10 Lessons Bill Gates can Teach You about Making a Boatload of Money

Bill Gates

Getting into business is one thing and making money from it is another thing altogether.  You must have surely come across stories of people who lost all their money on entrepreneurial schemes and then had to get back to work. Then there is the chilling story of the failed entrepreneur who was unable to find a job…..

Do these scenarios scare you? Are they coming in your way of pursuing your passion? How do you make sure your business gives you more than a comfortable lifestyle – a luxurious one? In other words how do you make a boatload of money from business?

There is a saying “Seeing is believing”. If I were to offer you advice on making money, you would not probably give it a second thought (except perhaps to do the exact reverse of what I suggest).

But if you were to receive advice from Bill Gates, it would be a different matter altogether. Here is a man who built his business from scratch, created one of the strongest companies in recent times, became a billionaire at the age of 32 and remained at the helm of ‘World’s Wealthiest’ lists for years on end. Surely all of us can learn from his methods and techniques, because obviously he has got it right.

Well, here it is then:

 

10 Lessons Bill Gates can Teach you About Making a Boatload of Money

  1. Identify Your Passion

Identify your specific area of interest so that you are motivated to work on late into the night (literally and figuratively) to ensure success.  It is possible that you may discover your passion by accident as did Gates.

In 1968, Bill Gates’ school Lakeside, purchased a state of the art computer. Young Bill Gates could not keep away from the machine. He and a group of like–minded friends would spend hours creating programs for the computer by trial and error. Bill Gates later said that “he was fascinated by how perfectly the code was executed by the computer. Thus he discovered his passion, which eventually led to the founding of Microsoft and made him the wealthiest person in the world.

Remember when something is your passion, working on it is no longer just a ‘job’.

 

  1. Dare To Make Unconventional Choices to Pursue Your Passion

After graduating from Lakeside, Bill Gates enrolled into Harvard. He kept working software codes all through his time at Harvard and when there was an opportunity for a commercial business venture with Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) for developing software for the new mini-computer Altair 8800, Bill Gates didn’t hesitate to drop out of the prestigious institution.

This was a risky decision. What if the venture had not succeeded? But not taking the risk would have meant loss of the opportunity.

Be prepared to make difficult choices if you want to make money as an entrepreneur.

 

  1. Be Quick To Spot Opportunities

When Bill Gates read about the Altair 8800, the new mini computer to be launched by MITS in the Jan 1975 edition of Popular Electronics, he instantly identified an opportunity for a possible business venture.

The ad in Popular Electronics which Bill Gates interpreted as an opportunity

We can safely say this was the crucial point from which the idea of Microsoft emerged and soon became multimillion dollar reality.

Always keep your eyes and ears open. You never know when an opportunity will pass you by.

 

  1. Be Confident About Your Abilities

The story goes that Bill Gates contacted MITS chairman Ed Roberts and said that he and his partner had been ideating and creating BASIC interpreter program for the Altair 8800. While in reality, except for the idea that such a program could be developed, not even a single line of code had been written.

They were asked to come in for a demonstration. Gates and Allen created the program within a few short weeks and the subsequent demonstration was a huge success and became Microsoft’s first commercial deal. Microsoft was officially founded a month later.

Though I am not advocating you lie to your customers, the take home here is a confidence in your abilities to make good on your promises. If you are unsure of yourself, the consequences will not be pretty, and you know that.

 

  1. Have an Overview of the Industry

In 1980, IBM approached Bill Gates for development of an operating system for their upcoming PC. Gates knew that the 86DOS operating system had been developed by Seattle Computer Products (SCP) for hardware like a PC. Rather than work from the scratch on development, Gates entered into an agreement with SCP and became the sole licensing agent for 86-DOS, adapted the software specifically for the PC and had the product delivered to IBM as required.

Note that no business can survive in isolation in the market. There are several opportunities for collaboration within the industry which you must utilize to make the most of your business.

 

  1. Quality Control is Paramount

As Microsoft grew and there were professional programmers in place, Bill Gates was never disconnected with what was happening with his company’s products. He reviewed (and sometimes even revised) each line of the code. He did this not because he did not trust his programmers, but because he took a personal responsibility for the quality of the products delivered to customers.

As your business grows, make sure that there is no compromise on quality. And always be in touch with your products. They are going to earn money for you.

 

  1. Give the Customers What they Want

Microsoft has always been at the forefront in identifying the latent customer needs and then offering the next version of Windows that addresses that need. Since the launch of Windows 3.0 in 1990 (which was their first successful product), we have seen how the software has grown to add value to customers’ lives.

People don’t buy a product because it has a great tagline or because it costs less. They buy the product because it solves a problem for them. Once you have this figured out, the money will flow in.

 

  1. Don’t Give Up

Though it sounds like a cliché, it is actually true. Windows 1.0 was not a great success, while the next version 2.0 did moderately well. Bill Gates persisted and developed Windows 3.0 with a graphical user interface and that was the turning point for both Bill Gates and Microsoft.

 

  1. Think Ahead and Don’t be Discouraged by Detractors

Bill Gates had figured out early on that the future of operating systems is graphic interfaces. The idea was quite revolutionary at the time and was not very well received. Critics said that the graphic user interface codes would be too complicated to execute and would slow down the system. But Microsoft was not discouraged and continued development efforts in this direction and released the Windows 1.0 in 1985. The rest we know.

For the business to succeed and make money, you have to look ahead. Have faith in your vision and that should silence detractors.

 

  1. Act on Customer Feedback

Bill Gates famously said once “Your unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. If your customers are not happy with your product, you had better change it to their preferences if you want to remain in business. The Windows Vista fiasco was one such example.

 

The ‘not very warm’ reception to Windows Vista pushed Microsoft to address all issues in their next version – the Windows 7 and also fast tracked the development time. Windows 7 was launched less than 2 years after Windows Vista.

From what I have read and researched about Bill Gates and Microsoft, these are some of the lessons that I thought were relevant for making money. What do you think? Is there something I may have missed? I would love to hear from you in the comments.