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What are the secrets of today’s billion-dollar companies?

What strategies have they devised to become so powerful?

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know I dislike talking about “tricks” and “secrets” because neither really exist.

Let’s leave tricks and secrets to false trainers who sell business courses for thousands of euros.

The truth is, there are common-sense actions that contribute to the global success of any company targeting consumers willing to spend money on what they offer.

These are actions that modern billionaires consistently talk about in their interviews, and I’ve compiled them in this blog post, which is free for you, just like everything else on my blog.

Follow along, take notes, and get ready to adapt these concepts to your own business.

The Key Success Elements of Big Companies

Starting and managing a business isn’t something you do on a whim.

Maybe you’ve heard about those rare cases of American entrepreneurs who started from nothing and became billionaires, and you thought, “Well, if they can do it, so can I!”

Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sergey Brin…

All entrepreneurs who founded billion-dollar companies from scratch.

Sure, anyone can do it… in theory.

I don’t want to dampen enthusiasm, but the real world is different from the fairy tales web gurus tell us – stories aimed only at selling us scam courses.

In business, as in life, you need to know the rules to play and win.

Starting a company from scratch without knowing the business rules perfectly is like trying to reach New York by ship from Lisbon without a compass.

You can sail endlessly without ever seeing a shred of land because you don’t know where you’re going.

In business, it’s exactly the same.

You need knowledge to start a company and make it successful.

You need to know how to sell, surround yourself with talented people, have good organizational skills, be growth-oriented, and develop leadership.

But above all, you’ll need to develop a smart business model, one that leverages data and technology to navigate the market with awareness and agility.

It’s demanding, very much so, but not impossible.

And yes, you can do it too, with the help of my blog.

So, the million-dollar question: How do you start a successful business (or how do you renew an existing business to revive it and make it successful)?

A great way is to look at those who have already achieved success and then analyze the behaviors and components shared by all the world’s biggest companies.

If we examine what Google, Amazon, Facebook (now Meta), Microsoft, Apple, and all the other familiar big companies have in common, three elements always stand out.

If we want our business to thrive, we must shape it to embrace these three elements.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you’ll achieve the fame and wealth of Facebook, Google, or Netflix.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in business and marketing.

I’m not promising the moon here; I want to be clear from the start; this blog is serious business.

I’m just suggesting that starting a business or modifying an existing one to embrace these three elements I’ll talk about shortly – along with the consistent application of marketing principles I’ll teach you in this blog – can ensure a good level of success as an entrepreneur.

So no guarantee of making billions with your company, but of putting you on the right path to potentially do so.

Let’s dive into the heart of this blog post and see these three elements that have contributed to the success of the world’s most important companies.

First Element: Launching an Evergreen Business

In terms of importance, the first characteristic of a profitable business is being “evergreen.”

What does that mean?

Let’s start with the premise that a business makes sense when it solves the problems of a large number of people or satisfies their desires.

If a business exists just because the owner was tired of being an employee and wants to start their own business to avoid having bosses, it’s a business destined to fail.

So, a success-oriented company must sell products or services that solve problems (or satisfy desires) that people have had since ancient times and will likely have forever.

These perennial problems and desires fall into three main categories: money, health, and relationships, which I have already discussed in the blog post How to Find Your Niche.”

People will always aim to earn more money, improve their relationships, and maintain good health.

It’s a formula for happiness; having money, satisfying relationships, and good health generally equals being a happy person.

And let’s face it, everyone on this planet, as far as I know, is constantly pursuing their own happiness.

It follows that it would be very wrong and not at all strategic to build a business tied to fleeting trends, passing fads, or temporary problems that could change overnight.

Concrete examples of this mistake were the numerous companies opened during the pandemic that aimed to solve problems related to travel restrictions imposed by the government and then failed or heavily downsized when the world fortunately returned to normal.

A famous example is Gorillas, a fast grocery delivery company that had to significantly reduce its staff and close operations in several countries after the initial boom during the pandemic.

Second Element: Global Expansion

Working to make ends meet and provide for your family is great, of course, but I hope you aim to change the world.

How do you change the world?

By improving the planet alongside considering its people.

So, as the second rule, whatever your product or service is, you should think of it as accessible and available worldwide, 24/7.

Even when you sleep and are not physically present in your office, shop, production facility, or wherever your business operates.

Let’s take any product like Coca-Cola for example.

Despite being pure poison for our bodies and its plastic bottles polluting the planet, violating all ethical principles for which I opened this blog, Coca-Cola is an excellent example of a product available worldwide and always accessible.

It is sold in every corner of the world.

On the other hand, think of professions like lawyers, notaries, dentists, doctors, or real estate agents.

They are undoubtedly excellent professions that truly help their clients, but they are too localized and tied to local trends.

For example, if the real estate market in a particular area slows down, local real estate agents will suffer significant financial losses.

If from tomorrow Forte dei Marmi were no longer used as a summer destination for Italy’s wealthiest people, Forte dei Marmi agencies would close within two days.

Therefore, if you want to simultaneously succeed and have a significant impact on making the world a better place, you have no choice but to make your business globally accessible.

How do you do it?

By reinventing your business idea.

Instead of simply opening a single legal office, create a global chain of legal offices with a unique concept that sets you apart from the competition.

Naturally, you will start with just one legal office and serve a small city area; you have to start somewhere.

But once you have established yourself and have conquered the entire city, you can start planning expansion with, for example, two more offices covering two other areas.

Then another four offices for four other areas.

Then twelve offices, and so on.

Yes, I know it’s easier said than done, but life is a wonderful journey, so be happy for the opening of each new office.

Each new center is one more step you take in climbing towards achieving your goal.

And let me tell you a fact: the pursuit of happiness is not about reaching the final goal, but about living by achieving many small goals on the way to the final goal, throughout life.

That’s how you earn real money.

And that’s how you can change the world.

It applies to everyone.

If you have a localized business like a small clothing store in the city center, dive into the world of e-commerce with Shopify and start selling your products globally.

If you are reading this blog, it means you want to grow and accelerate your business, so why limit it to just your city?

Why sell your product to 100 people when, with the Internet, we can sell it to billions?

Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Versace, Armani, Amazon, Google, and Disney, some of the largest on the planet, sell their products and services worldwide.

The McDonald's in Rovaniemi, Finland, under the snow
The McDonald’s in Rovaniemi, Finland, under the snow; considered the northernmost McDonald’s in the world.
Source: Tripdadvisor.

Today, we can easily go from Australia to the United States with a simple click.

Think big and redesign your entire business to make it available to the whole world.

Tips for Expanding Your Business and Making It Accessible Worldwide

When considering global expansion, it’s crucial to avoid the mistake of viewing the world as a uniform market, where business rules apply to all countries, neglecting cultural, economic, or political differences.

Many companies have stumbled at this point.

McDonald’s, for example – another company, like Coca-Cola, we should admire for its marketing but criticize for its highly harmful products – had to retreat quickly in Bolivia because besides its meals being priced much higher than local alternatives, it was also lacking in ethics.

Bolivians take great pride in their national identity, as then-Bolivian President Evo Morales stated, “Western fast food is causing serious harm to humanity” (source: Kuoda Travels).

So, it’s essential always to remember that we cannot enter a foreign market and act as masters; the masters are the locals, and we are guests.

We will be welcome if we behave well and offer that country a way to improve.

Otherwise, we will meet the fate of McDonald’s in Bolivia.

With that said, let me introduce these eight strategic points that can lead to a well-structured action plan, ensuring smooth business expansion across borders and beyond national environments.

To develop these strategic points, I have borrowed from the excellent blog post by Andrea Dama, an Italian business consultant known for his experience and expertise.

1. Analyze Historical Economic and Political Stability

In many foreign countries, markets often experience sudden or cyclical changes that can increase risks or limit opportunities.

It’s helpful to have emergency plans in place to reduce risks when sudden changes occur or if the market doesn’t respond well to economic shocks.

2. Assess Local Transportation, Energy, and Financial Services

These factors could impact customer value propositions or operational costs in a particular region.

It may be necessary to adapt the business model to local characteristics.

For example, eliminating free shipping or integrating a tailored support contract might be necessary.

3. Consider Costs and Exchange Rate Fluctuations

Successful companies have learned to fix interest rates, carefully manage credits, and rely on financial organizations capable of handling local transactions.

Evaluating exchange rates is particularly relevant in negotiating local contracts.

4. Consider Local Partnerships

One of the best ways to grow and expand into an unknown market is to join forces with a local company of similar size already operating in the area of interest.

Don’t forget to assess competition for cooperation/competition options that could be advantageous for both parties.

5. Don’t Draw Global Conclusions from Local Market Experience

Global expansion doesn’t simply mean scaling local successes worldwide.

Test each market with controlled experiments before each new launch.

This might require staying grounded when dealing with foreign markets lacking data.

This is exactly what McDonald’s didn’t do in Bolivia, as I told you earlier.

6. Engage in Launch Strategy Building with Local Experts

The last thing you want is to correct initial mistakes and rebuild a damaged reputation.

Uber and Airbnb faced local barriers and labor laws.

Although foreign consultancy might be costly, the investment is worth the chance to avoid sanctions.

7. Adapt to Local Culture, Traditions, and Ethics

Local culture not only influences business decisions but also how customers perceive a company.

Poor adaptation could be costly and embarrassing.

It’s advisable to hire local staff for administration.

8. Embrace Challenges and Learning Opportunities

International expansion can be a great opportunity for learning, traveling, and having fun.

Challenges are ever-evolving and stem from social interaction, economic changes, and political dynamics.

Third Element: Related Product Offer

To succeed in business, it’s crucial not only to provide basic products and services but also to anticipate and meet customers’ needs with additional solutions.

Essentially, you need to expand your product line whenever possible by offering continuous upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Al Ries disagrees on this point, but I’ve already shown how Al Ries can be confusing, and many of his teachings and predictions, in complete contrast to Philip Kotler (the true father of marketing), have all been proven wrong.

Expanding the line of related products is not a mistake but one of the key principles – the third, in order of importance as I’ve shown you in this blog post – of the world’s largest companies.

If big companies took lessons from Al Ries, Microsoft wouldn’t have created the incredibly useful Office because it would have stopped at the Windows operating system.

McDonald’s wouldn’t have extended its line with vegetarian products, and according to revenue data from Wikipedia, I’d say it’s not true that by extending its product line, it lost money, quite the opposite.

Once again, good old Al Ries didn’t get it right, not even by accident.

Let’s get back to reality.

When starting a business, it’s important to think about expanding the offering to provide a complete package that meets customers’ needs without forcing them to turn to multiple companies.

Let me share my example from when I worked as a real estate agent.

Whenever a client of mine bought a property, there was always the need to renovate and redesign it to their liking.

But along with this need came a fairly significant problem: dealing with the hassle of contacting various construction companies to get quotes and choose the best option in terms of quality and price.

So, inspired by the experience of a major real estate agency in New York, Douglas Elliman, I decided to establish a fruitful collaboration with a local construction company, whose owner had done some work for me at home and with whom I had a great experience, so I could vouch for his moral integrity and work ethics.

The luxurious homepage of the New York-based real estate agency, Douglas Elliman
The luxurious homepage of the New York-based real estate agency, Douglas Elliman.
Source: Douglas Elliman.

Thanks to this collaboration, my clients were able to directly access the renovation services offered by my construction company, avoiding the hassle of comparing quotes from different sources, and also saving a lot of money (the construction company had an extraordinary offer for home renovation if the client had purchased with me).

This strategy not only simplified the process for clients but also strengthened their trust in me as a real estate agent.

Offering a complete service allowed me to strengthen relationships with clients and differentiate myself from the competition, thus fostering the growth and reputation of my business.

So please don’t listen to Al Ries.

It may take time to figure out which products could complement your offer, but as soon as the opportunity arises, expand your entire line and strive, with your offerings, to make your customers’ lives easier and easier.

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