If there is a single framework that can be applied, and if pursued will guarantee a chance of success for your business, will you do it? What is the secret sauce that separates the successful from the rest?

From Ordinary Business to the biggest market players in the industry

Written on March 25, 2020, by Stephan Yeong

Grants SME Business Startup Singapore Xero

Ordinary to Extraordinary

In today’s day and age, can normal businesses become extraordinary businesses? Do businesses need to be in the latest field or technology to attract investors and scale? In this article, we share the distinctive traits that are seen in these ordinary businesses that transformed them into champions in their field of business.


Stories of Ordinary business that became Leaders in their field

NFM Furniture market was an ordinary business, started by Rose Blumkin, a migrant that couldn’t speak or write English, and with USD2.5k, she started her own furniture business. Today, her furniture business generates a yearly sales of USD1 billion.

Enterprise Car Rental, started by Jack Taylor in his Forties, began with seven cars to rent, competing against national brands like Hertz and Avis with fleets of over hundred thousands of cars. Today, in terms of the size of the company, Enterprise is larger than Hertz and all the other car companies combined.

Closer to home in Singapore, we have the famous Hot Pot brand, HaiDiLao. Started by Zhang Yong, a low wage factory worker, started with a shop with only four tables and a booth. Fast forward today, they are the largest hot pot restaurant in the world with over 466 outlets worldwide.

Traits that can be seen amongst these businesses

Contrary to popular belief that small businesses should compete on pricing against the bigger boys, but the fundamental principle amongst these winning businesses since the beginning was focus on keeping customers in mind and be mindful on the areas that generate growth.

Here is the summary of traits:

  • Determination with a dream– Business owners need to stay in the game, have the vision of the dream and work on building it. This is the bedrock concept startups need to weather through the ups and downs in business. In the case of NFM Furniture Mart, they were operating at razor-thin margins, they had the tagline “Sell Cheap And Tell The Truth”. With this vision in mind, a USP by its own rights, the business continued with optimism and sheer determination. That led to holding on till the end until success was achieved.
  • Customer Experience – According to Jack Taylor, the owner of Enterprise, operating one of the largest car renting company in the world, his creed was solely to delight his customers. In his case, he was no different from the other car renting business in product offerings, with all of them ordering similar cars to lease. But what he offered differently was being the friendliest services anyone has ever seen. He always believed in turning customers into friends.
  • Multiply yourself through others– To scale, businesses need to multiply the vigour and passion of the owner across business units. Jack Taylor, did so by establishing a relationship bond internally. By treating their staff fairly and ensure that their views are appropriately considered, this helped Jack to multiply and scale.
  • Don’t worry about things that they couldn’t change – Things that are out of their influence, they will not bother and allow it to let it affect them. Like the case of the Covid 19 pandemic, there is little business can do against it. But focus on what you can, and that is the customer. Look at areas that you can do for them and the experience you can create.

Through the minds of Customers

If you consider and put yourself in the shoes of your customer, what is the one thing that they can remember? Imagine the purchase you have made, it’s unlikely you will remember the price of the purchase, but more likely you will remember how you felt, the experience you had. Was it bad or was it something that you were fond of. Like Haidilao the largest Hotpot restaurant business in the world, you may not remember what you ordered or the price you paid, but you will remember how well you were treated and the wonderful feeling that you had while dining at the restaurant. Without a doubt, you will likely be a repeat customer when that particular cuisine comes to mind.

In essence, work on developing the experience and centre your business in delighting customers. Find ways to scale by rewarding your employees on creating that experience. It is this added difference that builds up and transforms your business into being extraordinary.

The traits mentioned above is an adaption from Warren Buffet sharing in a business conference on entrepreneurial traits that he has seen and believed that made normal businesses extraordinary.


Warren Buffet in a conference on sharing the key traits on success with startups and aspiring business owners.


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