Ask most businesses, and they will probably tell you that they somehow look up to a mentor or a company, using their success as their model. That isn’t surprising, though.
Often, the tried-and-tested companies have a wealth of lessons to teach to start-ups and small business entrepreneurs. Here are five of them:
1. You Don’t Need a Fancy Office Right Away
Sayings like “Looks are everything” or “Fake it until you make it” may be some reasons start-ups dream of running a business in a fancy office, preferably in a famous address like Silicon Valley or the central business district.
But the likes of Google, Harley-Davidson, and Mattel teach the world that you don’t really have to. One needs to be resourceful enough to maximize any available space in the home, such as a garage or a basement. Facebook will tell you that you can run a prototype in the comforts of a dorm room.
Besides, commercial offices’ rental costs can be huge, eating up much of your capital or cash flow. In Utah, for example, a room in a class A building may be worth $29 per square foot. A small office, meanwhile, is around 120 square feet. Doing the math, over $3,000 of your money goes to rent alone.
Go on and call a garage door expert today and convert the underutilized space into your first commercial office.
2. A College Diploma Doesn’t Guarantee Success
To be clear, this doesn’t mean you can forget about getting a college or university education. It still offers plenty of benefits for you.
According to Oregon State University, the median annual earnings of a full-time worker with only a high school diploma is around $30,000. However, for someone who completed a college or university degree they could take home $64,000. Those who pursued a master’s degree could earn more at over $80,000.
In a data collated by Northeastern University, college graduates would have over 55% more opportunities to get a job than non-graduates. Many jobs online still looked for someone who has a diploma to show.
However, education doesn’t have to get in the way of your dream to start or run a business. Neither does a diploma guarantee that you’ll succeed in your entrepreneurial endeavor. Henry Ford, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates launched their billion-dollar business without completing a degree.
3. Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight
There’s a good reason experts believe get-rich-quick schemes are scams: success doesn’t happen in a matter of days or months. It can even take years, and unfortunately, about 20% of small businesses won’t make it the first year.
One needs to know the success story of Angry Birds. Rovio launched the game in 2009, and it became a massive hit with millions of downloads and a few movies to boot. But before this all happened, the company, which began in 2003, was already on the brink of bankruptcy and failed to achieve something big in the first 50 games it released.
4. Just Because You’re in Silicon Valley Doesn’t Mean You Made It
You cannot fault anyone who’s into tech to set their sights on Silicon Valley. Despite the gargantuan costs of commercial and residential rent and the dog-eat-dog world atmosphere, it is the epitome of “having made it.”
But that’s not always the case. Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, was once the darling in the region. Young, female, and inventive, she was set to launch a blood-testing technology that could change medicine. Then, her lifestyle and pretenses got in the way.
Jawbone seemed to have what it takes to dominate the fitness tracking industry. It had a wealth of experience, sound design, and, most of all, tons of money. Before its demise, its valuation reached over $2.5 billion.
However, Reuters also argued that over-funding could be one of the reasons for its death. High valuations made it more difficult to promote the business for acquisition. This is on top of its struggles to match the functionality of its competitors, among other issues.
What does a small business—or any other enterprise—need to truly succeed? Besides innovation, smart leadership, and an excellent team, it needs to have grit. Honda is one of the leading non-American car brands in the United States today, but it wouldn’t have been around if not for Soichiro Honda’s tenacity.
Those businesses that withstand the test of time didn’t make it there for the flimsiest reasons. They worked hard, innovated, invested well, and focused their attention on what’s most essential for their success. These are qualities even small businesses can lean on to become one of them.