4 Entrepreneurial Strategies To Find & Build Unicorn Opportunities Like Steve Jobs Did

Have you ever wondered how billion-dollar entrepreneurs from Sam Walton (Walmart) and Dick Schulze (Best Buy) to Travis Kalanick (Uber) and Niraj Jain (Wayfair) found their unicorn opportunities? These visionary minds employed four key strategies to achieve remarkable success.

#1. Emerging Trend

This is the most important and most common method used by finance-smart entrepreneurs. They find an emerging trend, before it has taken off, enter it, and dominate it. Examples include:

· Electronic Medical Technology Trend: Earl Bakken started Medtronic in the emerging medical electronics industry – in fact, he was the founder.

· Big-Box Trend: Sam Walton (Walmart) and Dick Schulze (Best Buy) started their businesses when the big-box trend was taking off.

· PC Trend: Many smart entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Michael Dell (Dell) started their companies in the emerging personal computer industry.

· Biotech Trend: Herb Boyer was the scientific brain and a co-founder of Genentech when biotechnology started. In fact, Boyer was one of the scientists who discovered gene-splicing technology to start the biotech industry.

· Telecom Trend: Ralph Roberts was one of the pioneers of cable TV when it was emerging and built Comcast.

· Internet 1.0 Trend: This emerging industry includes Internet pioneers like Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com), and Page and Brin, the co-founders of Google.

· Internet 2.0 Trend: This phase of the Internet was the social networking trend, and included pioneers like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook).

· Internet 3.0 Trend: This is when the Internet started disrupting many industries including hotels Airbnb (Brian Chesky) and Uber (Travis Kalanick.

· The New Unicorn Trend: AI is the emerging trend du jour. The winners are emerging.

#2. Turnarounds

A few entrepreneurs bought or took over the leadership of companies that were failing and turned them around. Sometimes, the ventures just happened to be ones started by the very same entrepreneurs – who were fired by the board of directors after the entrepreneur lost control to the financiers. Steve Jobs happened to be in this category and luckily for Apple, he was invited back to save the company from an ignominious fate. By reshaping Apple in his image, using the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad, Jobs built one of the greatest companies in history.

#3. Industry Leadership Through Acquisitions

These are entrepreneurs who are able to leverage a single small company in a growing or mature industry – and took it to the top through a series of acquisitions. Wayne Huizenga of Waste Management, for instance, started a waste pickup service and using smart management and about 100 acquisitions, built a giant. Those who built giants in an industry via acquisitions were smart operators who knew how to raise money.

4. Management Excellence

Those who have harnessed exceptional managerial skills have orchestrated the creation of numerous companies across time, defying easy categorization. They have deployed a range of skills, including the use of emerging trends, revitalizing distressed enterprises, expanding through acquisitions, and strategically exiting at opportune moments. Here are three key principles for excelling as a manager:

· Evaluate every business with its own customized lens. Craft a tailored strategy for each business is imperative, as each one possesses distinct clienteles and rivals. Michael Dell’s strategy of customized PCs when nearly all his competitors were focused on mass-produced PCs was a classic.

· Assemble a stellar management team. Get a great management team to build a giant and reward them handsomely when the business succeeds. That’s how good people stay with you. Glen Taylor built a giant by recruiting, training, and rewarding an excellent management team (Bootstrap to Billions).

· Finance right. Identify and use the right financing sources and instruments to grow more with less. Wayfair’s strategy of using alternate financing and avoiding VC until they had nearly $400 million in revenue and Joe Martin’s strategy of using customer subscriptions to build Boxycharm.com from an investment of $375 helped them build unicorns and control them.

MY TAKE: Know yourself. Understand your strengths and weaknesses to tailor a fitting strategy for you. Then get skills. Without skills, you may find and prove the opportunity, but you will make someone else rich.

MORE FROM FORBESFrom $375 To The Newest Unicorn In Beauty: How Joe Martin Built Boxycharm.com Without VC


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