I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve operated several small / micro businesses so far in my life (lawn mowing, contract software development, a computer repair company). I started Novak Solutions, LLC about a year ago.
Over the last few years I have slowly been reading a book called “Ideas That Became Big Business“. It is a GREAT read. It is a compilation of one to two page histories of big businesses. Taking you from the idea through to the businesses current state (atleast current at the time of writing which was in the 50′s).
I read this book looking for the secrets of success of these big businesses. I discovered a few characteristics that were common among all the companies (in order of importance I think).
- Hard Work
- A Good Idea
Occasionally luck also played a part. Specifically in the case of “Cream of Wheat”. The story goes that one of three partners in a struggling flour business decided to try a new product. The company had no extra capital so the used existing plates to print the logo on the box (the African American chef), some recycled crates to put the boxes in and included it in their next shipment of flour. A few days later they received a telegram from the customer that said “Forget the flour! Send us more of that new Cream of Wheat!”
Another good story is the creation of John Deere. A farmer was in an area where the mud was such that it would stick to the plow and make it almost impossible to plow a field. He tinkered some and formed a new plow shape that the mud wouldn’t stick to. After a few years sales sored and through acquisitions John Deere became what it is today.
Many company founders struggle for over a decade (that’s right, over a decade) before their ideas took off. Notably the first commercial manufacturer of zippers (The Talon Zipper Company) founded by Whitcomb L Judson, He invented the precursor of the modern zipper in 1891, but it wasn’t until the zipper was redesigned and he partnered with Gideon Sundback to design equipment that would automatically manufacture them that the company began to turn a profit. Sales were still very Meager until 1923 when the zipper appeared on Galoshes which were marketed by B.F. Goodrich Co. A whopping 30 years after the initial invention.
So, if you are interested in business. I highly recommend this book.
And, if you own a business that isn’t performing like you want, hang in there and don’t give up.