If you run a small business, achievements made by the likes of Apple, Virgin and Google often seem rather too lofty to be of any relevance to you. They’re conquering the world with products that have become household names and are making decisions that shape the way we run our lives.
How can you transpose their achievements, mistakes and lessons learned to your small operation that has just a handful of customers?
As it turns out, pretty easily. A multi-billion dollar business can make the exact same mistakes as a sole trader and feel the resulting pain in exactly the same way.
In this blog, we’ve picked out six business lessons anyone can learn from billion dollar industries.
1. Surviving in the toughest of conditions is absolutely possible
When things turn sour in business, it’s all too easy to throw in the towel and assume your time is up. But if billion dollar industries have taught us anything, it’s that it’s absolutely possible to make it through the worst of times.
Take the UK manufacturing industry, which has seen output levels decrease over the years. However, dig deeper, and you find that the sector still accounts for 52% of the nation’s total exports and employs three million people. Is manufacturing dead? Not at all.
2. You must stand out from the crowd
Apple’s strap line used to be “Think Different”, and for good reason. Among a sea of dull, grey boxes, their desktop and laptop computers stood out. They were colourful, featured innovative and genuinely useful design touches (a handle on the first iMac, for example) and simply couldn’t be mistaken for anything else.
To be successful in business, you need to be distinctive, brave and willing to take risks.
3. Risk is essential
Speaking of taking risks, Sir Richard Branson is well known for taking some rather large punts in business. His motto of “screw it, let’s do it” has made him one of the most wealthy entrepreneurs on the planet, but it’s landed him in hot water, too.
From remortgaging his house in the early days to selling Virgin Records in order to keep the airline business alive, Branson proves that you simply can’t be successful without stepping outside of your comfort zone once in a while.
4. Appreciate (all) those around you
When it comes to shining the spotlight on the individuals who make up a whole, you need look no further than the film industry. As most of us walk out of the cinema when the credits start rolling, it’s easy to forget that the names gracefully making their way up the screen comprise everyone from the top billing actor to the guy who sweeps the studio floor.
5. Enjoy competition
Salesforce was arguably one of the first enterprise-level software as a service (SaaS) products when it hit the market in 1999.
However, just a few short years later, every other CRM jumped on the SaaS bandwagon and, rather than assume their secret to success had been seized by others, Salesforce embraced the competition by forging ahead with an aggressive business strategy that helped propel them to the fifty billion dollar company they are today.
6. If you spot an opportunity – go for it
In 2003, Google failed in its bid to buy the social network Friendster. Rather than create their own network, they proceeded instead to lose interest in what would eventually become one of the most important elements of modern communication.
As a result, Google has forever been behind the pack when it comes to social networking. Don’t make the same mistake; if you have a hunch something is worth pursuing – go for it.
Billion dollar companies aren’t perfect – far from it. The lessons above can be transferred to your operation, no matter the products you sell, the size of your customer base or the number of zeros in your sales projections.