Need advice for your business? Scour the internet and you’ll find millions of articles telling you how your firm should be run. However, most of them usually contain a generic list of tips that any outsider could create.
Advice from battle-tested entrepreneurs is different; it understands you and the dog-eat-dog world you’re living in. CEOs have been where you are now and therefore, when they give you advice, it’ll be actionable. You would actually be able to apply it in real life.
Here are 4 business values from the top 4 richest people in the world:
1. Bill Gates focused on building partnerships by finding gaps
From the very beginning, Gates had no problem playing second fiddle to some other company to achieve success. Microsoft began as a junior partner to MITS and later partnered with Digital Research.
Gates’ success is largely built on partnerships developed by finding market gaps within big organizations and the larger industry itself. When Microsoft first approached IBM, it was to act as an intermediary for a potential joint venture with Digital Research. When Digital Research backed out, he found a market gap he could build on and offered to provide software for IBM’s PC project.
In all the above-mentioned cases, Microsoft was never really the major player – but a small part of a much larger plan. Soon, they had gained enough experience working with giants that they left them far behind.
MITS and Digital Research no longer exist. IBM’s no longer making PCs but the software Microsoft provided continued to evolve and is now the world’s most-used OS.
“Our success has really been based on partnerships from the very beginning.” – Bill Gates
2. Amancio Ortega was all about speed and customer obsession
There isn’t a better rags to riches story than the journey of Amancio Ortega. The co-founder of the Inditex fashion group (which owns Zara), once used to stitch shirts.
When he launched Zara in 1975, he introduced the “fast fashion” supply system where customers were given what they wanted before anyone else. That strategy, combined with Ortega’s determination to base new looks solely on customers’ desires, means that Zara is in constant competition with no one, but itself.
The retail giant is essentially offering to fulfill your deepest fashion fantasies twice a week, but gives you only 48 hours to do so. Creating an automatically high demand for limited stock.
CNBC claims that Ortega’s fashion acumen stems from his acute observational skills. Instead of fashion shows, Zara follows customer blogs and feedback to keep the brand trendy. It works because by being customer-centric, they’re automatically fashionable.
“The customer must continue to be our main centre of attention, both in the creation of our fashion collections and in the design of our shops…” – Amancio Ortega
3. Warren Buffett on managers and micro-management
Warren Buffett is perhaps the most inspirational figure on this list. He’s inspired a host of big businesses (like Microsoft) and newer ones (like AMZInsight) equally. The world’s 3rd richest man is a fervent believer in surrounding one’s self with wise people.
Buffett is primarily an investor in companies he believes will have huge future potential and growth. When he buys companies, he looks for management teams and the general human resource to be so good, that “even an idiot [could] run it.” Hiring well and managing little has been a lifelong motto for him. With so many companies under his wing, he doesn’t believe in micro-management.
Buffett is a strong believer in acquiring the best human resources and then, letting them loose. He always has full confidence in people he invests in. He gives them the freedom to run their own affairs, stepping in only occasionally to make the bigger decisions.
“Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours, and you’ll drift in that direction.” – Warren Buffett
4. Carlos Slim Helu on competition
Not much is known about billionaire investor Slim Helu (primary business is telecom), even though he was the reigning richest man from 2010 – 2013. However, there’s one statement about competition that’s relatively well-known. Carlos Slim Helu says, “Competition makes you better, always, always makes you better, even if the competitor wins.”
Inc claims that Slim’s business style has always been to embrace competition in a healthy way, instead of trying to burn down your competitors. This is especially laudable because in a country like Mexico, that isn’t exactly the norm.
Talking of his firm’s long-lasting competition with Telefónica, he said that even though your competitor may win for a month or two, you’ve to get back somehow. This “competition for the markets” is exhilarating for him and has developed in him an attitude of never giving up. It’s what makes him the man he is today.