July 21, 2014
Why do we make such a big deal about companies that started in garages?
Companies are started in garages because that’s where a home’s extra space can be found. An entrepreneur has an idea, and he or she fills the extra space in their home with that idea. You, too, can fill the extra space in your home with your idea, goal or dream. If the garage-based companies of the world have anything to teach us, it’s that sacrifice, determination and a little extra space are essential to making great ideas a reality. Let’s look at a few of the great companies that started in a garage.
Everyone Knows: Google, Apple, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Microsoft, Amazon, Disney
Most everyone knows that Google, Apple, HP, Dell, Microsoft, Amazon, and Disney were started in the garage. But that’s not all these companies have in common. 1.) They are all, with the exception of Disney, predominantly technology companies 2.) They are often featured on lists of the top companies that started in garages 3.) They had visionary leaders 4.) They were not afraid to take risks and think differently. In our careers, if we are going to find sustainable success we must be willing to go out on a limb, take risks and shoot for the stars. Setting these companies as the standard for success can be a great inspiration.
What about: Nike, Patagonia, Maglite
- The founders of Nike didn’t even start in a garage. Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight sold their shoes out of the trunk of a car. Today Nike is one of the world’s largest corporations and has a world-class roster of athletes endorsing its products.
- Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, had a similar experience, selling home-made rock climbing equipment to finance rock climbing expeditions. Today Patagonia is THE brand associated with quality eco-friendly outdoor goods.
- Maglite, created by Anthony Maglica, is the standard in flashlights. Maglica didn’t create the flashlight, but he did greatly improve upon it with his Maglite brand. You don’t have to start from scratch. You can make something that already exists better.
Also consider: The Beatles, The Ramones and George Lucas
- The Beatles, went from a garage to bigger than, well, everything. Today most every aspect of popular culture owes something to the Beatles. Every product that you can add a Beatles logo to, has, at one point or another, been made. But in the end, what most endures is the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo. When they first started rehearsing in a garage space, they didn’t know that they’d change the world, but they tried. That’s the key.
- You can think of The Ramones as The Beatles of punk rock. Where the Beatles married popular music to the backbeat rock n’ roll sound, The Ramones took the style of the 1950s and early 60s and combined it with the emerging rebellious sound of punk music. When the Ramones crammed into a garage they invented a sound no one had ever heard before. Their enduring popularity is evident, too. Just look at the famous Ramones logo shirt for proof. The lesson: Take inspiration from the things you love and invent something new.
- Star Wars wasn’t made in a garage. Neither was Raiders of the Lost Ark. But American Graffiti was made on so little money by today’s movie budget standards that it’s a miracle George Lucas’s movie was released at all. The movie is now one of the most successful films of all time, making some $200 million but costing just over $700,000 to produce. Lucas didn’t have much luck pitching the idea of a film about teenage life in Northern California during the early 1960s. Multiple studios turned down the project. He didn’t give up, and the success of American Graffiti made the rest of his career possible. Today Lucas’ Star Wars is one of the most popular franchises in the world and LucasFilm, his production company, is one of the premier innovators in filmmaking.
So what can we take from these companies and creators? Determination is key. Keep to your dream and anything is possible. Fill the empty garage space in your life with your goals and amazing things can happen.