Lessons From ‘Business Adventures’

wealthymattersBill Gates recently revealed that his favourite business book is Business Adventures, a 1969 collection of New Yorker articles by John Brooks that illustrate the formation of the modern American corporation. Here are some of its key lessons that are still applicable today:

Innovators need to keep innovating

Gates writes that one of the most instructive stories in the book is the article, “Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox.” After the Xerox 914 hit the mass market in 1960, “xeroxing” a document soon became office parlance. Five years later, Xerox brought in $500 million in revenue. Move a few years into the future, Xerox’s leadership became comfortable resting on its laurels. This attitude would eventually lead to huge losses in the late 1970s as competitors started releasing their own photocopiers. But because Xerox executives didn’t think these ideas fit their core business, they chose not to turn them into marketable products. Others stepped in and went to market with products based on the research that Xerox had done. Gates says, “I’m not alone in seeing this decision as a mistake on Xerox’s part.” Read more of this post

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