I recently read "The Wright Brothers," David McCullough's biography of Wilbur and Orville Wright. It was wonderful learning more about these two remarkable men.

Some of the attributes they brought to what they did would serve any business owner well.

Neither Wilbur nor Orville completed high school. Think about that! These men were the first to build and fly a plane and they didn't even have high school or college diplomas.

Their father, Milton, had an extensive library at the family home in Dayton, Ohio. The brothers read constantly.

Many small business owners have no formal business education. But, like the Wright brothers, that does not stop them from becoming educated. That education often comes from the School of Hard Knocks, the same institution that everybody must eventually take for at least a couple courses. Read as much as you can. I find I learn a lot about business by reading biographies.

Wilbur and Orville had a very successful business building and repairing bicycles. They started the business themselves. They dealt with the typical ups and downs that all business people experience. Their "downs" were opportunities to start again, not give up.

Small business owners must have that resiliency. Most things don't go like clockwork. When you hit a brick wall, you must find a way through it or around it. No one else will do it for you.

Once they got an idea into their heads, the Wright brothers were driven to follow through with it. Their foresight and perseverance were remarkable.

Here is a paraphrased excerpt from a letter Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.:I have been interested in the problem of mechanical and human flight ever since I [was a little boy].
My observations since then have only convinced me more firmly that human flight is possible and practical...
I am about to begin a systematic study of the subject in preparation for practical work to which I expect to devote what time I can spare from my regular business. I wish to obtain such papers that the Smithsonian Institution has published on this subject, and, if possible, a list of other works in print in the English language...
I am an enthusiast, but not a crank in the sense that I have some pet theories as to the proper construction of a flying machine.

Amazing. Little formal education did not stop Wilbur from reaching out to the Smithsonian Institute. He was humble, but clear, about his aspirations.

When anybody is crazy enough to simply start a business, they sometimes encounter naysayers. Yes, there is a lot to learn and a lot that can go wrong. Being self-motivated is essential for working one's way forward. And being humble enough to ask for help is critical.

As Wilbur and Orville's efforts progressed, they always carefully assessed the outcomes of anything they attempted to do, whether or not it was successful.

The very first thing they would do after a crash is to figure out what needed to be changed to prevent the same thing from happening again. If things went well, they would have an equally intense debrief. They would do this themselves, as they were often working alone with simple support from some of the local people at Kitty Hawk.

That objectivity increase the speed at which they learned from both failures and successes. A business person without objectivity is their own worst enemy. A humble perspective coupled with a forward-thinking perspective is essential for learning hard lessons quickly and with as little pain as possible.

Without an objective perspective, a business person is doomed to learn the same things over and over again, making little or no progress towards success.

It takes "The Wright Stuff" to be successful at anything.

Any one of these attributes—being self-educated, a self-starter, self-motivated, or a self-critic—by themselves are not enough. The combination is powerful. Not as capable in all these areas as you would like? Start with the first one: being self-educated. After all, that worked for the Wright brothers!