Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, accounting for over 99% of all businesses in the United States. While many small businesses fail, many succeed as well. Here are two examples of just that:
Arianna Huffington: The Huffington Post
Arianna Huffington is a Greek-American author, syndicated columnist, and businesswoman. She is the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, a news and opinion website that was acquired by AOL in 2011 for $315 million — you might have heard of it. Huffington is also the founder of Thrive Global, a company that provides well-being programs for individuals and organizations.
Huffington’s journey to success began in 1994, when she co-founded the website The Greek Reporter. The website was a success, and Huffington soon realized that she wanted to create a news and opinion medium that would be different from the traditional media outlets. In 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, which quickly became one of the most popular news websites in the world.
The Huffington Post was a success for several reasons. First, don’t discount talent; Huffington was a talented writer and editor who was able to attract a large audience of readers. Second, the website was well-designed and easy to use. Third, the website covered a wide range of topics, including politics, business, entertainment, and culture — netting a wide audience.
Knowing when to sell
In 2011, The Huffington Post was acquired by AOL for $315 million. The acquisition was not only profitable, but Huffington stayed on committed to her work at The Huffington Post. She continued to serve as editor-in-chief until 2016, when she stepped down to focus on Thrive Global.
Eric Yuan: Zoom
Eric Yuan is a Chinese-American entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Zoom Video Communications, a video conferencing company — you may have heard of it. Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing platforms in the world, and it has been used by millions of people — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic — regrettably, you also heard of it.
Yuan’s journey to success began in 1997, when he co-founded a company called WebEx. WebEx was a pioneer in the video conferencing industry, and it was acquired by Cisco Systems in 2007 for $3.2 billion.
After leaving WebEx, Yuan founded Zoom in 2011. Zoom was initially slow to gain traction, but it began to grow rapidly in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated Zoom’s growth, as millions of people began using the platform to work from home.
Zoom’s success is due to several factors. First, the platform is easy to use and it offers high-quality video and audio. Second, Zoom is affordable, and it offers a freemium pricing model. Third, Zoom has a strong marketing team that has been able to reach a large audience.
In 2020, Zoom went public and raised $3.8 billion in its initial public offering. The company is now valued at over $100 billion.
Other Startup Success Stories
- Warby Parker is an online eyewear company that was founded in 2010. The company offers high-quality eyewear at a fraction of the cost of traditional retailers. Warby Parker has been praised for its innovative business model and its commitment to social responsibility.
- Dropbox is a file-sharing service that was founded in 2007. The company has over 600 million users worldwide. Dropbox has been praised for its ease of use and its security features.
- Airbnb is a home-sharing service that was founded in 2008. The company has over 6 million listings worldwide. Airbnb has been praised for its convenience and its affordability.
- Square is a payments processing company that was founded in 2009. The company has over 3 million merchants worldwide. Square has been praised for its ease of use and its low fees.
- Shopify is an e-commerce platform that was founded in 2006. The company has over 1 million merchants worldwide. Shopify has been praised for its ease of use and its scalability.
Tips for Small Business Success
If you are thinking about starting your own business, here are a few tips that may help you achieve success:
- Do your research
Before you start your business, research and understand the industry you are entering. This includes understanding the market, the competition, and the regulatory environment.
- Have a strong business plan
A business plan is a roadmap for your business. It should include your goals, strategies, and financial projections.
- Be prepared to work hard
You’ve only have two options. Moonlight as a small business during your off-hours from your current job or go all in which may mean working non-stop to get it going.
- Be persistent
There will be setbacks along the way and you may need to compromise certain aspects of your product or service, but that’s how you mold soft metal into steel.
- Find a niche
Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, focus on a specific market or niche. This will help you to target your marketing efforts and to build a loyal customer base. While it’s better if you know your audience, you can also see who’s investing in your product, and lean into what works.
- Offer something unique
What makes your business different from the competition? What value do you offer that no one else does? Make sure that your customers know what makes you special.
- Provide excellent customer service
This is one of the most important things you can do to build a successful business. Make sure that your customers are happy with their experience, and they will be more likely to do business with you again.
Starting a business starts is hard work, but tenacity pays dividends.