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Ben Cohen wanted to be a potter but wasn’t having any luck selling his pottery. Jerry Greenfield wanted to go to medical school but didn’t get accepted. Friends since high school, they decided to try building something together. They considered opening a bagel shop, but the bagel equipment was too expensive; so they settled on ice cream.

With one five-gallon ice cream maker and $12,000 ($4,000 from the bank and $4,000 each) they opened Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont in a run-down building with a leaky roof that used to be a gas station.

Ben and Jerry

Customers liked Ben & Jerry’s creative flavors, but when the first winter came there wasn’t enough cash in the bank to get them through the seasonal drop in business. Ben and Jerry had been overly generous scoopers all summer. To bring in some extra money they decided to try to sell their ice cream to restaurants. They bought a refrigerated delivery truck when demand outgrew the 16 tubs one car could carry, but costs went up. The truck kept breaking down. To increase revenue they decided to try selling their ice cream in pints to the small grocers on the way to the restaurants they served. Ben and Jerry were on their way to building the empire they eventually sold to Unilever.

Sometimes things go as we planned. When they don’t it doesn’t mean they went wrong. They just went different. If we adjust our plans in response, things may go even better than what we expected. Abandoning your plans to try something different is not giving up; giving up is a refusal to accept your circumstances and adjust accordingly.