Great Ideas for your Small Business:
Stick to Your Guns and Keep Your Ideas Simple (MIKE BLOOMBERG)
Michael bloomberg is a genius whose success is an inspiration for all entrepreneurs. His achievements exemplify the American Dream—starting a business from scratch and earning billions. And since this interview, Bloomberg has gone on to run an even bigger operation: the City of New York.
After some sticky personality clashes and the sale in 1981 of Salomon Brothers to Philbro Corporation ended his fifteen-year career there, Bloomberg, with about $10 million in hand, set out to develop the premiere, proprietary information system for traders and savvy investors. Hence, the beginning of Bloomberg Financial Markets.
There are about 157,000 Bloomberg terminals in use around the world today, providing current data on a myriad of subjects that matter most to traders, brokers, analysts, and investors. Once focused exclusively on financial market data, the Bloomberg system of today also offers news stories, multimedia reports, apartment listings in New York City—it even helps you send flowers. The amount of financial information and general resources available on the Bloomberg system, and the level of customer service that is offered, is astounding.
I know Mike personally and was able to watch him in action on a regular basis when I was a producer/reporter on Bloomberg’s small business TV program. Of course, I took appropriate advantage of my time at Bloomberg to get into the mind of the master and ask him to share some of his ideas on business for aspiring entrepreneurs. “Do something simple that you can really define,” he said, twirling his reading glasses. “Sitting in your office, pondering momentous, abstract ideas doesn’t always work.” You need to keep it straightforward, particularly in the initial stages, and then you can build from there, he said.
It’s also essential to share your dreams openly and stick to your game plan. “I went out and said to someone, ‘I’m going to do it,’” he said. “Then I did it.” “It” is a continually growing multimedia communications company with nearly 7,000 employees and annual sales approaching $3 billion. The company buzzes with innovation. If you go away from Bloomberg’s New York City office for three days, you won’t recognize the place when you return.
As soon as a newly expanded area opens up, it’s filled with people, phones, and equipment. The kitchen, known worldwide for its unlimited supply of free snacks, fresh fruit, and beverages, bustles with visitors and staffers from early morning to long past dinnertime.
Need a Coke? A raspberry truffle? A phone to call to Los Angeles? Just hang out in the Bloomberg kitchen and reception area and do your thing. You never know who you’ll meet or bump into. The structure is deliberate. “Walls and titles act as barriers,” said Bloomberg. That’s why open space is the rule around the office.
Although it appears that the company took off like a rock- et from the beginning, Bloomberg said it took years to build the business because “we didn’t try to do everything at once.” Perfecting and updating the Bloomberg system takes top priority. The company spends about $30 million a year on research and development.
The radio, television, and publishing operations are the toddlers in the Bloomberg family. Bloomberg Television provides twenty-four hours of news every day through national cable distribution, USA Network, DirecTV, and the Bloomberg terminal. Bloomberg News Radio is syndicated through more than 200 affiliates worldwide and airs on Bloomberg 1130 AM in New York.
The company publishes four magazines for consumers and professionals and books focused essentially on finance and business. “You’ve got to sit back and do things carefully,” advised Bloomberg. “You can’t jump to the endgame.”