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Business Lessons on Building Billion-Dollar Companies

What is the difference between driving a company into the ground within the first twelve months, and leading it past the IPO hurdle and on into the stratosphere? Luck? Intelligence? Studying hard in school?

These may be contributing factors, but somewhat surprisingly, the lessons we can learn from some of the biggest companies, who got where they are in the most spectacular ways, often focus on the basics. Read on to see what legendary CEOs consider to be the most important stuff, and try to think of ways to apply these lessons in your own life.


Come up With Something so Great, People Won’t Believe You

Facebook, Uber, Apple and Microsoft all created valuable, marketable offerings that was not only not on the market at the time, they were not even on the horizon. Each was potentially worth billions of dollars, and yet didn’t exist!

At the same time (and this may have weighed heavily in them getting seed money, or we might not know these brands today), their advances can typically be expressed in a single sentence. “Be connected,” “A thousand songs in your pocket,” etc.

If you have an idea that satisfies both criteria, it might just be time to stop dreaming and start doing serious planning on how you can begin.

Build Your Brand

A bottle of fancy perfume or a pair of designer sneakers can sell for profit margins so astronomical, you would click right past an online “investment opportunity” offering the same returns. How do they do this? Strong brand recognition. How did they get it?

Nike certainly couldn’t sell their first pair of shoes for $500, so if you’re business is just starting out, don’t look at their strategy of today. Instead, look at the early history of brands which can now be recognized from Djibouti to Paris. Most often, they started out as tiny companies with a very strong focus on one niche market. By offering good quality products, being sensitive to what the market desired and gradually building up not only a customer base but a community of fans, they could diversify both in terms of product lines and geographically. Especially in an interconnected world, happy customers are what is going to build your brand, snazzy advertising notwithstanding.

Basic Project Management Strategies

It’s no use wishing to rule the world in five years if you don’t wake up knowing what you’re going to do every day. It’s difficult to imagine Steve Jobs stepping into his garage – Apple’s corporate headquarters at one time – without clear goals and a plan to achieve them in mind.

The basic SMART criteria (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) are an excellent guide, as are placing each goal within an overall strategy and having daily, weekly and longer term goals.

To ensure that you’re not wasting your limited hours, make a daily list of things you need to do and stick to it. Don’t make it too long: if you have a to-do list of five actions, you’re sure of getting five things done. If your daily list contains fifty items, you can still basically count on the first five. Everybody knows that successful entrepreneurs are committed, but not everybody realizes that this manifests in physically getting things done every day.