Four Lessons from Top Tech Companies

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Some little-known facts about some of the world’s most successful technology companies could give you ideas for your own business.

These are companies that have continually transformed themselves to stay relevant. They’ve gone through long downswings, yet have reemerged triumphant. They’re proof that a good brand isn’t enough without ideas and execution. So here are four lessons, from IBM, Dell, Apple, Intel and Microsoft.

Keep an eye out for new markets and continually reinvent yourself. An early incarnation of IBM was called the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, which manufactured and sold tabulators and punched cards – but also sold meat and cheese slicers. Since then, the company has given the world ATMs, floppy disks, hard drives, UPC codes, magnetic stripe cards and DRAM, among other inventions.

Think outside (or on the side of) the box. Dell’s first ads were placed on the back of pizza boxes. A smart move for a company that was launched in a dorm room.

Look around you for inspiration. The name of Apple’s iPod was inspired by a line from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”: “Open the pod bay door, Hal!” But perhaps you shouldn’t always stick too close to home for inspiration. Intel’s name was initially going to be Moore Noyce, after co-founders Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, but they abandoned the name because it sounded too much like “more noise.” So they started as NM Electronics, then changed to Integrated Electronics, or Intel for short. Imagine a “Moore Noyce Inside” sticker on your laptop.

Establish your own unique traditions – and keep them fun. On their employment anniversary dates, Microsoft employees bring to the office one pound of M&Ms for every year they’ve worked at the company.

Adapted from Little-Known Facts About Ten Legendary IT Firms by Dennis McCafferty at Baseline Magazine.  And send us your small business success tips!