Monday, January 21, 2008

Learning From the Best: A Study of the Greatest Business

Copyright © Michael Laleye

Though you may be getting into small business for the rewards of working for yourself, providing for your family, and being in control of your own destiny, there are lessons that can be learned from multi billion dollar companies, even if your aspirations are much lower. These companies, by and large, started off no bigger than yours did, and perhaps with no greater visions, but with the right business practices, powerful advertising, and a great product, these companies becameAmerican institutions. Even if you have no greater designs than to make enough money to buy a house and give your family a comfortable lifestyle, you can study these companies for effective business ideas that can help you succeed, even on a local level. Not only do these companies offer lessons in practical business, but their enormous success stories can be an inspiration to anyone who want to achieve the American dream.

Take for instance Bill Gates and his monstrous Microsoft. Founded in the late seventies, Microsoft was already up against enormous odds. IBM and Apple computers had a hold on the burgeoning PC marketplace, which had a doubtful future itself. Gates, with no college diploma to speak of, went from bank to bank to try and get a loan in order to start his business. He did what he had to do because he had a singular focus and a dream. Though nary a day went by when someone didn’t tell him he was crazy and his ideas were poor, he persevered and became perhaps the greatest financial success story in American history. Beyond the specific marketing lessons one can learn by studying the history of Microsoft (and they are many), his story is one of personal triumph in a world of doubters.

Another of America’s top companies is, of course, McDonald’s. Ray Kroc began the world’s most popular hamburger franchise with a simple hamburger stand in his hometown. Today, McDonald’s is far and away one of the most successful businesses in the history of humankind, serving billions of people with cheap, tasty food. Kroc had a powerful vision and an unstoppable business model, but he had more than that. He had something different, and went in directions that had never been tried before. If there is one lesson to be learned from the McDonald’s story, it is that those with a different vision often achieve the most. Don’t be afraid to shake up the system. While you may fail, at least you will fail spectacularly. Those who don’t take risks will never reap the tremendous benefits of wild success.

You may not be looking to become a billionaire or change the world with your business, but the lessons taught by these American success stories can be applied to even the smallest microcosms. No matter what you are doing–if it is different and untested, there will be people telling you it won’t succeed. While everyone has an opinion, make sure you don’t give in to the doubters. If you believe in something, chances are it’s worthwhile. Make every decision with your head and your heart, and study the rich teachings of people who have made the most of the American business opportunities.

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