One of the most common misconceptions that entrepreneurs come across is that you have to start big to achieve big. We don’t know the credibility of such a statement outside the business world, but inside there are hundreds and thousands of examples that debunk such a myth with their success stories. The growth of businesses all around the world is not measured by how they started but by how they adapted and improvised to new circumstances and opportunities around them. As Richard Branson said, “A Big Business Starts Small”. The quote is not just mere words uttered by just another successful millionaire or billionaire but it reflects a whole new leaders’ mindset, discipline and attitude for entrepreneurs who are just starting.
Every bigger business or organization you see today has its own history. Most of these started as small businesses. In fact, according to a report of the World Trade Organization, 90% of the world economy is covered by small to medium-sized businesses. All these successful entrepreneurial ideas and growth you see today are a part of this percentage which were led on their right course of action by the owner and made themselves multinational companies. No brand other than Jeff Bezos’ Amazon backs our argument. The store that started 27 years ago as a simple, smart and fun way to sell books has hit the revenue of USD52.9 billion in the first quarter of 2021. The initial idea was to seek readers crowd and make selling books easier through the internet but later led a world’s biggest online retail store with millions of other products.
Throughout the course of the business and trading history all around the world, individuals, organizations, companies and many other forms of business are using different styles of management, strategies and tactics to put their name on the hall of fame from across the globe. One such renowned and widely practiced style of business management is Family Business. The term “Family Business” sometimes is mistaken for ownership of the business but in reality, it is more of a management style that defies the conventional way of running a business. At this point, You might be wondering though what does a family business has to do with starting small and going big? Stating a fact, 70% of the global GDP is covered by family-owned businesses that were once your average mom and pop stores. You can learn a lot from the CEOs and Chairman of such entrepreneurship.
From time to time, many local businesses have shown that the right thinking backed up by the right opportunities don’t need much money to fuel their success and goals. These businesses include both family and non-family businesses that are now spread across many countries making their mark at almost every corner of the world. Here are some examples of some giant corporations that once started small to make our claim real.
Sam Walton, in 1962, when he was 44 years old started a small retail store in Rogers, Arkansas. It was started as a simple retail store that offered daily life products at comparatively lower prices than any other store in town. The idea got a rapid growth in 1970. Today the Walton family owns 10,500 Walmart stores across 24 countries which are USD328 billion worth.
A company that started from a college room made it to the world’s top brand in the technology field. Michael Dell executed his idea in 1984. Due to the advancement in technology and its increasing need due to the use of the internet the company quickly became a brand. The Dell family owns a fully established international brand worth USD75.8 billion.
Albaik is well known for his fried chicken across 80 countries. Its net worth of SAR12 billion (Saudi Riyal) is equavalent to USD3.1 billion. The store was opened by Shakour Abu Ghazalah in 1974 in Jeddah, Saudia Arab as a small restaurant that used to sell halal fried chicken. Not only Albaik has extended its stores in other countries but the food chains got so popular for other meats too, such as fish.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin are the two guys in a garage who invented the world’s leading and smartest search engine. Little did the founders know that they have invented a powerful tool that was capable of changing the face of the world. A simple invention started from a garage in 1998 has hit a net worth of USD1,201 billion in 2021.
In 1999, Jack Ma along with a group of 17 friends, when failed to get a conventional 9-5 jobs came up with the idea of an eCommerce platform. The idea had competitors like Amazon right from the start but it covered a large market ignored by Amazon which was B2B and China. The exploitation of the right idea in the right marketplace has brought a value of USD109 billion to Alibaba Group as of 2021.
Shopify is a modern-day brand that was not intended to be a brand of that much magnitude. In 2006 when two friends Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake were trying to come up with a simple solution to sell skateboard gears invented Shopify, a simple solution to online shopping opportunities for both sellers and buyers. Shopify has recorded a net worth of 2.9 billion dollars, which is pretty much for small online shops.
Have you ever thought of setting up a small restaurant in your home town? A similar thought came to a man named Colonel Harland Sanders in 1930 and he opened a small restaurant that sells fried chicken in North Corbin, Kentucky. Today the brand has reached USD8.5 billion worth. KFC owns 22,621 stores in 150 countries across the world.
A brand that started from just an $800 investment. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp hired a driver for USD800 with an aim to cut the cost of transportation. Garrett Camp came up with the idea of sharing the cost with other travelers with the same destination. The idea led to Uber Technologies Inc. which has a present worth USD89 billion. The idea did not stop at transportation, later Uber also made its technology a trademark in freight transportation and food delivery.
The year 1964 witnessed the birth of the top leading brand founded by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. It started out as a shoe store that sold Japanese style shoes until it was 1971 when Nike started to innovate and develop existing products to focus on the sports niche. It has USD34.8 billion of net worth and currently operating in 170 countries.
These were some of the most inspiring and proven examples that very well explain how small ideas had a big impact on the world. Scanning through these examples more closely, you’ll find a lot to learn from both these businesses and the people behind them.
Everyone knows how to start a business but a few know what to do after it. A detailed analysis can reveal that this example has a lot in common with each other. So we have seen that smaller entrepreneurship can reach skies but question is, how exactly to make your smaller business reach unprecedented success?
The stories of a successful business can teach you lessons and answer to your problem that neither can book nor Google or any other source can answer. We all know how dynamic real-life scenarios can be. Especially in the business world, it does not matter how big or small your business is, at the end of the day it comes down to your wits, capacity and inspiration to best handle the problems.
We have previously mentioned that some of the largest businesses start as family businesses, which include Walmart and Dell. But, how do these family businesses became big businesses?
Before we jump to lessons on “How to turn your small business big?”, take look at the article written by Turkish Billionaire who has a lot to teach us both about managing a family business and how to make a business stay on the success track. Murat Ülker, is the owner of a food manufacturing company named Yildiz Holding which produces a range of food and beverage products, which is now the largest in food company in the CEEMA region (Central and Eastern Europe Middle East and Africa). The family business dates back to 1944 when Murat Ülker’s ancestors started the company by manufacturing biscuits. It was in 1972 when the company first started manufacturing chocolate and added it to their selection of products.
The evolution began after the 2000’s when the company added dairy products, baby products, soft drinks and much more in their product line. In 2007, the company acquired Belgian chocolate maker, Godiva and and expanded its business in Europe further by acquiring UK-based United Biscuits. To establish a more global structure, he merged United Biscuit, Ulker Biscuit and DeMet’s Candy under the roof of London-based Pladis Foods. The entrepreneur has addressed underlying moral issues that can be a game-changer for anyone who is looking forward to starting a family business, a sole proprietorship or an individual business.
Without further delay, here are the 4 pillars that senior experiences of different businessmen showed worthy to consider and apply in order to reach your goal.
Let’s take a moment and look back at these examples again. The most prominent feature these all examples had in common was innovation and the growth of ideas. All these ideas that were generated fulfilled a gap which in human nature is called “need”. Whether planned or accidental, all the successful businesses today were based on some kind of market gap that they filled. They provided an innovative solution to an already existing problem around them. The CEOs of such companies keep on evolving their thinking process and skills.
For an entrepreneur, it is important to look at things from an angle that others don’t see. If you are looking for a business opportunity, what is a better option for you other than a business that offers real-time value to your community in return for their money? Always keep your eyes open and be observational to look where new things are need and what can you do to fulfill the gap. A pro-tip for finding a gate to new opportunities is that you forget that you are trying to make money for a while and only focus on the problem and its best solution. Only then you can come up with the idea.
As Muslims, Islam not only teaches us but compel us to help people around us. Be if or financial returns or spiritual return helping your brother and sisters were appreciated and rewarded by Allah (SWT). One of the reasons Islam promotes innovation is to keep Muslims in the race with all their competitors and to be helpful to their own people. Simply be a knowledgeable person who provides more than he takes, the principle profits in both worldly and spiritual matters.
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The step is quite simple and yet plays a key role in the future of the business. Imagine this! After looking at a local market in your town, you realize that the community around you need a good fashion brand that sells quality dresses that are of Islamic standard but more fashionable than the existing ones in the market. You work on your project to come up with a new clothing line and brand of your own. So, What is the right time and place to let people know that you’ve got what they need?
Your brand is much likely to be successful if you open a shop in one of the busiest markets and time of an Islamic event like Eid or the start of a season when people are actually looking for new clothes.
Once you figure out what is the need, your next step is to find out when it and where it is needed. Land your product in the market when there’s a demand for it. The closer your product or service reaches people the more likely it is to make its mark. Have the foresight to identify and fulfil future needs and gaps. Don’t just focus on your products and service, the right strategies are also a part of your bigger picture. To build and run a successful business, formulate strategies in accordance with time and trends. Always try to come up with plans and strategies that offer flexibility depending upon the present time and opportunities and allow you to diversify and adapt in order to make up to the new challenges.
A Muslim, regardless of being a businessman or a common man living in the streets, has been instructed to stay persistent and patient by Allah (SWT) during his path. Our Holy Quran, the book of ultimate wisdom, is filled with stories of past nations and individuals who stood their ground with their trust in Allah (SWT). Every being created by God has to come across hurdles and problems at some point in their lives. The Quran says this done to make a man’s relationship stronger with himself and his creator.
Starting and maintaining a business is a commitment, not a job. You come across some scenarios that seem impossible to get over, but in reality it is a test of your dedication to your passion. Many successful businesses met their hard times in past which seem to be their inevitable dead-end, but management continuous efforts eventually took over the control and made it big. One perfect example that you can see today is a trillion-dollar company, “Apple” which hold larger shares than any other similar tech company in the market. There were times when Steve Jobs himself was expelled from the company for not being helpful in the company’s matters. He kept on believing and advancing towards his vision and mission that he once had for the company, to make Apple a remarkable trademark.
Allah (SWT) loves the one who practices and demonstrates patience through his or her actions. Patience plays a key role in determining your ability to push the roadblocks ahead of your inspiring journey. Quran also teaches us the power and importance of patience in one’s life. The best patience was practised by our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) throughout His (SAW) life. He is considered the embodiment of patience in Islam. One big example of patience he demonstrated was in Ta’if where even after being hit by stones. He (SAW) only prayed for their well being and Hidayah (divine guidance). For a businessman who is young and inexperienced, patience is the only tool that can help him lift his business off the ground.
If one that thing that Muslim businessmen have the advantage over the other, it’s the Divine Force and His blessings. As Muslims, our belief is that our success and failure comes from Allah Almighty. It’s His decisions whom He wants to grant success and whom to not. Humans have been given control over their efforts and determination while Allah (SWT) keep control over circumstance and ultimate results.
The best business strategy to tackle the up and downs of your business is to keep working for what you believe in leave the rest to Allah (SWT) with a pure heart knowing that His (SWT) plan is the ultimate best plan for you. Having a faith in God’s ways leads to satisfaction and motivation that makes a man unshakable no matter what the circumstances are. When you hit your lowest while trying your best, Allah (SWT) promises to give such a man everything he wanted or even better but not less. Islam teaches us that no effort of a human for a greater cause goes in vain.
The more you know about the world and its circumstances, the clear the idea of God’s power becomes to you. A business of no matter what magnitude has to hit its bottom sooner or later. This can happen due to many reasons, market trends, natural calamities, contact innovation in industry or any reason far beyond your control and imagination. This where the trust in Allah (SWT) comes to fuel you and remind you for what purpose you started this venture in the first place. You can have peace of mind amidst the chaos around you if you really believe that the most compassionate and loving force is watching over you and He (SWT) won’t let you down anyway.
Ali Haider Shah is a business graduate with specialization in market research. He holds 4 years of experience in business writing where he served renowned online publications like “Digital Diplomacy”. Currently working as a business writer and a market researcher.
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