This self-made billionaire’s journey to the top can teach us a thing or two about how to achieve business success. By Satyaki Sarkar
Currently the second richest man in the world, there are probably very few people in the world who haven’t heard of Bill Gates. The owner and founder of Microsoft, one of the world’s largest technology companies, Gates is not just an extraordinary entrepreneur, but a brilliant leader and a major philanthropist. His beginnings were quite humble and just like everyone else he had to get through the rough times to make it to the good. He actually dropped out of Harvard, and after founding Microsoft had to struggle and persevere for several years before his company achieved success. Here are some business lessons that be learned from his journey.
1. Be overly ambitious
In 1975, Gates and his programming partner Paul Allen were still trying to find a way to transform their shared hobby for computers into a full-fledged career. Gates contacted MITS, the company behind the Altair 8800 microcomputer, to tell them that they had built a BASIC interpreter for it. MITS was interested and wanted to see the software in action. But in reality, the software didn’t even exist! Gates and Allen built it in a hurry, and actually succeeded in making the sale. A month later, Gates went on to found the multi-billion dollar technology company we all know so well. His motto as an entrepreneur has always been to take on more that he could seemingly handle, which, in turn, forced him to learn the necessary skills and pushed him towards further success.
2. Pay attention to quality
With the expansion and diversification of Microsoft, the company’s roster grew to include countless other programmers and coders. However, in spite of being the CEO Gates continued to monitor, check, and if need be, even rewrite, each and every line of code that made up the company’s products. As a result of this, the quality of Microsoft’s software never fell below par, and maintained its consistency. This has been instrumental in preserving the company’s reputation and goodwill among its customers. As such, Gates’ keen dedication to maintaining the quality of products and services that his organisation offers, is something worth emulating.
3. Don’t be quick to throw in the towel
Success isn’t something that is achieved overnight. Two years after the company was launched, Microsoft 2.0 was rolled out, but the response was largely indifferent, at best, although the software it came with, namely, Excel, Word, and Aldus Pagemaker, garnered it a bit of moderate popularity. It was only after Micorsoft launched the next version of its Operating System, Microsoft 3.0, armed with a graphical operating system, that it hit jackpot. The new model was an instant favourite, and the organisation hasn’t looked back since, only rising higher and higher. In business, as well as in life, there will be challenges, the trick is to brace yourself and persevere through the difficult times to achieve success.
4. Pay attention to customers
Gates believes that the single most important factor determining his company’s success is customer satisfaction. He places a huge importance on the quality of software that Microsoft releases, and constantly works on releasing patches and updates to further address the bugs, glitches, and any other shortcomings. Besides this he also emphasises on a robust customer support forum, where all feedback is taken into consideration to further improve the organisation’s products. As a result, in spite of having made customers unhappy at some point or other, with issues like the infamous blue screen of death, Microsoft Windows continues to be the most popularly used operating system for more than two decades.
5. Learn from failures, not success
Success is something that all of us strive for, and when we achieve it there’s a massive boost to our confidence and we can’t help but feel proud of ourselves. However, Gates, on the other hand has repeatedly argued that success can actually have a detrimental effect on our productivity and future performance. He believes success goes to our heads very easily and makes us complacent, overconfident, and lazy, which can leave us incompetent and unprepared to tackle the hurdles and obstacles that might follow. Instead, Gates has consistently stressed the importance of remaining grounded and learning from failures so that one is on a path of continous self-improvement.