Lessons Learned From the Rise of the Tech Start-Ups in Silicon Valley

All successful business strategies are founded on certain guiding principles, like Google’s famous maxim, “You can make money without doing evil.” Whatever your line of business is, the key to long-term sustainable growth are the right principles and remaining true to them no matter what.

Even if your business is not in the technology sector, you can still profit from knowing the unspoken principles underlying the successful business strategies that continue to serve Google, Facebook, Apple, Sun, Cisco, Amazon, and the other Silicon Valley heavyweights well.

These high-tech companies weren’t always big. In fact, all of them started small. Many of them weren’t even the best or the first in their field. Yet, by the mid-1980s, they had outperformed their older; more established and better-funded counterparts in Route 128.

How did this happen?

Sociologists suspect it may have something to do with the cultural and institutional values in that part of California. The industrial systems in Silicon Valley were built on regional networks, which are more flexible, adaptable, and more dynamic than other business districts in the US, which were based on independent, autonomous mega-sized companies.

Silicon Valley vs. Route 128 Boston

In Silicon Valley, the organizational boundaries within and among companies, trade associations and learning institutions are conducive to knowledge sharing, collective learning and collaborative undertakings. Big CEOs, start-up owners, interns, and new players would meet for coffee, brainstorm ideas, and interact with one another freely.

In contrast, the Route 128 companies were super-secretive about what goes on within their organizations’ walls. Information was highly compartmentalized, similar to that of military settings. Ideas flowed in systematical, hierarchical chains. This may sound like a logical process to you, but this process actually hindered innovation- another reason why those companies didn’t survive.

The companies in Silicon Valley have implemented many successful business strategies from their start-up days up to the present time, no doubt about that.

Three of these strategies though, are consistently present in almost all companies there.

Innovate or perish, it’s as simple as that.
Innovate, otherwise you stagnate and become redundant. Remember that there will always be better, faster and cheaper ways for consumers to get something done. The good news is there are always new needs to fill, problems to solve and wants to fulfill. Your company’s job is to find those opportunities and take advantage of it.

Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail while experimenting. Failure, for the resilient, is the first step that must be taken to succeed. Embrace your failure and learn from your mistakes, and then iterate and experiment some more until you hit it right.

There wouldn’t be an iPod today if Apple allowed their failure with Newton PDA back in 1993 to hinder them.

Of course, no man is an island!
No business can survive in a vacuum. Communication should not be limited to a one-way, or even just a two-way street. The digital age we’re in requires leaders and company front-liners to have excellent, business communication skills. This means having the ability to sell the company’s vision with colleagues, customers, and investors regardless of the person’s role and position in the company.

Listen to what the public, the staff, and stakeholders in your business have to say. Share your ideas and get their feedback. Most Silicon Valley software makers release free beta versions of their next products, which anyone can try out, comment on and even retool, and improve. Emulate the practice and chances are you will be learning something new to improve your product or service. You will also be earning a lot of respect and goodwill.

You may even forge lasting authentic relationships, which is much better than the I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine networking arrangements typical among many commercial establishments and professionals.

Pay it forward
Lastly, helping others is its own reward. Organizations with successful business strategies that incorporate social responsibility will earn the respect of their community.

© 2013 Incedo Group, LLC

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