The most valuable companies in the world today did not envision a corporate empire at their birth. In 1976, Apple’s founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, embarked on a journey to develop a user-friendly personal computer from a garage; the company now stands at a whopping $1.38 trillion of unassailable market valuation with its product line being the crème de la crème of smartphones and laptops.
Google was one of the many companies born in the dotcom era, the year 1998, but one of the few that survived the dotcom crash and thrived into the world’s most powerful and most-used search engine. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, crossed the $1 Trillion thresholds in January 2020.
In comparison, Facebook sits at the lowest valuation with a $682 billion market cap but is by no means a pauper. In 2004, Facebook’s founder at the age of 19 built and operated the platform in his dorm room, which now caters to over 2.6 billion monthly active users, making it the world’s largest social media network in 2020.
Every year an average of 50 million ambitious startups come into existence, but 90% of them fail; 10% bowing out within the first year due to bad business model, failure to solve an existing marketing, tough competition, insufficient funds, disharmony in the team, expensive pricing model, poor marketing, legal challenges, and lack of passion and drive.
Source: CB INSIGHTS
These world’s most powerful and influential companies had humble origins. Many aspiring entrepreneurs look up to these examples and wonder what secret elixir brought them to the pinnacle? How did they avert the challenges associated with a start-up?
So before any startup launches into the fray, they must study the business models of these successful companies, and extract valuable lessons that would grant them a permanent place in the 10% startup success rate.
Lesson#1 Solving a Problem
The world has witnessed the weirdest tech inventions that as a customer, we balk and wonder who would use that thing. Actually, no one. Rich tech companies with geeky engineers would make new things because they can.
However, that’s not the case with Apple, as its engineers are asked to create things that people cannot live without. Back then, Steve Jobs used to be the chief ‘users’ of those products in their testing phase, and the culture still continues even a decade after his death.
Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, did not conceive of building a business as he revealed his social media website ‘the Facebook’ to his mates. Zuckerberg only intended to solve a problem by connecting people in schools and colleges on one platform. There were websites for music, information, and many other services, but no social media network where one could find someone and connect with them.
Every successful startup that ever existed adhered to the principle of solving their customer’s problem with simple solutions — at least on the customer’s end, they should be simple and easy to use.
Lesson#2 If the Solution Exists, Make a Better One
The idea of a touchscreen smartphone or Mp3 player was not introduced by Apple, rather they had existed well before the company set on to work on them. Sure, the company did invent the first commercial computer with the Apple II, and the subsequent Mac product line improved upon it. However, the reason why Apple is deemed as the innovator of smartphones and the Mp3 Player is that it presented a better solution to customers. Apple reinvented those technologies and delivered a superior interface and usability experience.
Jonathan Ive, an Apple designer, once said, “Our goals are very simple — to design and make better products. If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it.”
Lesson#3 Forge a Culture that Best Works for Your Company
Your solutions, innovations, and ideas can be copied, but one thing no one can duplicate is the corporate culture. Every organization, however, attempts to emulate Google’s legendary office culture.
Google does not only offer free food, but the onsite gym, medical facilities, massage therapy, decompression capsules to catch up on naps, and many more onsite perks to its employees to establish a fun-fueled problem-solving culture throughout the organization.
The founders used to hang out in the kitchen area and address a grave corporate issue, involving not only relevant stakeholders but also the whole of the office. One never knows who may come up with an ingenious solution. This is just one instance of how the founders forged a unique problem-solving company culture at Google.
Lesson#4 Stay Ahead of the Competition
To this day, Apple’s competitors argue that Apple’s iPhone wasn’t the first in the race of capacitive touchscreen. To this day Samsung is at daggers drawn with Apple over who was the first. Samsung and Nokia were working on the technology around the same time but did not release it quickly enough. Nokia all together backed out due to the risks of cost. LG PRADA was announced months before the iPhone stole its thunder because of iPhone’s cutting-edge specifications and sleek design.
In fact, Apple is always ahead of its competitors as it starts working on its next best technology at least two years ahead. Whether it was releasing its 3D-sensing technology or the newest iPhone model, the projects were probably signed off at least two years ago.
Lesson#5 Be Flexible and Scalable
Most startups have wonderful customer solutions, but they fail to scale and we have to bid a good-bye to a very promising product.
Facebook popularity rose within weeks across the campus and reached 100 million users in four years, 1 billion in another four years, and now it has doubled to over 2 billion users as internet connectivity becomes ubiquitous, courtesy of unparalleled providers like Charter Spectrum and its Spectrum Internet Customer Service.
All these years, Facebook prioritized scalability by implementing a number of strategies, creating cross-disciplinary teams, flexible engineering and operation staff, introducing changes incrementally, measuring every metric, and lastly, it moved fast by maintaining small and independent teams, who had control over everything under their jurisdiction.
The founder stopped micromanaging long ago, and instead focused on the bigger picture. He permitted an inordinate amount of freedom to his staff in decision-making and day-to-day processes, even when he didn’t agree with them.
Lesson#6 Be Persistent
Most startups give up under the slightest pressure or too much of it, but not these resilient tech companies. Back in 2004, Google aimed to launch Google Books; however, the company did not have the resources to execute a substantial level of the project. Despite multiple copyright legal battles, Google persisted in working on the project and partnered with a multitude of educational institutions and libraries in order to develop the world’s top-class digital library of written works. Today, Google Books holds a repository of 30 million scanned books and is the world’s largest digital library.
Lesson#7 On-going Innovation
Apple, Google, and Facebook keep testing new products and innovations continuously. Many of their tech experiments have failed such as Apple III, Apple Newton, Google Wave, Orkut, Facebook Beacon, Facebook Credit, and many more. However, some brought in thundering success and compensated for the 90% of their failure.
Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin had long-established the legendary practice of 20% time since 2004. Instead of a dedicated Innovation department, every employee at Google can spend 20% of their time i.e. 1 full day per week on a passion project of their own choice and creation that will most benefit Google.
Andrew Ng worked with a couple of other researchers at Google during their ’20 percent time’ on a new branch of Artificial Intelligence that is Deep Learning. The effort and Ng’s passion for AI paid off immensely in the form of the Google Brain deep learning AI system. Moreover, many popular and most-used Google products such as Gmail and AdSense have origins in the 20% time.
Of course, Big 3’s uber-extravagant budget allows room for innovations and cushions the failure rate, but let’s not forget about their humble beginnings. They progressed because they innovated even when they had very little.
The lessons one can take from these giants are endless and invaluable. These companies not only had an irrevocable impact on consumers’ lifestyle but also pioneered cutting-edge and innovative best practices that can be applied across all industries once they get past the intimidating gargantuan infrastructure, far-reaching influence, uninterrupted cash flows, and resources. The basic principles on which these companies have hinged on since their births are the ones that can grow any startup from rags to riches.
Baldwin Jackson is a successful digital marketer with expertise in search engine optimization and content marketing. The perfect balance of his analytical ability and creative thinking is what sets him apart from other practitioners in the digital marketing realm. He has helped a lot of small and medium-sized businesses in crafting their digital marketing strategies that are not only cost-effective but delivers results as well.
Baldwin is also a proud father of two kids and a Sports enthusiast. When he is not working, you will find him watching ESPN and NFL network. He has been able to get an amazing package on his favorite channels from Buytvinternetphone.com.