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6 Garages That Changed The World

6 Garages That Changed The World

Everyone loves a rags to riches story. The majority of us aren’t royalty or offspring of oil barons, but spend our time merely attempting to make ends meet while trying our best to make the most of our time while we’re here. That’s why when we see a story of triumph, like a journey from modest pastures to fields of great success, we find it awe-inspiring.

Here were people, just like us, who with great vision, sacrifice and innovation, seized an opportunity to achieve. Funnily enough, nothing can typify this sentiment more than the spawning of some of the world’s biggest and most influential companies. Many of them started out in very humble workplace arrangements. It’s hard to believe. When we think of the big corporations and conglomerates of today, we think of skyscrapers and executive living, not computers paired alongside pedestal fans and gardening equipment. It’s truly amazing that some of the world’s leading companies, of which arguably bear influence over the direction of mankind, all began operating out of a home garage.

Don’t believe it? Read on to see how the modern world was defined and changed all thanks to a few trusty lock up, (we hope), garages!

1. Google

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Google Office California

    It’s September 1998, and a couple of Stanford graduates, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, decide to rent a garage from a friend, Susan Wojcicki. They worked day and night over the following months to develop an online search engine called ‘Google’. Their goal was to create a platform that could pull all the information on the web into one portal accessible for anyone (and anywhere) that had an internet connection.

    Fast-forward 18 years and Google is the most used search engine available, as well as the most visited domain in existence. This was no accident. Page and Brin were not your average students – they were prodigies, blessed with capabilities worthy of transfiguring the world. Think about just how big Google is for a second. In your immediate surroundings, fathom how many people use it, need it, rely on it. Stats highlight that every minute that passes, 2 million searches are conducted on Google.

    Since its inception, Google has firmly cemented its global domination and is only getting bigger. They recently announced developments in things like basic artificial intelligence. This all stemmed from a small room attached to a house. For Page and Brin to succeed, all they needed was a garage setting to compliment and fuel their brilliant minds – and thus Google was born. When Google bought out Youtube, they made Ms. Wojcicki (their initial garage landlord) CEO as a token of appreciation.

    2. Microsoft

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    Microsoft Office Building

      It’s weird to think that Microsoft, creator of the most popular software in the world, with a market share of 80%, was conceived in the garage of a small suburb in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bill Gates, alongside friend Paul Allen, worked on a small software program in partnership with IBM. These early days lead to the creation of the landmark software application ‘Windows’.

      Microsoft is now one of the biggest companies in the world, worth several hundred billion in capital. More than a billion computers worldwide are running Windows. As the company constantly updates and refines its programs, it will no doubt get bigger. The company also channels a large amount of its wealth for philanthropic purposes. Microsoft, under the guise and encouragement of Gates, is always starting new charities to help aid and assist people or regions in need, most notably in Africa. Donations to notable causes and organisations are now a fundamental pillar in Microsoft’s company values. As of today, Microsoft is the leading software provider worldwide and has lead to Gates being dubbed the 4th most powerful man in the world. A simple garage is all it took to get it all going.

      3. Amazon

      Amazon Warehouse

        The story of Amazon is much like the river; long, meandering and wild, yet compelling and inspiring. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, worked in computer science on Wall Street throughout the early 90s, building networks in international trading. After being exposed to the rapid growth in internet based business, Bezos left his well paid job in New York in pursuit of his own venture, driving cross country to relocate in Seattle, drafting the formative plans for an internet-based shopping centre along the way. This road trip led to the creation of what is now the biggest online retailer in the world, Amazon.

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        Arriving in Seattle, Bezos set up shop in his garage, pooling together his ingenuity and creative resources to pave the way for a corporate juggernaut that is today the pinnacle of E-commerce and online shopping. The company sits around $65 billion in value, serving customers worldwide. Funny to think it all started from selling a book out of a garage. Now, people associate Amazon with the retailer more so than the breathtaking river.

        4. Disney

        A Disney Store in Paris

          In 1923, brothers Walt and Roy Disney, who were looking to start their careers as artists, politely asked their uncle if they could use his garage to make films (you know, as one typically does). Unsure of what exactly Walt and Roy were referring to, he kindly permitted. The works that were created in this garage, all due to the generosity of Walt and Roy’s uncle, would influence storytelling, filmmaking, and the worldwide landscape of media and entertainment. Their legacy continues to touch the hearts and imaginations of generations upon generations to this very day.

          This success, like all great stories, didn’t come without its challenges. There was a high chance the Disney company was going to be as prolific as Bambi’s mother’s screen time. Disney faced overwhelming rejection from investors in the early stages of production. However, the animated film eventually triumphed, and Disney became one of the highest earning film studios in the world. Today, it’s one of the biggest media entities, leading the way in family animation with Pixar and blockbuster entertainment with Marvel movies and Star Wars. All it took was great imagination, a generous uncle, and a modest garage to help inspire stories that touch our hearts still to this day and create a show business empire.

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          5. Apple

          Apple Store

            Probably the most popular garage story, a lot of us are very aware of Apple’s humble beginnings. Founder Steve Jobs, given the scarcity of the industry at the time, opted to work from his parents’ home garage to create ‘Apple’ along with pals Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. This was in negotiation and strict agreement with Steve’s adopted parents, Paul and Clara. This garage would become the birthplace of Apple 1, Apple’s first major computing product. This was the beginning of what would lead to a journey of worldwide technological advancement.

            Apple’s journey was one that encompassed tumultuous and cyclonic events in its early years, which saw creator, Jobs, leave and then later return to establish Apple as one of the biggest tech giants in the world. Innovative products like the ipod, macbook, iphone, imac, and ipad have transformed the way in which the world connects and engages. Apple’s success is best highlighted by the fact it was the first company in the United States to be valued at $700 billion and is the largest publicly traded corporation in the world by market capitalization. Next time you look at your iphone, or order a much needed coffee courtesy of an ipad, thank Paul and Clara Jobs for generously sub-letting their garage.

            Conclusion

            It’s overwhelming to think that the world has been so heavily influenced by inventions and innovations conceived in plain old garages. A room usually reserved for cars, storage, garden equipment, and unwanted furniture is also apparently a recurring source of creative, highly lucrative, and influential ideas. If you’re looking for an office space to fuel your startup or entrepreneurship, remind yourself of the admirable stories mentioned here, where creative geniuses opted for a garage over an overpriced feng shui workplace.

            By combining the wealth of these ideas created in garages, the figures reach north of several trillion dollars. Let that sink in. You can’t help but imagine what would’ve happened if the individuals mentioned throughout hadn’t locked their garage doors. Ideas are synonymous with theft, so if you decide to follow the footsteps of these great innovators from the contemporary world, be sure to research how to lock up, service, and maintain your garage.

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            Last Updated on May 28, 2020

            How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

            How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

            Learning how to succeed in business used to be a case of being really good at one skill or area and milking it for all its value. Today, we are fast becoming a “skills economy”[1], driving trends in employment and even the way we approach entrepreneurship.

            To succeed in today’s business landscape, business owners and executives need to possess a mix of skills that enable them to stay ahead and adapt to change.

            1. Digital Savviness

            As the adage goes: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist.” Today’s entrepreneurs need to take to the internet to increase their presence and to remain relevant in an evolving business landscape.

            Companies like Amazon, Netflix, Airbnb and more are a testament to the disruptive impact of technology and the new image of what it means to be a skilled, successful professional. Think about today’s Mark Zuckerberg versus a banker from the 90s.

            Being able to quickly adapt to new technology, like cloud applications and collaborating remotely across the internet, is fast becoming the expected norm for executives.

            For businesses, discoverability on the web is becoming a quick litmus test for credibility. Potential customers and investors bank on the first page of Google to make up half their minds about making further transactions with a business. GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying[2].

            How to Develop This Skill

            For a start, begin by hosting your website and reserving all of your brand’s handles across social media platforms. While hiring a web developer might sound like the next step, consider first hosting your company’s site on more user and budget-friendly options like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

            From here, you can start on some simple search engine optimization techniques that will increase your discoverability over time. Through keyword research, organic content creation, and external back-links, your site will, eventually, slowly but surely garner more traffic.

            Note, however, that an increase in search traffic does not immediately imply an increase in revenue. But it’s a start for delving into customer conversion rates in the future.

            2. Financial Forecasting

            Let’s face it, many business owners feel that time could be better spent on developing and running the business instead of planning for it financially. However, a financial forecast serves as a roadmap for shaping any kind of business and is not just reserved for the likes of listed companies providing financial guidance to shareholders.

            Largely, forecasting and planning your financial goals will give you a clearer idea of resources required and ways to measure success. It can also provide assurance to investors as a testament to the thorough research and planning you have done when included in business plans.

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            However, inaccurate forecasts can lead to livid investors and mismanagement of expenses, which could potentially result in financial teething problems. When creating a detailed financial forecast, a rule of thumb is to always start with your expenses.

            How to Develop This Skill

            Generally, it is easier to calculate and predict your expenses compared to your revenue, so noting down your expenses is a starting point to benchmark how much you might need to generate in sales to turn a profit. It is a good habit to regularly update and evaluate how adjacent your operations are to what you have forecasted.

            Building a precise set of growth forecasting will take time, but, remember, you are an investor in your own business. You must have confidence in the validity of your business concept.

            3. Video Production Skills

            The rise of visual mediums and the dopamine boosts it gives to users has long been researched and proven as providing an unfair advantage to businesses that leverage it[3].

            If you’re a heavy user of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, you’ll know that it’s pretty hard to stop once you get started on a binge-watching session.

            In fact, video marketing is seeing a non-stop rise in popularity and effectiveness when used in conjunction with social media to drive traffic and boost conversions[4]. According to research, by 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content[5]. With video marketing becoming more ubiquitous, businesses that fail to leverage the power of video are almost certain to lose out.

            How to Develop This Skill

            Some ways to get started with using videos for your business would be:

            • Creating a series of educational videos that cover useful information for your audiences
            • Live videos interacting with your community at large (these can be shot on your smart phone)
            • Using videos on landing pages to boost your customer conversions

            4. Benchmarking Personal Goals to Business Performance

            As far as you get into achieving endeavours on your business bucket list, it’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur is just one facet of your identity. Don’t forget why you started in the first place.

            Ambition usually stems from some lifestyle goals you’ve always wanted for yourself and the people you might be providing for today or in the future. Working 24/7 is a surefire route to burnout and may manifest in an unhealthy interaction between partners and employees as well.

            How to Develop This Skill

            Money can’t be your only motivation, but look into the positives of how having more financial freedom and time can impact your life. In the short term, involving your interests in your businesses can make everyday tasks feel less like mundane errands. In the long run, your business may also bring you fruitful rewards, including personal fulfilment.

            Set realistic income goals to manage expectations for your performance and your company’s revenue, especially during its earlier stages. See how projected growth can align with your personal goals and make adjustments accordingly to maintain a balance between growth and your personal values.

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            5. Leveraging Healthy Competition

            Some of the best athletes who have spent their careers neck-and-neck with each other have changed the standards in their respective sports. The notion of healthy competition applies to the business world more than it may seem on the surface.

            Innovation has always been a key driver in free markets, which were intended to boost economies and provide customers with more choices. Just like the biggest sporting rivals that build on each others’ game, you can use your biggest competitors to hone your strategies.

            How to Develop This Skill

            Turn a competitive market landscape into an advantageous one by leveraging on long-established systems your business proposes an alternative to. Learn from the mistakes of predecessors once you discover their product or service loopholes.

            For example, the Dollar Shave Club’s viral video[6] became a big hit because it hit the right buttons of consumers being tired of purchasing expensive but low quality shavers from incumbent retail giants. Going in second meant they could fill a gap competitors might not even have been aware of.

            Apart from lifting off from what could have been your second-mover advantage, solidify your place with your business’ own first-mover advantage — whether you’re tapping into a new geographical region, unexplored market sector, or introducing a business model that proves more viable than others. There’s always room for improvement in business from mature markets to newly emerging ones.

            6. Honing Pitches to Investors

            Stand out in a broad mix of budding entrepreneurs by mastering the art and science behind a solid investor pitch that can determine the acceleration of growth for your business. Get comfortable talking about your ideas and receiving feedback or questions from peers, partners, and advisors before setting out to make a good impression on potential customers and eventually investors.

            The phrase “If you can’t convince them, confuse them,” will certainly never get your business funded, especially in front of seasoned venture capitalists who have seen thousands of startup pitches. You should be able to deliver a quick elevator pitch that summarizes your unique proposition and its market viability for casual meet-ups[7] because you sometimes only have a few minutes to make a good impression and move on to another meeting.

            How to Develop This Skill

            Develop your investor pitch deck by highlighting your business’ strongest points, which will vary for every funding round. Create your deck with the investors’ interests in mind, balancing technical jargon and buzzwords.

            You can also introduce your diverse team of experts, some proven traction, or the current state of the market to demonstrate profitability and the attractiveness of the opportunity to investors.

            Ensure each slide flows into the other to develop a persuasive narrative, utilizing consistent and intelligent design principles to support your content.

            7. Developing a Strong Brand Identity

            In a world of saturated content and numerous emerging businesses that offer similar service lines, developing a unique brand identity will help you cut through the noise and stand out from your competition. From aesthetics to the body of clients you’re associated with, these contribute to how you’re perceived by prospects looking to buy.

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            Evaluating your brand identity is linked to identifying your target customers, your business goals, a proposed promised land your solution achieves, and identifying values that are aligned to these components. Brand identity serves as a guide to maintaining consistency and creating an image you want your business to be associated with.

            How to Develop This Skill

            Efforts to strengthen your brand identity are closely tied to giving marketing strategies a direction. By knowing what makes your target customers tick, their values, ideals, and behavior, you will be able to elevate your business from simply being a service or product to be utilized into a projected brand customers and partners would be happy to identify with.

            8. Automating to Your Advantage

            The need for efficiency is often the general problem new businesses aim to resolve across all markets and industries. Assure that your proposed solution is more efficient than what’s readily available in the market to instill the need for it.

            Efficiency is often achieved nowadays through digitalization and new technologies. While your product or service may not necessarily be the most innovative out there, you can apply the same automation concept across your business’ daily operations.

            How to Develop This Skill

            Shorten turnaround times and conversion rates by investing in small tools for automation where you deem fit. While it may come out of your pocket in the early stages, evaluate the holistic advantages and benefits of automating certain processes. At our office, we’ve tried using collaborative apps like Workplace by Facebook, Slack, Asana and a few other popular apps to reduce human error and friction.

            9. Managing Millennials

            Your team plays an integral part in whether your business will accelerate at breakneck speeds or be dragged down by dead weight. Hence, it is imperative to be selective and strategic when choosing your team.

            In leaner small business teams, the addition of every new teammate can impact how your organization culture evolves.

            Today, learning to manage millennials has become an increasingly sought after skill as well due to the increasing proportion of them in the workforce[8]. Some brand them as strawberries that are easily bruised and others loath their need for “meaning” and wearing t-shirts to work.

            How to Develop This Skill

            Naturally, there are many misconceptions surrounding millennials, and various businesses would do well to leverage their unique skills.

            A couple of ways to manage a millennial team include:

            Encourage a Flat Team Structure With Open Communication

            Maintain clear professional lines between supervisors and subordinates but keep communication channels open to ensure no negativity festers.

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            Offer Constructive Feedback

            Baby boomers are well known for their straightforward approach to delivering feedback. Millennials, on the other hand, don’t always take feedback in a form that could be construed as deep criticism.

            Being constructive with feedback ensures that we don’t coddle millennial workers but also tell them the things they need to hear.

            10. Maintaining a Network of Connectivity

            Instead of proposing a business that’s ambitiously and entirely disruptive to the supply or process chain in a respective industry, foster connections with other companies that cater to the same target customers as long as they provide a different service.

            By creating partnerships, both you and other businesses thrive simultaneously through creative avenues for customers to utilize your products and services for a holistically improved user experience.

            Sole market disruption isn’t always the best strategy to take. Not everybody has the opportunity, bandwidth, or financial capacity to dominate and monopolize a marketplace. See your potential for integration into other businesses and services as a good opportunity for co-collaborative marketing efforts with shared campaigns, split costs, and a strengthened customer database for everyone to tap into.

            How to Develop This Skill

            Regardless of the stage your business is in, never stop looking for ways to expand your network. Keep in contact with mentors you can look to for valuable industry advice that can help you avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes. Strengthen brand awareness by attending cross-industry events and casual meet-ups to open your business to reinvention and innovation.

            As the African proverb goes:

            “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

            Collaborating will get you where you want to go quicker and gear you up for further growth.

            More Tips on How to Succeed in Business

            Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

            Reference

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