13 December 2010

Currently Reading: Direct from Dell

I love a "success story" - I particularly like those where the hero/heroine has to battle through, wading against the odds. In the case of autobiographies/memoirs of business leaders, the "odds" come from the competition or others saying "You'll never make it; you can't do THAT!"

I've just finished the first part of Direct from Dell and that is what I have enjoyed most. His constant drive and belief in himself. Of course, he got it right. Like Bill Gates, he had a vision that was aligned with how Western Society was developing and so was able to push his dreams through.

Like most entrepreneurs, Michael Dell began doing business early on in life, by the age of 12, auctioning stamps. His love of computers and his desire to make them more effective were already prominent at the age of 15, in 1980. At 15 he convinced his parents to let him buy an Apple II, only to take it apart the moment it was delivered - much to the fury of his parents who didn't share his curiosity about how the machine worked.

By the age of 17, he was obsessed with how to make personal computers more effective and was already upgrading them for others in his bedroom. By the time he got to university, he had turned his computer-driven obsession into his own small business.

Of course his parents were keen for him to "leave that computer stuff" and continue with his studies. I'm definitively glad he didn't.

Having led a life of diverse self-employment and what some have called "entrepreneurship" myself, I completely share the sentiment of wanting to do something a little bit outside the norm and feeling misunderstood. So I really enjoyed Michael Dell's story of creating his place in an industry that was pretty much in its infancy and seeing opportunities where others just saw a big waste of time.

I am curious though, to see how retail selling (introduced for the second time in 2007 in the USA) has changed the business. Abandoning Dell's policy of only selling directly to the customer is referred to by Michael Dell as one of his greatest mistakes, so I would very much like to know the process that led them to try it once again. I imagine the experiment was successful the second time as Dell computers can now be purchased in stores in the UK.

Anyone with info on this, please post it my way.

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