Monday, October 3, 2011

Wildly Successful Companies That Decided NOT To Do Everything

We have highlighted virtues of focus in the last couple of posts. The decision NOT to pursue something is the most important decision small business owners will make to be successful. You can use the framework described in the previous post to get better understanding of how to apply this principle in everyday decisions.

In this post we want to show examples of companies that have used this principle and have become wildly successful. They are the companies whose products we use every day. After studying their business model and decision making we have come to appreciate the way they go about doing their business. Here they are:

  • Apple – No discussion about focused effort is complete without the mention of Apple. This company, and its CEO Steve Jobs, is famous for saying NO more often than saying YES. They not only have introduced some of the best and most admired products of this century, but have become the most valuable company in the U.S. by doing so. The secret to their success is culture of saying NO to many of the ideas, products and features, and focusing their effort and investment on few products. If you want to learn how to focus your efforts study how Apple does it.
  • Pixar – This is another company started by Steve Jobs prior to his return to Apple. Pixar is famous for coming up with hit animation movies we all love – Toy Story, Monsters, Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and so on. They have not produced a single movie that has not been a blockbuster. Again, their secret is to not pursue every idea they have, but instead do only one movie every 1-2 years. Compare that to other studios that churn out large number of movies in year, majority of which are duds.
  • Facebook – In the previous post we mentioned that you have to limit the amount of activities or projects to focus your effort the few. We all know how successful Facebook is today. When it was started by Mark Zuckerburg in the Harvard dorm room it was just a hobby for him. He eventually left Harvard and a promising career without finishing the degree to devote full attention to Facebook. By saying NO to college and focusing his effort on one thing he was able to bring Facebook to the stage it is in today.
  • Abercrombie and Fitch – Here is a company that knows who it wants to sell its clothes to and does it very well. They know their target audience of teens and focus their marketing effort to create an image that lures the customers to their stores. They are able to charge premium prices for their clothes, in turn keeping very high profit margin. If you want to understand how to target your customer base and marketing Abercrombie and Fitch is the way to go.
  • Little Caesar's – Those who live in the areas served by Little Caesar's know their slogan – Pizza, Pizza. As you know the pizza business is highly competitive and it is very difficult to differentiate one company from another. However, Little Caesar's has carved out a niche by offering large pizza for $5 and maintaining that price for number of years. This is a great example of how to focus on one idea and package it with the right product, marketing, pricing and target customer base.

You may have come across other companies that have been able to say NO and harness the power of focus to be successful. If so, let us know in the comments.

Thanks to Angel Business Advisors Inc.

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