While most startups fail, many tech companies haven’t just succeeded but have in fact excelled. Industry giants like Google and Amazon have managed to create empires out of humble origins. Somehow, these businesses have gone from working out of a garage to effectively running the world.
So how exactly did these brands get here? When you look at the most successful tech companies, you’ll recognize some common traits. Even if they feature radically different products or approaches, these organizations share more than a few characteristics.
Here are seven things that successful tech businesses tend to have in common.
The first thing you’ll notice across successful tech brands is a consistent image. Tech giants all have distinct personalities that seep into every aspect of their business. Every company has a different character, but they are all consistent in that character.
Branding is crucial, and perhaps the most critical part of branding is authenticity. The greatest companies are true to themselves. You can pick them out in a crowd because they’re not trying to be like everyone else. They’re focused on being themselves.
Google is fun and colorful, while Apple is clean-cut and futuristic. These companies have a deep understanding of their essence, and they show it in every part of their brand. A consistent image promotes authenticity, which makes you stand out and attract customers.
2. Focusing on Users
The best tech companies focus on the user above all else. Instead of finding customers who want a product or service, they make a product or service that customers want. Better yet, they produce something you didn’t know you wanted.
A successful tech business is one that works to make you the most satisfied you can be. Why do social media apps always update and add new features? Because they’re trying to improve the experience for you and other users.
No amount of clever marketing will save a platform that doesn’t serve its users. The best way to get customers is to make something that helps customers.
3. Starting Small
When you look at Amazon now, you see a company that does it all. They sell everything under the sun, they have streaming services, and they offer audiobook libraries and even make digital assistants. But you might remember that they started just selling books.
Successful companies start by doing one thing better than everyone else. No one can expect you to do everything, so why should you? Starting with a singular and specific focus not only helps you develop your business, but it also makes you stand out.
Diversifying your business is wise once your company is well-established. But to get to that point, companies need to focus on the one thing that sets them apart from everybody else.
Attributes of successful companies don’t just include how the business looks to consumers. The way the company operates is essential to its progress in the long run. One trend you’ll find across many successful businesses is employee stock ownership plans or ESOPs.
An ESOP helps companies in several ways, from funding to employee benefits. With an ESOP, employees own shares in their company. This plan encourages hard work and innovation because when the business does well, the employees will do well too.
If a business owner decides one day to sell their company, an ESOP makes it easier. With more options, including the possibility to sell directly to employees, owners don’t have to worry as much about getting a fair deal.
5. Building a Platform
The internet has changed the way many businesses operate. In the online age, the most successful companies are those that make a platform, not just a product. When you think about tech giants like Amazon, Facebook and Google, you think of their platform, not the goods available on that platform.
What is a “platform,” exactly? It’s a business model that connects users — both producers and consumers — in a single space where they can communicate. By creating a connected community, you allow your users to increase the value of your company.
Almost all major tech companies focus on platforms over products. There’s nothing wrong with selling products, but it’s often more profitable to establish a platform first.
6. Leading Instead of Following
You may think that tech companies gain success by jumping onto trends quickly, but that’s not entirely true. Early trend adoption can be helpful, but the most successful brands are those that start trends instead of following them. They look at their competition not to see how they can mimic them, but for how they can do something better.
Trying to make something new comes with a lot of risks, but the payoff can be even more substantial. Google didn’t just make another search engine. They made a search engine with tools and features no other service had.
Improving on an established idea is good, but coming up with an entirely new idea is even better.
7. Adapting to Change
Technology is an ever-changing field. Businesses need to adjust to these changes continually if they hope to stay ahead. You’ve probably noticed that Facebook today doesn’t look anything like Facebook did 10 years ago.
Tech companies have to adapt to changing customer needs and new technologies to be successful. What’s appealing today may not be preferable in just a few years. Similarly, today’s cutting-edge tech could be obsolete by the end of the decade.
Advancements happen on an exponential scale. Things change and improve at a faster rate now than they have for all of human history. Companies that don’t adapt to change will fall behind.
Making It in the World of Tech
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into being a successful tech company. Despite their many differences, the biggest names in tech have more than you might think in common. There’s no one guaranteed path to success, but there are some commonalities.
Not every single company shares all of these attributes, but they tend to demonstrate at least a few of them. Next time you hear about a promising new tech business, see if it has these characteristics. You may be surprised by how many you find.