What Small Businesses Can Learn From Google


When Google started in the 1990’s, it was just a small, three-person company in a garage. Now, it is a billion-dollar corporation with over 10,000 employees, and one of the most successful companies around. The Google search engine is the best tool that exists to connect Internet users with information, and it offers a wide variety of other free services. And it has the most successful web advertising platform with Google AdWords. How did such a small startup become a gigantic enterprise? There are lots of things about the Google model that other small businesses can learn from today.

The Cost Advantage

When many small businesses are just beginning, they don’t have a great deal of capital to spend. Google was the same, but it knew that having a cost advantage over potential competitors was key to getting a leg up in the market. Google did what they could to keep overhead and startup expenses down, including purchasing used IT hardware that did the job that brand-new equipment would but at a fraction of the price. As a small business, try to save money wherever possible. Sometimes the newest, shiniest and biggest aren’t necessary, and going with the “good enough” can increase your profit margin and cost advantage a great deal.

Do It Yourself

There are lots of ways you can outsource in your small business, but it may not be the best option. At Google, when they wanted to implement advertising, for example, they didn’t just use someone else’s advertising software. They created their own, and Google AdWords was born. Now, they control everything about it and receive all the profits. Anything you need for your small business, try to do it yourself. You can customize the service or product to be exactly what you need and avoid paying for any extras you don’t. You will then own it, and ownership is better than outsourcing for your business needs and profits. If you do it yourself, you may even come up with an entirely new thing that others will want, and then they can pay you to get it.

Give Stuff Away for Free

Basically all of Google’s features and services are free to average Internet users. You don’t have to pay to search. You don’t have to pay for Gmail or Google Documents. Google makes the majority of its money from advertisers who contract with them for AdWords. They make so much money doing it, in fact, that they can afford to give everything else away for free. Offering so many free services brings Google a gigantic audience of web users who take advantage of their generosity. If you offer free services for your clients, you will only broaden your customer base and make your customers very happy. And happy customers will spend money.

Treat Your Employees Right

The Googleplex is one of the best places for people to work. Google employees are treated handsomely. They get free use of gyms, transportation, haircuts, meals, dry cleaning and laundry, bike repair and doctors. The Googleplex is like a campus – a casual atmosphere complete with foosball and pool tables. Google employees are encouraged to have fun, and their lives are made easier with so many on-site services. Google employees are notoriously hard and dedicated workers – they get the job done and enjoy doing it. A great benefit to Google employees is the 20 percent time rule, where they are allowed to spend 20 percent of their workweek on any independent project they wish outside of their regular duties. Innovations like Gmail and Google News have been born out of this time. Treat your employees right, and you business will benefit from it with increased productivity and loyalty.

Core Competency

Google is the best search engine around because it spends the majority of its time working on improving it and making it as good as it can be. Google Search is the foundation of the entire corporation, and the most time and money is invested there. Your small business can benefit from focusing on your core competency more than anything else. Try to spread too thin and your business will be weaker. Instead make what you do best as strong as possible. And, like Google, don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Google has tried many ventures, like Google Health and Buzz, that have failed, and they were graciously retracted. Stick to your core competency for heightened success.

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