Originally posted on 2 Jan 2014

The world’s most valuable company, Apple, started out in the back of Steve Jobs’ parent’s garage. Likewise Hewlett Packard also started out in a garage.

There are several other examples:        

 Bezos Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1994 as an online bookstore. It was completely run out of his garage and now it’s the world’s largest online retailer.
 Jobs In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, started Apple Computers Today, Apple is the most valuable technology company in the world.
Disney There’s a house in Los Angeles where The Walt Disney Company got its start.In 1923, the house belonged to Walt Disney’s uncle, Robert Disney.
 PageBridges Stanford Graduate students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google in Susan Wojcicki’s garage in September 1998.
 Harly In 1901, William S. Harley drew up plans to create a small engine to power a bicycle.Harley and his friend, Arthur Davidson, built their motor-bicycle out of their friend’s 10 by 15-foot wooden shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They officially founded Harley-Davidson in 1903 and today it’s the most well-known motorcycle brand in the world.
gates and allen In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft, with just a few resources and in some available garage space. Working with IBM, the company licensed their first OS for only $80,000. Later, they would go on to develop more sophisticated operating systems that would evolve into those we know as Windows today. The business would grow to be one of the most profitable and powerful in the world, dominating the personal computing market.
Hewlett and packard In 1939, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded Hewlett Packard in Dave Packard’s garage with an initial investment of $538. The HP Garage in Palo Alto, California is known as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.
Dell Michael Dell started Dell in room 2713 at The University of Texas. As a start-up, he ran his informal business, building and selling custom-ordered personal computers. By selling directly to the customer, he cut out the middleman and kept prices lower than his competition. By 1985, the 19-year-old dropped out of school and moved his business to an office centre in North Austin purchased with profits he made. Today, Dell is one of the largest tech companies in the world.
Anthony In 1948, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman started Lotus Cars by building the first Lotus racing car in stables behind The Railway Hotel in Hornsey, North London. Today Lotus Cars is one of the leading racing car manufacturers in the world.
Matson Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot Handler founded Mattel in a garage in Southern California initially as a picture frame company in 1945. To get the most out of their materials, they started using picture frame scrapes to create dollhouses.Today Mattel, Inc. is the highest-grossing toy company in the world.
 yankee In 1969, Michael Kittredge made scented candles in his garage out of melted crayons as a gift for his mother. Soon he started mass-producing them and the Yankee Candle Company was born and is now the largest manufacturer of scented candles in the US.

I’m not suggesting that to succeed, a small business needs to start in the back of a garage or in stables behind the local hotel. Any small business could succeed with the right product, the right customers, the right focus and with the owner spending enough time paying attention to what his/her customers actually need: something that can only be done by spending enough time working ON the business rather than 100% of the time working IN it.

It’s not just taking on board the latest ideas but being brave enough to be different. Maybe Vivian Greene was right when she wrote: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It is about learning to dance in the rain. All of the entrepreneurs listed above faced adversity. It wasn’t easy for any of them. But armed with belief and focus, they all succeeded.

Martin Pollins
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