If a billionaire founder took over your small business and had to work with the exact same resources you had, what would they do differently?


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If a billionaire founder took over your small business and had to work with the exact same resources you had, what would they do differently?

I guess what I’m getting at, are the Jeff bezoz, Elon musks, bill gates, Steve jobs, etc. More just playing a different game or more just playing the game better?

If a billionaire founder took over your small business and had to work with the exact same resources you had, what would they do differently?

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49 Replies to “If a billionaire founder took over your small business and had to work with the exact same resources you had, what would they do differently?”

  1. Just read Zero to One. They would likely shift the business and put resources into something niche they could dominate and then scale.

  2. A billionaire would hire employees and managers.

    However my goal isn’t to grow or make a billion dollars, it’s to make “enough” and be happy.

  3. Not sure, I’d love to know. I’m a bit tired of building at the moment. I’ve been doing 25-75 or more cold calls 3-5 days a week for about 2 years now. I’m amazed I find new leads everyday.

    I’m doing very well, but I think I’m lonely.

    I’ve taken almost half of the niche market from competitors in 3 years. I’m also working on consolidating factories, finishing out product line depth and targeting overseas markets.

  4. I don’t think they would be working with the same resources for long, because they would immediately put together the prerequisites and seek external investment, which they’d then dump into things like more efficient infrastructure and a bigger marketing budget.

    The difference between us is that they’d have the confidence to do that, because they wouldn’t have the same personal attachment to the business that the actual founders have in my case. Go big or go home is fine as long as you know you’ll still have a home to go to. The rest of us exercise more caution, though possibly at the expense of rapid growth.

  5. They would stop being an artist. They would charge a lot more. Hire someone to sell and standardize the fuck out of everything. Then they would scale. It would be absolutely miserable and soul sucking for me.

  6. Each of those founders came from very fortuitous circumstances. They were in the right place at the right time, along with exceptional skill, intelligence, dedication, and business acumen. Someone with those same skills & intelligence in a different setting or born in a different country to different parents would likely not achieve the same thing.

    For example: Gates was born to wealthy, highly-educated parents which by itself is a huge advantage in life. He was enrolled in an excellent private school. And he had computer access as a teenager in the 1960s. Only a tiny fraction of people could claim that. Even into the early 1980s, less than 10% of the country owned computers, so imagine the enormous advantage he had to be able to learn, practice, and experiment in his formative years.

    This isn’t to denigrate his accomplishments. It IS to say that you can be just as smart, but not achieve the same things, through circumstances that have **NOTHING** to do with your choices. That’s why comparing yourself to billionaires is probably not a productive activity.

  7. I have this situation at my current firm, well of sorts. The owner is worth £20m, his partner (they are not yet married) worth about £500m, other investors are worth between £30m & £50m. Total is close to $1bn in wealth so I can tell you what they have done.

    1. They spend lavishly on solidifying their relationships and power. They know money talks and they will use it as their leverage.

    2. They create a moat. When you’re super rich you need a moat around you. It’s mainly filled by family / close friends and some of their key relationships.

    3. They think they are right and live by confirmation bias. Not always true, but when you are surrounding yourselves with a moat the easiest way to do so is with “yes men” which leads to them thinking they are always right and having little challenge.

    4. They understand finance, specifically leverage and structuring. This can be a benefit, but it is separate from building a business. To maintain ownership of a firm you need to have control in the cap stack, and a lot of time and effort can be spent controlling the cap stack at the expense of ensuring the operations are run smoothly.

    Fundamentally, none of the above has been positive for our business. Money gives us a good salary, but the operational focus has been lost with the focus on the cap stack. In short political issues at the firm stop the firm from developing.

    Good investors realise they need a quality operational team and challenge. You’re better to find that investor/owner, even if they have less cash than another, as it will allow the business to efficiently thrive.

  8. All the people you mentioned started their own businesses, and they started small. They did it better than their competitors, either through better marketing, processes, or product/service innovation.

  9. It would probably depend on what you mean by exact same resources.

    Jeff Bezos came from banking, self funded for a while, and had connections to get angel investors. I read a story once about how one of his early employees wanted to invest and Jeff denied him the first two times he asked because he considered it too risky for the guy. So he was playing go big or go home from the get go. Not something most small business owners are willing to do. Most don’t have an established banking career to fall back on if their dominate the world moonshot doesn’t pay off.

    Probably what he would do if he woke up tomorrow as some average chump running an average chump business and a desire to succeed in that industry would be to immediately quit/sell, work his way in to Princeton, then banking, and only then retry something similar to your business but with far higher goals.

    Same as all the others. They started out at prestigious institutions. It changes your decision making criteria when you have the opportunities that opens up as a fall back.

    It would also depend on what your business is. I know from at least my experience that managing unskilled part time workers has basically nothing in common with designing or selling software. I get the impression that a ton of people in here are doing the former whereas billionaire founders tend to have done the latter or things closer to it.

  10. I would say that they would understand their customer and their customers problems better than the incumbents, then solve the problem better. And because they solved it better, their customers would have a higher willingness to pay.

  11. They would work too much. We have parlayed our success into fewer hours rather than faster growth. We live very comfortably working less than 30 hours a week. If we (husband and wife) worked 60 hours a week we could easily generate four times the income. It was never our intent, (we are somewhat surprised at the success of our seven year old business) but we are living very close to the life portrayed in the parable of the Mexican fisherman. Back when we started, the business generated very little in the way of income so we relied on my wife’s comfortable salary as a senior analyst for a Fortune 200 company. A reorganization eliminated her job about a year before we were ready for it. We joked that as long as we could afford kibble for the dog, we could deal with anything and we frugally lived for a while on her severance (generous). The frugality is no longer required, but you might never catch on that we are doing as well as we are financially. We continue to grow, and one day we will give someone else the opportunity to run a substantial part of the business so we can work even less and instantly adjust to a 50% cut in pay.

  12. Well Elon lost a case for anti unionism and safety violations and bezos has been constantly criticised for inhumane working conditions in warehouses. So I imagine that plays a role.

    Gates’ mother was an inside connection to IBM.

    Once you are very wealthy, there is no reason you can’t take bigger risks either and you often don’t have to risk your own money.

  13. I can think of two things.

    Firstly, they worked their rings off. They talk about 100 hour weeks. I suspect that they probably use stims to achieve this.

    Secondly, they were extremely demanding on their employees. Employees had to keep up, and they had to deliver to extremely demanding requirements.

    There’s also a talent that I don’t know the name of, but I’ll call it “good judgement”. It’s where you have an extremely good nose for opportunity, and conversely, bullshit ideas. That’s where a companies’ strategy comes from and it will determine the long term viability and success of a business.

  14. They would have raised prices. We’ve had the same prices for 20 years. What happened is we grew in popularity so our costs lowered due to volume.

    Now it will be a while before we can raise prices.

  15. They would expand. I’m in a fast growing niche food business, and am one of a few that do what I do, in my area. But I am too tired and conflicted to know what to do next.. And they would also spend a lot more in advertising and marketing ( See previous reasons for inaction…)

  16. If you listen to the early days of Jeff Bezos and Amazon, he claimed one of the biggest innovations was a packing table, which increased efficiency by 25% 🙂 Jeff saw an opportunity in E-commerce and made strategic choices to get from small bookseller, to where it is now. Gates was first to understand the importance of personal computing and Jobs saw a different approach to Gates. All have made business strategy decisions and focused resources effectively to grow their businesses to what they are now. The importance is that they offered/saw something very different to what’s out there at the moment. I would imagine that they would think you’re lucky to not have to report to shareholders every decision, you have the freedom to take big risks, which is harder when the stakes are much higher.

  17. What they would do for almost every business is raise capital and hire the best top people they can. There are a ton of factors into what makes people this successful, but none of them can be successful without capital and a top notch team.

  18. It depends. Did the billionaire built the biz from ground up or just a typical C level? The latter chances would fail.

  19. A billionaire with only my resources or a billionaire with billionaire resources?

    Resources: hiring a team, immediately, one that I can’t currently afford. Probably leverage connections to get funding from others. Reach out and build a mass network, have contacts to high level players as partners or advisors, production teams, marketing teams, etc.

  20. Well depending on whether or not their money is still included in the equation I think they would be a great help. I have no doubt they would keep me in a management position because they need my expertise. Then with that amount of investment capital we could easily expand rapidly and my annual yet would go up exponentially. The only problem I have right now is needing more money to invest. I could continue making roughly $40k a year and living off of that all while having no employees but if I could hire entire crews and put up billboards and such I’d be sitting at home watching the checks roll in.

  21. Fire my IT department (sysadmins and developers) and purchase off the shelf products + contract IT services.

  22. People go through various stages in their thinking when growing a business. The processes that are successful for a small business would be terrible in a large enterprise, and vice versa.

    If you took a billionaire and put them in a small business, they would destroy it. It’s very difficult to make such a huge adjustment in your thinking… when you’re used to dealing with million dollar budgets, and suddenly you’re trying to allocate thousands. There’s a reason many startups won’t hire people with enterprise backgrounds.

    Just imagine how much you would need to learn to take over Amazon. It’s just as difficult in the opposite direction. Some of you are thinking it would be easy… but that’s just your ego talking.

  23. This is a loaded post, and it’s misleading. They wouldn’t use the same resources as you or me because they’d have way more resources than you or me.

    Money = Everything

    If I had to pretend, nothing. Being a billionaire is about luck and preparation and who you know.

  24. I actually work for a billionaire now. He took over the business someone else built. It was a start up that raised $100M. All of the original people left. Many were replaced by workers in India.

    The passion in the company is lower. It’s a cool product but a little ahead of its time.

  25. Probably some bold pivot that I’m too chickenshit to do given my lack of experience, so let me just keep doing the same shit that doesn’t work.

  26. The most valuable addition would be the overwhelming influx of cash to help optimize processes and delegate tasks to experts.

    All of which I will do when I have the money, but yeah… not possible at the moment.

  27. Try starting a game of Monopoly after all the property is owned and the remaining players are rich and see how well you do.

  28. All of these billionaires got two things right.

    1) Deciding where to play the game. All of them focused on high growth industries. They had a vision for where the world was going and aimed for a point many years down the road.

    2) Figuring out how to win. They have exceptionally high standards and push those around them to be the best. They choose their priorities carefully.

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