Giant companies like Microsoft or Inditex have all heard of. However, few people think about how their founders started and created their multi-million-dollar empires.
10 Greatest Business Empires: Success Stories
We have prepared success stories for 10 world-renowned business empires. Perhaps they will inspire you to do your own business by example.
The most popular fast food was founded by two brothers, Mac and Dick McDonald. McDonald’s became a pioneer among self-service power grids. The first McDonald’s restaurant opened in 1940 in California. At first it was just an unremarkable local restaurant, but enterprising businessman Ray Crock saw the huge potential of the company and bought the right to act as a franchising agent from his brothers. When he first met the McDonalds, Crock was on the verge of bankruptcy. But already in 1955, having opened his first McDonald’s, he began to earn well. In 1961, Ray Crock finally bought the business for 2.7 million and began to expand it. In 1965, in the U.S. there were 700 establishments.
The first to try the famous hamburgers outside the United States could residents of Canada, a popular fast food opened there in 1967. Further development of the company was rapid. Today, McDonald’s is represented in 118 countries and 70 million people visit the network every day, which includes more than 35,000 points. Franchisees try to adapt the menu to the traditions of a particular country, for example, in India they serve lamb instead of beef. But, despite this, McDonald’s is constantly involved in some scandals related to poor working conditions and poor quality of food. There is a documentary «Double Portion» on the subject, and chef Jamie Oliver even won the lawsuit against the company, proving that the burgers use meat waste. However, such cases do not affect the popularity of McDonald’s in any way.
Steve Jobs and his associates founded Apple in 1976 with the goal of making personal computers more accessible. At the time, he didn’t know how famous it would become. Today, Apple is the undisputed market leader, and its products have become a real cult. The annual profit of the business empire is 300 thousand dollars, and the annual income is many times higher than the earnings of all competitors taken together. Sometimes the bank account of Apple is more money than in the U.S. Treasury. The scales of sales of IPhone and other production grow every year. Steve Jobs bequeathed that it is necessary to «remain insatiable», and it seems that his child succeeds in this.
The talented programmer Bill Gates knew from an early age how to use his abilities to his advantage. At school, he drew up a schedule of lessons that allowed him to study in a classroom with as many girls as he could. Women’s attention is good, but Bill had much more ambition. In 1975 he decided to start his own business. The first Windows came out in 1985. This operating system quickly became the most popular due to its simplicity and versatility, and the name of Bill Gates became the most popular worldwide. Microsoft has gone from a small company with three employees and a modest turnover of $ 16,000 to a giant multinational corporation.
Now Microsoft employs approximately 90,000 people and is a leader in the production of computer hardware and software for it. Despite the status of a business giant, the corporation gladly accepts young employees into its ranks. The competition is huge: on average 1 million 300 thousand people apply for one position. Therefore, HR managers try to approach the selection with imagination. For example, they ask the applicant to explain why the sewerage hatch should be round. Probably, such questions help to find among all stream of candidates those who thinks as much as possible non-standardly.
The story of Dell Computer Corporation is truly inspiring. Michael Dell wasn’t an outstanding student at all, however, at the age of twelve he earned his first serious money — $2,000 to sell magazines. The guy sent cute postcards to newcomers offering a free 2-week subscription. That’s how Michael became acquainted with the technique of direct selling, which in the future became the main concept of his company. Dell started his company as early as 19, investing only a thousand dollars. Dell doesn’t work with intermediaries and doesn’t use warehouses, they only collect computers to order and offer a lot of bonuses to everyone, including constant service support. Thanks to this business tactic, Dell quickly developed and won recognition: in 2005, it was ranked first in the Fortune’s «Companies of Admiration» ranking.
Today Disney is not only a wonderful movie and cartoon for the whole family, but also one of the biggest entertainment empires. In addition to several Walt Disney Productions studios and recording studios, the Walt Disney Company owns magazines, newspapers, huge amusement parks around the world and a television network. Branded souvenirs are sold in 535 stores. They even have their own hockey and baseball teams. Annually, the conglomerate brings the owners up to $20 billion. For almost a hundred years of history, the company has managed to win the great love of people, primarily due to cartoons.
Walt Disney began to draw in 7 years. The artist tried everything: comics, cartoons, took a course at the Academy of Fine Arts. The beginning of the great empire was laid in a small garage studio, where the first masterpieces were drawn. In 1924, Walt released the first cartoon in the series on the adventures of heroes of the world «Alice in Wonderland» based on the works of Carroll. In 1928, the screens first appeared on the legendary Mickey Mouse, who was voiced by Disney himself. It was the studio Walt Disney gave us the most cash cartoon in the history of «Snow White and the Seven Dwarves» and such masterpieces as «Beauty and the Beast», «Fantasy», «Bambi», «One hundred and one Dalmatian» and others. The studio has a record number of 29 Oscars, and the number of fans is only growing.
All lovers of luxury know the conglomerate LVMH, which combines dozens of premium brands of alcohol, jewelry, clothing and cosmetics. The concern includes such giants as Don Peregnon, Louis Vuitton, Hennesy, Marc Jacobs and many others. It all started when two major luxury brands Moët Hennessy and Louis Vuitton decided to join forces in 1987. The concern formed under the leadership of the Frenchman Bernard Arnault subsequently absorbed many more brands. The annual turnover of the LVMH empire is a couple of tens of billions of euros. In addition to the production of goods, they publish magazines, hold auctions, do charity work, including the protection of cultural monuments. The main concept of the LMHV is perfectionism in everything. This is what managers expect from young talented creators and entrepreneurs, whom the company actively involves in the work.
More than 500 brands of cosmetics from mass-market to premium class are united under this name. Vichy, Lancôme, Garnier, Elsève, Maybelline New York and others have all bought something of this at least once in their lives. Over 65,000 people work in 5 research centres, 25 cosmetic companies and 47 factories. And it all began with a small production of hair dye. In 1909, the French chemist Eugene Schuller invented synthetic dye and established sales. Profitable business was developing, in 1934 the company also produced products for hair washing and perfumes.
In 1957, Schuller’s daughter took over L’Oreal after her father’s death. With her, the concern reached an incredible scale and began to acquire other brands. Today, L’Oreal can afford to spend record amounts of money on advertising, which is 30% of all profits. The brand slogan of L’Oreal Paris is «I am worthy of it», and almost everyone hears it. The most famous models and actresses said this phrase in the advertising of legendary cosmetics. However, other brands are also well developed as part of the conglomerate. High competition stimulates manufacturers to constantly improve the quality and design of products, so sales are only growing.
The huge conglomerate Inditex includes almost all of the most famous mass-market clothing brands. This is Bershka, and Pull and Bear, and Zara, and many others. In the 1970s, Spanish businessman Amancio Ortega opened an inexpensive clothing store called Zara. It was profitable, so the owner decided to open a few more outlets. In 1985 they grew into Inditex Corporation. Subsequently, it expanded: new brands appeared, aimed at different audiences. And not only clothes, but also shoes, accessories, household goods. Today Inditex is one of the largest companies offering affordable trendy clothes to consumers: it has more than 5000 stores around the world and their number is constantly increasing.
- Virgin Group
A huge international conglomerate includes dozens of companies that produce everything from books to racing cars. The company owns air and rail carriers, communication operators, radio stations and produces alcoholic beverages. There is even a space tour operator Virgin Galactic among the enterprises that plans to organize flights into space in the near future. Could the founder of the empire Richard Branson imagine such a future when he graduated from school, being on the list of the worst students? Perhaps he could, because the director said to him: «Either you, Richard, will go to jail, or you will become a millionaire.
Happened second — today Branson is a famous and very shocking rich man, who owns a campaign that brings $ 24 billion a year. And he started by selling records, publishing a magazine, selling jewelry and organizing balloon flights, and then forming a record label. Richard Branson did absolutely everything that made a profit, and that explains the diversity of brands in the conglomerate. According to rumors, he is not sure how many of them there are. In any case, this approach proved to be correct and Virgin Group became a multi-brand empire with a shocking reputation. Thanks largely to the founder’s tricks, which denies any formalities and subordination, he welcomes beer drinking at work and refuses to take off his favorite sweater even at a reception with the royal family.
Conrad Hilton wanted to become a banker, but became a millionaire when he decided to go into the hotel business at the age of 31. The first hotel of the world famous chain, Dallas Hilton, opened in 1925 in Texas. The owner set himself the goal of making it the best in the state, and as a result created one of the best hotel chains in the world. The twenties in the U.S. were marked by the Great Depression and many businesses closed, but not Hilton. Conrad mortgaged the business to the creditors, but after 5 years he bought it back. And in 1954, the largest deal for the hotel business took place: Conrad Hilton bought a competitor company Statler Hotels for 111 million. Already at the end of that decade, 40 hotels were opened in America and abroad.
The chain’s success was in innovation, which is now considered an integral part of this business. It was Hilton who came up with the idea to define the class of the hotel with the number of stars, to combine hotels with casinos, to open hotels in airports. All of this undoubtedly increased the influx of customers, but such a huge success would not have been possible without the highest quality of service in Hilton hotels. Today there are already 3800 of them. You can stay at the hotel chain in 88 countries. The empire is still managed by members of the Hilton family. After Conrad’s death, it was temporarily taken over by the Hilton Foundation, but the founder’s son returned the business to the family through court.
These are the stories of the largest business empires of our time. Behind each of them is a man who was not afraid to take a risk and start his own business. So the next time you are in doubt, remember that any success begins with one small step.