All big things started out small, even the largest companies in the world, started out as tiny seedlings. Through constant nurturing and the persistence of the people behind it, these seedlings started to sprout, bloom and grow into a lush forest, where it stands today. Learn from these 3 ultra-powerful corporations to understand what they did right and how you can too!
(Inventions and reinventions: Looking ahead of time)
In the world of technology where, change is the only constant; to keep up is to be obsolete, being ahead is key. Microsoft Corporation, started back in 1975 with a phone call to Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), just to determine the company’s interest in a BASIC interpreter for their Altair 8800. When asked for a demonstration, scrambled to write the software and in a couple of months, they traveled to Albuquerque, presented a never-tried-before product and soon were hired to work at MITS. With industry knowledge and keen foresight, the duo spotted this opportunity, took the risk and worked on it before anyone else did. With that, Microsoft was born.
Through the years, the company has grown to be the largest developer and manufacturer of PC Operating Systems and computer software. It has also expanded its business to include consumer electronics and personal computers. However, the journey is not without trials and errors. Microsoft invented the Xenix, a Unix operating system, which was licensed to computer manufactures like IBM. Although it did not take flight, it paved the way for MS-DOS. When IBM began to develop their own operating system, Microsoft looked ahead and reinvented its product, giving rise to the Windows that we know today.
Bill Gate’s intelligence allows the company to quickly assess situations and plan strategic moves. Sensing the threat from VisiCorp, a software used in Macintosh, Microsoft launched an advertising campaign announcing a new product, Windows, a new Microsoft Operating System with graphic interfaces. At the time of announcement, Microsoft had no such software in pipeline, it was a tactic to stall the change to VisiCorp software as current users would rather wait for the Windows upgrade. Without the demand, developers were unwilling to continue writing for VisiCorp, thus it lost its momentum by early 1985.
Under the leadership of Bill Gates, Microsoft has been able to invent and reinvent their products and capture future demands. With good understanding of the industry, strong business acumen and a great appetite for risk, Microsoft has made its way into our way of life.
(Connections; from Seattle to the World)
From one small coffee shop in Seattle to over 23,000 outlets worldwide, Starbucks had made its way into the lives of millions of people; from the morning perk-me-ups to the afternoon coffee breaks; from friendly gathering to business meetings. Guided by the principles of connections, familiarity, informality and accessible luxury, every Starbucks outlet around the world, is designed in a similar fashion. From the large tables and seating area, friendly staff, light music, and free Wi-Fi – it strives to be the 3rd place between home and work, where connections are forged.
Starbucks’ immense popularity attracted others to follow suit. Being stuck in between giants like McDonald’s, and small local start-ups campaigning for “Support Local Businesses”, Starbucks began to lose its spirit of romance. It was then, that Howard Schultz, Chairman, and CEO of Starbucks, began to look to the basic principle, Connection. He connected and listened to the managers as he did with the customers. Starbucks ran a project online allowing anyone from staff to consumers, to share their ideas and feedback for improvement. The ideas were discussed online and the popular ones were selected for possible implementation in stores.
Anyone can sell coffee but no one can sell coffee like Starbucks. By retaining their basic principles and listening to the people; these were the very things that grew the business and often it is also the key differentiating factor that makes your business stand out from the rest.
(Creating a Revolution)
Before the birth of the iPod, Sony revolutionised the way we listen to music today. At that time, portable recorders existed for decades but were sold only to reporters. Besides the bulky and expensive portable tape player, there was nothing compact enough for the masses. It was under the instruction of Sony’s then-honorary chairman, Masaru Ibuka, to manufacture a smaller version of the portable tape player for his own personal use. The resulting product was so impressive that the Walkman made its way to the markets.
Being a revolutionary product, criticism were received everywhere. Despite the mockery by the press, Sony went full steam ahead to launch the product by means of creative marketing. In a month, all 30,000 units were sold out. Sony successfully created a new category of players known as the personal audio player. In the next 10 years, Sony sold 50 million units of Walkman. Sony continued to lead the category with further innovations like the portable CD players and mini-disc; leading to the launch of Memory Stick Walkman and VAIO Music Clip as well.
By listening to not only their customers, but their staff as well – Starbucks forged connections that connected them from Seattle to the world. By creating a customer experience that was unique and desirable, Amazon has made itself the go-to place for just about any need or want a consumer could have. And finally by creating a revolutionary product and believing in its potential, Sony carved a name for itself in history. Even today, the key learning points these 3 household brands can offer are timeless and applicable to businesses of any size.