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3 Big Businesses That Give SMEs Reason to Dream

OK, so small business confidence in the UK is at its lowest ebb for six years, but this does not mean that SMEs should prepare for the worst.

In fact, there are numerous reasons why small businesses in the UK should remain optimistic, even if the economic climate remains strained. If all else fails, entrepreneurs can even draw on the experiences of other small start-ups that managed to scale quickly, before turning into the big brands of today.

With this in mind, here are three big businesses that have given smaller firms reason to dream:

1. Apple

We start with Apple, which despite being based in the U.S. has established prominent bases in the UK and Ireland.

It is also relevant to our message, as despite growing into one of the largest and most influential corporations in the world, it actually started out in a garage. Launched by the late Steve Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniack, the business emerged from a shared passion for electronics and a desire to create a PC for the home market. With this behind them, they set up shop in Jobs' parents' garage and developed their first prototype product, intriguingly named 'Apple 1'.

The two also made considerable sacrifices to source the $1,350 worth of capital that was required to launch their venture for real, with Jobs selling his Volkswagen microbus and Wozniack offloading his Hewlett-Packard calculator. With this, Apple was born, the brand quickly began its ascent as a thriving technology giant.

Many entrepreneurs can probably identify with this story, as it is a narrative of sacrifice, hope and humble beginnings. If this is how some of the world's biggest ventures have started, there is no reason why your venture cannot follow suit.

2. Virgin

While Virgin's story is arguably more about the man behind the business than the brand itself, it is still an inspirational tale that should resonate with anyone who has an entrepreneurial spirit.

Virgin is now one of the largest and most diverse operations in the world, and one whose shares are often traded through brokerage sites such as LCG (either as individual shares or as part of larger indices). It began as little more than a creative vision in the mind of Richard Branson, however, who quit school at the age of 16 to create a youth culture magazine called 'Culture'. This venture did not prove to be popular, so like all good entrepreneurs he redoubled his efforts and quickly broke into the thriving London music scene.

From here he opened a modest, mail-order record company, scaling it gradually to establish his first retail outlet on Oxford Street. The iconic name 'Virgin' was also born at this time, as Branson and his staff were dubbed by experts as inexperienced and novice entrepreneurs.

The rest, as they say, is history, with Virgin producing an estimated £19.5 billion in revenue last year and having diversified into interests such as trains, travel, mobile phones and banking.

3. Asos

At the turn of the century, Amazon blazed a trail in the world of business that led to the development of the prosperous e-commerce space.

At the same time, a little known UK start-up called Asos decided to capitalise on the move towards online sales, by duplicating celebrity-inspired products at the factor of the cost and focusing on the speed of delivery. While the brand's sense of timing and underlying business model was to be admired, however, Asos started out slowly and even after a year only employed three individuals.

The brand showcased how success can often follow a well-timed entrance into a growing market, as within 10 years Asos had grown to employ 2,000 members of staff, host nine international websites and maintain six global offices.

It has continued to grow incrementally to this day, focusing on delivery affordable goods quickly and for affordable prices. It has also made its name by developing excellent customer service, making returns seamless and delivering genuine satisfaction for loyal patrons.

 

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