“Believe in what you are doing. If you’ve got an idea that’s really powerful, you’ve just got to ignore the people who tell you it won’t work, and hire people who embrace your vision.”
Michael Dell’s first business venture, at 12 years old, arose from his hobby of philately. He had bought stamps at auction and realized that stamp sellers made good money, so got together a catalog of his and his friends’ stamps and sold them via mail order. He made $2,000. This effort at cutting out the middleman and selling direct was a taste of things to come.
Germination of a business
What Dell also realized was that anyone could buy these components and make their own machine. Furthermore, the person who sold you a computer in a store generally didn’t know much about the technology.
Michael Dell’s lessons for success
1. Think unconventionally
Plenty of people told Dell that his direct approach to selling computers would never work on a large scale. “It’s fun to do things that people don’t think are possible or likely,” he says. Consequently, questioning conventional wisdom became a basic element of the culture of the firm.
2. Despise the status quo
Dell staff are told to think like entrepreneurs or as if they are owners of Dell. They are much more likely to take risks. He tells staff: “There’s no risk in preserving the status quo, but there’s no profit, either.”
3. Set big goals that may just be do-able
At the end of 1986 the company set a goal to achieve $1 billion in sales by 1992 and to expand internationally. By 1992 it was doing twice this. Setting a large goal makes you think about how you will achieve it.
4. Love change
“Being on the cover of Fortune doesn’t guarantee you anything,” Dell says. In the computer industry no one can rest on their laurels; you need a climate of perpetual change and to be a voracious learner to foresee what is happening and provide for it.
Dell even surfs the web after his kids have gone to sleep to see what people in chat rooms are saying about the company.
5. Focus on your possibilities, not your competitors
A simple tip, easily forgotten in the stress of the business arena, but one that assists in reaching creative solutions. Don’t act from fear; measure yourself not by others but by an absolute standard of excellence.
In a nutshell
The simplest, most uncomplicated way is often the most successful.