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Startup Success: What Can You Learn From Big Business?

Starting your own business is incredibly exciting but it can also be extremely daunting. 

Having confidence in your product is imperative but that alone won’t ensure your business is a success. There are in fact many elements that need to come together to help you achieve your goals of becoming a bigger business. 

You may feel like you need a mentor, someone who has been where you are and learnt a few lessons along the way; someone you can turn to who can offer advice and guidance. 

Perhaps those businesses that are already classed as big would be a good place to start. Don’t forget, these are companies who were once as small as you are and now dominate the market. They are companies that you instantly recognise from their logo alone – companies that you aspire to be.

This could mean looking at how brands within your market generate traffic or how an unrelated brand has established a tone of voice. While it’s helpful to check out the competition and take tips from them, businesses that are far removed from your product or service can be equally, if not more, helpful. 

It goes without saying that these big businesses are doing something right. They wouldn’t be where they are otherwise but even the most established companies make mistakes. This means you can look to these companies to learn what to do and perhaps – more importantly – what not to do… 

Let’s take Apple, for example, one of the most successful businesses of all time. It has made so much money that it’s bigger than Hong Kong in terms of GDP. 

Industry Analyst, Tim Bajarin, has followed Apple since 1981 and explained in TIME six reasons why they’re so successful: 

  1. For any product Apple creates, the people who create it have to want it themselves
  2. The products have to be easy to use 
  3. Keep things simple 
  4. Offer great customer service and in-store experience 
  5. Apple only make a product if Apple can do it better 
  6. Apple stays at least two years ahead of its competitors.   

It’s easy to over-think it but a key takeaway from Apple is that easy and simple is best.

Likewise, marketing is vital to business success – if no-one knows you exist, how can they buy your product or use your service? But it also plays a huge role in how customers – and potential customers – perceive your business. 

Big brands can spend months – and millions – on a marketing campaign which does the opposite of what they planned. Dove, for example, caused anger twice last year when their messages weren’t perceived in the way they intended them to be.  

Meanwhile, Oreo seized an opportunity during a blackout at the Super Bowl when they tweeted that ‘you can still dunk in the dark.’ This was such a simple idea but it actually received a better payoff than their official ad. 

Being aware of the mistakes made by big businesses means you won’t make the same ones while you can take inspiration from knowing what has worked for them. 


This article was produced by Chelsea Ellsworth, an experienced and enthusiastic freelance writer who has written for a variety of online publications and magazines.

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