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Is that company any good?
What we'll learn:
1) What makes a company a good company?
2) Where are the people with the money?
3) Why should you care about quality?
You have some time on your hands, and you want to make some money. So you do what any red-blooded American would do: You open a lemonade stand.
But there are plenty of lemonade stands out there. What's going to separate yours from the rest? If you open your lemonade stand in your backyard, you're probably not going to do very well (which is why most kids — even when they're four or five — know to open a lemonade stand on the sidewalk).
That's where the potential customers are. You might have the best lemonade in the world, but if no one sees you, they're not going to buy from you. As they say in real estate, a successful business comes down to location, location, location. So this is one of the first questions a company should address:
Where are the customers?
A good company puts its products where the customers can find them. Now that's a good start, but here are two more questions a good company will ask.
What do the customers want?
Once you've found the customers, the next thing you want to do is make sure you're selling something people want.
If it's January and you're in Chicago, you're not going to sell a lot of lemonade because it's cold. (No, scratch that — it's FREEZING. But that's another story.)
Anyway, the point is, people don't want lemonade when it's cold. So having a product that people want is one key to having a good business.
How do you ensure customer satisfaction?
You also want to sell a quality product. If your lemonade is watered down, too tart, or — heaven forbid — likely to make people sick, then business will dry up fast.
But quality products attract people, those people tell their friends, the company makes money, the stock goes up, shareholders make money, a winning product has been created, and everyone's happy. At WeSeed, we believe that's what business is all about.
Three Facts to Wow Your Friends at a Party
1) The oldest known company in the world is Kongo Gumi, a Japanese construction company founded in 578.
2) The oldest company in the U.S. is J. E. Rhoads & Sons in Branchburg, New Jersey, a conveyor-belt supply company founded in 1702.
3) More than half of the Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware.
A Good Apple
Almost anyone can start a company — all you need is an idea and a little cash. (Well, maybe a lot of cash, but let's not split hairs.)
Aye, but here's the rub: Not everyone can start a good company. As we talked about in the lesson, there are a few things that make a good company, so let's take a look at how they play out in the real world.
For many years, Apple (AAPL) was just a computer company. Sure, Apple made good computers that were user friendly and prettier than your basic beige box CPU. But all in all, the company wasn't reinventing the wheel.
Lo, while some computer companies were just tweaking a basic idea, Apple was continuing to innovate and think about the next, coolest product.
And soon, what appeared on the shelves? The iPod. There may have been other portable music players out there, but this one blew them all away. Soon the iPod was as ubiquitous as oxygen, and you saw the telltale white earphones hanging out of people's ears everywhere you looked.
The days of lugging around a case full of CDs were gone forever.
Typical of a good company, Apple didn't rest on its laurels. The iPod continually improved: Black and white screens gave way to color, then came more memory, then video capability, and so on.
Then came the iPhone, which — like the iPod — pretty much altered the playing field. This put the company on people's minds, and so Apple sold more computers, too.
But what about quality? Well, you hear horror stories about people's iPods crashing, and all of those Hootie and the Blowfish songs are gone forever. Sure, that happens. But overall, Apple's quality has been pretty high, and in the end, quality wins out: Apple's stock went from $9 in 2001 to $181 in 2008.
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