Imitation can be more than flattering – drawing inspiration from successful businesses may mean the difference between life and death for your new company, and so it’s not surprising that many of the shrewdest entrepreneurs have been known to imitate others.
If you think of most successful businessmen as inventors, think again. Some may be, but most utilize their own talents in salesmanship, financial management and resourcing to capitalize on the inventions of others. Here, then, are five companies on which to take notes before launching your own.
This Internet giant may seem like the Leviathan compared to your business, but there are many lessons to be learned from Google, especially when it comes to strategizing and problem solving. When it comes to new products, not even the sharpest-minded Google executive can tell you which ones will attract the masses. The company therefore has a policy in which products are launched quickly and perfected later. Rather than taking a lot of time to perfect a product that may not attract a crowd, put it out there and let customer feedback guide you to a better product.
It wasn’t long ago that the world’s biggest, brightest tech company was sinking into irrelevance. The subsequent Steve Jobs-inspired turnaround teaches us many lessons, one of the most important of which is to embrace innovation and technology. Be on the lookout for what your company can do in the future, and how you can continue to better the products you create now.
In the wake of 9/11, Southwest was more than inspiring. During a time when many airlines were reducing their workforce by 20 percent, Southwest held off on making cuts. The company had a longstanding business principle that put the customer first, no matter what, and knew that good customer service was provided by a strong staff. Southwest kept all its employees and initiated a $179.8 million profit-sharing payment for them. The airline’s strong values were the backbone that helped it through a major crisis.
Again and again, company CEO Jim Sinegal has proven that being a cool boss will keep the revenues piling high. Although he could afford to pay himself millions, Sinegal keeps $350,000 for himself each year and works out of a plainly decorated office. His one-page contract holds him responsible for actually working – or else he may be fired. Sinegal is rewarded for his efforts with the lowest employee turnover rate in the industry.
The incredible honesty offered by CEO Glenn Kelman on his company blog was met with company growth. The real estate business was blacklisted by real estate agents who didn’t appreciate its policy on commission – Redfin gives back two-thirds of what the typical agent would charge. By blogging about the negative aspects of the industry, the problems he’d been having within the company and even making fun of himself a bit, Kelman won quite a few customers.