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Computing Success: How Dell Came Out On Top
Dell transformed a dorm room venture into one of the world’s largest billion dollar corporations. He became the youngest CEO in history to ever head a Fortune 500 company and he created a revolutionary new model for doing business in the information age. How did he do it?
He Had Focus: Dell isn’t the computer industry’s biggest innovator, but nor does it try to be. Dell knows what it is good at and what made it a success, and it has stuck to that formula. By cutting operating costs, eliminating the middleman, scrapping inventory and spending a minimal amount on research and development, Dell is the first to admit that it’s sole goal is to offer computers at the lowest possible price and leave the cost and risks of innovating to others.
He Prioritized the Customer: With little innovation of its own, Dell is often accused of being a one-trick pony. “No,” he replies. “We’re a two-trick pony. We satisfy customers and we make a profit.” From day one, Dell has made a point of studying his customers as opposed to his competitors, believing this would give him a greater competitive advantage. By focusing on product customization, customer needs and customer service, Dell has established his company as one of the most customer-centric in operation today.
He Delegated Authority: Dell might have started off on his own at 19 years old, but as the company grew, he knew his success would depend on the people he surrounded himself with. “There’s no such thing as a self-made success,” he says. “We are all gifts to each other, and my own growth as a leader has shown me again and again that the most rewarding experiences come from my relationships.” By giving his staff a high degree of responsibility and authority, Dell was ensuring his team had an equal amount of interest in seeing his company succeeded as he did.
He Was Flexible: “Swing for hits, not home runs,” says Dell. “Business is like baseball. If your competitor is batting 300 you want to bat 350 or 400. No-one’s batting 1000. So you can’t worry about it.” Dell wasn’t aiming to be perfect. But, he did want to stay on top of his competitors. By being aware of changing trends and being flexible enough to adapt to them, Dell was able to use those very changes to his advantage.
He Was Independent: Dell had everyone from his parents to industry experts telling him to ignore his dream and go back to school. There was no way a 19 year old with no innovative product of his own could break into the game, they said. But, Dell believed in what he was doing. He knew there was a demand that he could meet and he refused to listen to his critics until they were singing his praises.
You only need look at the name on the computer in front of you and chances are Dell’s success will quickly become apparent. Today, Dell Inc. revenue continues to grow at nearly 15% per year. Dell has not only set the bar for customized, low-cost computers, but by making his success seem so simple and straightforward, Dell has become one of the most fascinating and copied entrepreneurs in history.
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