to Xerox in 1959

5. "Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”

— Movie producer Darryl Zanuck to 20th Century Fox, 1946 

6. "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."

— Ken Olson, co-founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977 

7. "The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C', the idea must be feasible."

— A Yale University professor to Fred Smith, founder of FedEx

8. "Children just aren’t interested in witches and wizards anymore."

— One publisher's take on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books

 So, what are the takeaways from all of this?

  • The "experts" aren't always right.
  • It's easier to predict that something’s going to fail than it is to try to make it work.
  • It's OK to believe in yourself and go with your gut.

How about adding this last point to your resolutions for 2012?