Why is Intel so successful? In this article we take a look at what small businesses can learn from the story of the well-known tech company Intel.
Intel is the power behind many of the products that we use every day, at least as far as computers are concerned.
Their name is short for “Integrated Electronics” and they are one of the world’s largest makers of semiconductor computer circuits.
In today’s world, they are the power that makes the entire world operate, even your ability to watch this video.
Intel’s headquarters are in Santa Clara, California, and when you look at the campus of large, multi-story buildings with the blue glass, you might not see a connection between its success and the small business that you are trying to grow.
You might think that its $20 billion in yearly revenues puts it in a different class than you altogether, but Intel began as a small business, and you can learn a lot by exploring how it grew from its roots to where it is today.
Here are 11 things small businesses can learn from Intel.
Intel Business Lessons For Entrepreneurs
#1. Be Willing to Get Experience and Learn the Skills Necessary
Intel was founded in 1968 by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore with $2.5 million in funding from a venture capitalist.
They were experienced and already had solid reputations in the engineering industry. This was probably a good reason why they were able to secure the capital in the first place.
A venture capitalist will need to see that you have a good chance for success before giving you that much money.
It is unlikely that they would have provided this much money to them if they were just two young college kids building a computer in their parent’s garage, like another famous computer manufacturer.
Noyce was the coinventor of the silicon integrated circuit in 1959. At that time, he was the general manager of Fairchild Camera and Instrument.
Moore was in charge of research and development at the same company.
If you are starting out, you have to realize that you might have to pay a few dues before you are ready to grow your business and take it to the next level.
Noyce and Moore were already seasoned professionals when they began their own company.
#2. Experience Counts.
When Noyce and Moore struck out to start their own business, they recruited many former Fairchild Camera and Instrument employees, including Andrew Grove, who would serve as CEO for the first three decades of Intel’s history.
Noyce and Moore did not start with employees and executives who were inexperienced. They knew the value of experienced employees and managers.
This is a lesson that you can apply to your own business when deciding that it is time to take on staff.
It is possible to train someone who does not know anything about your business, but there is something of great value in hiring experienced staff to help you grow.
Now, let’s explore a few quotes from these two American business icons to see what we can learn.
#3. Do Something That Has Never Been Done Before.
Robert Noyce said, “Don’t be encumbered by history, just go out and do something wonderful.”
This statement is the key to any business’s success.
You could take inspiration from products that are already on the market and ride on the heels of the success of others, but this will only get you so far.
If you really want to achieve success, you have to find a gap and an unfilled need. You need to then create a product that fills that need.
You can improve on existing products, but this is still something that has never been done before.
#4.You Must Have Optimism.
Robert Noyce was an eternal optimist. He said, “Optimism is an essential ingredient of innovation.
How else can the individual welcome change over security, adventure over staying in safe places?”
This does not mean that you should take foolish risks, but if you only play it safe, you will probably still be exactly where you are ten years from now.
Growth means taking calculated risks and doing things that you have never done before. Noyce also makes the point that optimism is the key to success.
If you do not think that something will work, and you expect to fail, then why do it? How you think about your project is a predictor of your success or failure.
The first step is believing that something will work and then making it happen.
#5. Leadership Ethics Are Essential.
One of Robert Noyce’s most profound sayings is, “If ethics are poor at the top, that behavior is copied down through the organization.”
If you are a leader in your organization, and you expect a certain level of ethics from your employees, you have to be the example.
This comes down to knowing why you are in the business in the first place. If you are in it for money, then you might be tempted to do things that are not morally correct, such as misleading your customers to get them to buy something from you.
This is a short-sighted strategy and is a recipe for failure and loss of your good reputation.
If you lead from a place of always trying to do what is right, then you will be rewarded by long-term success in the business.
#6. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail.
Gordon Moore said, “If everything you try works, you aren’t trying hard enough.”
This is a concept that has been echoed by many great business leaders. Few of them had success the first time they tried something.
We might remember that Thomas Edison invented 10,000 versions of the lightbulb before finding one that worked.
In the history of Apple Computers, the company has had over 10 products that were a complete flop. Every failure is a chance to learn what works and what does not work.
The key to success is taking the time to learn from your mistakes and try again until you find what does work.
#7. The path might not always be clear in the beginning, but don’t be afraid to take that first step.
Moore recounts, “I remember the difficulty we had in the beginning replacing magnetic cores in memories and eventually we had both cost and performance advantages. But it wasn’t at all clear in the beginning.”
One of the key reasons why many people never get started building their dreams is that they cannot see the entire path.
There might be a part of the startup that they cannot see how it will work, and this keeps them from taking the first step.
The key to success is taking the first step and knowing that when you do, the second step will reveal itself.
Growing a business means taking a step, testing a hypothesis, and then seeing what works and what does not.
You will take what works and figure out your next move. You do not have to have the entire plan laid out because you will probably change the plan anyway.
#8. Don’t Dwell on Your Failures.
Gordon Moore said, “One thing a leader does is to remove the stigma of mistakes.” He then went on to say, “Most of what I learned as an entrepreneur was by trial and error.”
There is a common myth in society that business failures are a bad thing. It is like a personal assault on your capability or worth, but as an entrepreneur, you must shed this belief and embrace failures as an opportunity to learn.
This myth was probably invented by someone who was not an entrepreneur and did not understand the process of growing a business.
The idea that a business failure is a personal failure and something to be ashamed of goes against the advice of the leaders of many of the world’s largest companies, including Intel.
#9. Fail Often and Fail Quickly.
Not only should you not feel bad about your failures or allow others to make you feel bad about them, but you should embrace them. Gordon Moore said,
“With engineering, I view this year’s failure as next year’s opportunity to try it again. Failures are not something to be avoided.
You want to have them happen as quickly as you can so you can make progress rapidly.”
Moore looks forward to what can be learned from a failure and sees it as only one step closer to success.
This is the attitude that will help you take your business to the next level. You have to embrace your failures and reflect on the lessons that can be learned.
Then, you have to apply those lessons and try again. Many successful businesses that we see today came on the tails of a long list of failures.
#10. Choose Your Market Carefully.
On success, Robert Noyce said, “Start with a growing market. Swim in a stream that becomes a river and ultimately an ocean.
Be a leader in that market, not a follower, and constantly build the best products possible.”
Every business starts with an idea, but then, you need to narrow down your ideas and choose the one that has the greatest chances for success.
If you choose something that has already been done by someone else, then your chances for success are lower.
Entering into a market that is already saturated or in decline is not a good idea, either.
You need to look for products that have a growing market that are in their early stages to have the greatest chances for success.
This means that you either need to be an innovator or look for new products and ideas that are already gaining momentum.
#11. Dream Big and Plan Big.
Robert Noyce reflected, “From the beginning at Intel, we planned on being big.”
When planning your business, you need to have a vision of how big you plan to be in the future.
Running a small or micro-business takes a different set of skills and methods than running a multi-billion dollar corporation.
If your eventual plan is to be a big corporation, then you have to think about planning for growth and scalability from the beginning.
It might not always go as planned, but you have to plan for the end result, even in the initial stages of business development.
So What’s Next?
Despite now being a giant tech company, there was a time that Intel was a small business. Check out our timeless small business marketing tips that Intel used to grow their business to what it is today.