In 1992, at the age of 27, Michael Dell, of Dell Computers, became the youngest CEO to have his company ranked in the Forbes Top 500 Companies. News articles of the day called him an “overnight success” and declared that he had achieved “explosive” growth. Since that time, he has gone on to create the world’s largest PC manufacturing company in the world.
Starting the company from his dorm room in 1984, founder and chief executive Michael Dell has experienced the various highs and lows of entrepreneurship, and we take a look at some of the key insights managers and bosses can learn from the Texan.
Here are 8 Success lessons from Michael Dell – “Dell Computers Founder and Billionaire” for entrepreneurs,
1. Be strategic
Dell advises small business owners to frequently determine their “point of impact”, by asking bosses to work out what specific direction the company needs to take to meet business objectives and how they, personally, can make the biggest impact – a substantial challenge as an organisation expands.
“When I had a small amount of employees I was doing everything,” he said. ”But now I have thousands, I am completely focused on strategy.”
2. Embrace risk like a startup
During an interview at his former University, the Texan, who calls Dell the “biggest start-up in the world”, revealed his intentions to restore a “start-up culture” to their organisations by encouraging and prompting new ideas and solutions to expand their business.
“The idea here is that you want to embrace risk,” Dell said. “You want to embrace risk and not be afraid. Big companies, as they grow, tend to not want to take on risk.”
3. Learn from mistakes
In an interview with Dean Thomas Gilligan as part of the VIP Distinguished Speaker Series in 2009, Dell pointed to how people react to mistakes as a key part of the development of a great leader.
Admitting that his corporation has gone through tough times during his tenure, Dell said the best leaders assess and identify their mistakes quickly and work to transform those faults into an opportunity to improve their people, products and services.
4. Surround yourself with the best people
Whether it be employees, investors, partners, suppliers or any other business relationship, Dell advises executives and entrepreneurs to be around the best possible people to help develop an organisation.
These smart people will challenge organisations and force them to think differently.
In 2003, Dell said: “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room.”
5. Develop a customer-focused philosophy
Dell’s philosophy is that, “We’ll listen, and we’ll respond…It’s about the customer. It’s that simple.” From day one, Dell has built his company up on the premise that what the customer says, goes. When he first started Dell Computer at the age of 19 in his University of Texas dorm room, Dell says his concept was simple: buy parts, assemble them, and sell the finished products directly to customers. He effectively eliminated big distributors and was able to reduce the end price he could charge.
Dell claims that his company operates on a relatively simple concept: “The most important thing is to satisfy our customers,” he says.
6. Build byte by byte
“I’ve learned from experience that a company can grow too fast,” says Dell. “You have to be careful about expanding into new businesses because if you get into too many too quickly, you won’t have the experience or the infrastructure to succeed.”
It is said that there are two basic types of entrepreneurs. There is the roving deal junkie, who engages in a never-ending search for new deals and markets. Then, there is the methodical optimizer, who takes one good idea and works it to death. “I’m not a deal junkie,” says Dell. It is this quality that is perhaps the secret of Dell’s success.
7. Cultivate relationships
“There’s no such thing as a self-made success,” Michael Dell said. The best opportunity you have to grow your small business is by widening your network. He adds that he had enjoyed some great fortune, but none of it would have happened without the people who shared their wisdom, the hard work of the Dell team worldwide, and the love and support of his family and friends.
8. Think big
In college, Michael Dell said he wanted to “beat IBM.” While you may not desire to take your small business to such heights, be sure not to limit what you might achieve. Dell began his operations in Room 2713 at the University of Texas 31 years ago, and grew his enterprise into a $50 billion global business with more than 100,000 employees.