Success Stories: Business Moves that Paid Off and Where You Can Start
You’ll have heard an awful lot of success stories in your time: from the brilliant mind of a 22-year-old that sold his kick-starter creation – Oculus Rift – to Mark Zuckerberg for $2 billion, to the formidable force of two college dropouts, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, who created Apple. But, are there any smaller businesses you can learn from, and if so, where can you start? Well, take these three examples below…
REI: Don’t follow the crowd
We’re told not to follow the crowd as children, and it is advice that can come in handy when making astute business decisions too. Recreational Equipment Inc (REI) sells outdoor clothing and equipment in America (a country where ‘Black Friday’ sales accounted for $3.34 billion spent on a single day in 2016), but, incredibly, REI chose not to offer a single discount to customers.
Hijacking the day, they made headlines by encouraging their customers to #OptOutside instead – they shut down their stores and paid their employees for time off on a day that would otherwise have been their biggest sale day of the year. This was a smart move: it earned then more than a million endorsements through social media, generated excellent PR coverage and goodwill among the public and employees, and web traffic spiked on Thanksgiving.
Pull it off: if you’re opting out of a major sales day or event, communicate why. Get your customers on board with this small act of rebellion, create a hashtag or a place to talk about it online, and double check that it ties in with your company values – it worked for REI because their brand promotes getting outdoors to enjoy nature rather than spending your time inside, scrolling through online sales. Consider whether it makes sense for you to the do the same.
Graze: Venture into unknown territory
Setting up a business is a leap into the great unknown at the best of times, but how about moving it to brand new territory at the same time? That’s a business move that Graze made, expanding to America after initial success in the UK. The risk paid off, with Graze taking advantage of the huge market, enhanced profits and a brand new customer base (seeing more than 100,000 new customers in the first three months alone).
Pull it off: Do a great deal of research. You’ll need to be committed to planning, operations and strategy, and you should probably talk to a company who can help you with trading in America to make sure you’re going about it in the right way. The American market is a huge pull for businesses from all over the world, but even the biggest businesses can fail when they land state-side, so you’ll need gusto and guts.
Spanx: Figure it out along the way
You’ll have been told time and time again to stick to what you know. And while that can make doing business feel more comfortable, it doesn’t always pay off as well as pursuing something you know very little about. Take Sara Blakely for example – she admitted that she knew nothing about tights (pantyhose) or running a business, but that didn’t deter her from building one of the most successful shapewear brands in the world and becoming the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. She believed that she had identified a gap in the market because she didn’t like the products available at the time and believed she could offer something better – and that was enough.
Pull it off: This kind of story tends to be anomalous, but it doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen to you. If you have a real frustration with a product or service we’re generally accustomed to using but believe you can make it so much better, pursue it – even if you don’t know a great deal about creating the product yourself or running a business.
Those are just a handful of examples of business moves that paid off, and a few tips on where you can start if you fancy following in their footsteps.
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