What Small Businesses Can Learn From Microsoft and Apple

Last Updated: 

March 28, 2023

Microsoft and Apple are two of the most successful companies in the world. They've both been around for over three decades, have loyal customers who love their products and services, and continue to set trends in technology. But how do they do it? How does Microsoft stay relevant after all these years? And what can we learn from Apple's success as a business? Let's take a look at some lessons both companies have learned along the way.

Key takeaways from Microsoft and Apple

  1. Vision and Mission: Establish a clear vision and mission for your business, as both Microsoft and Apple have done. This will guide your decision-making, inspire your team, and create a sense of purpose for your organisation.
  2. Innovation and Product Development: Prioritise innovation and continually develop new products and services that address customer needs. Both companies have a strong history of introducing groundbreaking products that have revolutionised their respective industries.
  3. Customer Focus: Place customer satisfaction at the core of your business, just as Microsoft and Apple have. Strive to understand your customers' needs and develop products and services that cater to them.
  4. Adaptability: Be willing to change and adapt your business strategy in response to market shifts, technological advancements, and customer preferences, as demonstrated by both companies throughout their histories.
  5. Strong Branding: Create a strong, recognisable brand identity that resonates with your target audience. Microsoft and Apple have both built powerful brands that are synonymous with innovation, quality, and user experience.
  6. Strategic Partnerships: Seek out strategic partnerships and collaborations that can help you expand your market reach, enhance your products and services, or strengthen your competitive position, as both companies have done to fuel their growth.
  7. Company Culture: Foster a positive company culture that encourages creativity, collaboration, and continuous learning. Both Microsoft and Apple have cultivated environments that support innovation and employee growth.
  8. Diversification: Diversify your product and service offerings to reduce reliance on a single revenue stream and better weather market fluctuations, as both Microsoft and Apple have done by expanding their portfolios.
  9. Global Reach: Develop strategies for entering new markets and expanding your business internationally, as both companies have successfully done to become global giants.
  10. Resilience: Learn from setbacks and failures, and use them as opportunities to grow and improve your business. Both Microsoft and Apple have faced challenges and obstacles but have remained resilient and continued to thrive.

By incorporating these lessons from Microsoft and Apple into your small business strategy, you can enhance your competitive position, drive innovation, and foster sustainable growth.

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Follow your customers, not the competition.

Listening to your customers is the most important thing you can do as a small business. Listen to what they want, and then give it to them. If you don't know what they want, ask!

Innovation is also key in today's market. You have to stay on top of new trends and adapt quickly if you want your business not just survive but thrive in this changing landscape.

Focus on what you do best, the things that no one else does better than you, and be consistent about it across all channels (digital marketing, social media presence etc). This will help build trust with customers who come back again and again because they know exactly what kind of experience they'll get from doing business with your brand, it'll help set expectations while also eliminating confusion when someone visits one place to another location within the same chain (e.g., having multiple locations means having different names so people know which store they're visiting).

Establish a clear vision and mission for your business, as both Microsoft and Apple have done

Establishing a clear vision and mission for your business is crucial. Vision and mission statements are not only easy to remember, but they also help you stay focused on what's important in the long run.

Here are some tips on how to develop them:

  • Write down what you want to do with your business. This may include things like making money or providing an important service, but it should also include why you started this business in the first place, what motivates you?
  • Then write down who needs what it is that your company does and why they need it (again keeping in mind any motivations for doing so).

Prioritise innovation and continually develop new products and services

You don't have to be a large, publicly traded company with thousands of employees and millions in revenue to be innovative. The best way to ensure your business continues growing is by innovating and developing new products that meet customer demand.

Innovation is key for small businesses because it allows you to stand out from the competition, attract new customers and increase sales over time. You can also use innovation as a way of testing ideas before investing too much money into them, for example, by creating an MVP (minimum viable product) or beta version so you can see how users react before spending lots of resources on development.

Smaller companies have an advantage when it comes to being more flexible than larger ones; they're able to pivot quickly when something doesn't work out as planned without having too much invested yet in one direction only

Be willing to change and adapt your business strategy in response to market shifts

As a business owner, you need to keep an eye on the competition. If you're not changing and adapting your business strategy in response to market shifts, you're likely to fall behind or even go out of business.

For example: Apple was one of the first companies to recognise the potential of smartphones and tablets as computing devices. At first glance this seems like a no-brainer, but remember that Microsoft was also working on its own tablet device at around this time (the Surface). It wasn't until Apple's iPad came out that we started seeing serious momentum toward mobile computing devices taking over from traditional desktop computers as our primary method for getting work done online.*

In addition to being willing to change course when needed, it's important not only that small businesses stay up-to-date with new technologies but also look at what's working well for their competitors before committing resources into projects that may end up being unnecessary or ineffective

Create a strong, recognisable brand identity that resonates with your target audience

In the business world, branding is everything. It's not just about your logo or name; it's about everything you do and say that makes customers want to buy from you.

  • A strong brand identity creates an emotional connection in the minds of consumers. Branding is more than just a logo or tagline, it's also how customers perceive your business (and even how employees see themselves). The best brands are those that have clearly defined values and beliefs, which help them stand out from competitors in their industry category by creating an experience that resonates with their target audience.
  • When Microsoft launched Windows 10 last year after several years' worth of development, they ensured that their new operating system would be compatible with older versions so users wouldn't have any trouble upgrading (or downgrading). This was done partly because Microsoft wanted everyone on board with its latest iteration of Windows as soon as possible but also because this decision helped reinforce its image as an innovator whose products always improve over time while remaining compatible with previous versions, something no other company could claim at such scale combined with quality assurance levels like theirs!

The best ideas sometimes come from the least expected places

There's no denying that Microsoft and Apple are two of the biggest companies in the world. They are also some of the most successful, with billions of dollars in revenue each year. But what sets them apart from other businesses?

The answer is simple: they allow their employees to think outside the box. They encourage innovation, even if it seems strange or out there at first glance (or even second glance). If you want your business to succeed like these two giants have, then you need to do this too!

To help get your brain juices flowing, here are some examples of ideas that came from unexpected places:

Stay focused on improving customer experience

One of the biggest lessons learned by Microsoft and Apple is that you have to stay focused on improving your customer experience. This is one way that small businesses can learn from these giants: make sure your business is meeting the needs of your customers, delivering a good experience for them and listening to what they're saying about how well you're doing those things.

If you're not sure how well you're meeting these goals, ask some friends or family members who have been customers in recent months (or years). If they don't know what their experience was like with your company, it's probably time for some changes!

Apple and Microsoft have both been sticking to their core values and staying focused on what they do best

Apple and Microsoft have both been in business for decades and have experienced many ups and downs along the way, but they've both maintained their competitive edge by sticking to their core values and staying focused on what they do best.

What are core values? They're your company's mission statement, or what you want to accomplish as an organisation. For example: "We want to change the world" or "We want people everywhere to be able to use our products." Once you've established this vision, stick with it! Even if it means making sacrifices along the way (like cutting costs), don't let anyone convince you otherwise, your business will survive because of this commitment to excellence over everything else.

FAQs on the example of Microsoft and Apple

In this FAQ section, we will delve into some of the most frequently asked questions about what small businesses can learn from the remarkable journeys of Microsoft and Apple. 

These tech giants have navigated through various challenges and successes, providing invaluable lessons for businesses of all sizes. 

By exploring their strategies, principles, and methodologies, we aim to offer practical insights and actionable advice that small business owners can apply to their own ventures in order to foster growth, innovation, and long-term success.

What are good branding practices?

  • Branding is the process of creating a unique identity for your business. It's about differentiating yourself from other similar companies, and building trust with customers by communicating your values and beliefs through the words and images used in marketing materials.
  • Microsoft has been around since 1975, but it wasn't until Apple introduced their iconic 1984 ad that people started taking notice of them as more than just "that software company." Since then, they've continued to differentiate themselves by staying relevant, even in an age where most people don't buy software anymore, and staying true to their brand identity (so much so that their latest release came with its own font).

How to establish a clear vision and mission?

  • Define the problem before starting on a solution.
  • Set goals that are ambitious but realistic, and write them down.
  • Don't worry about what other people's goals are; focus on your own.
  • Be specific when setting your fitness goals (e.g., "I want to lose 10 pounds in 3 months" or "I want to run two 5k races in 6 months").

How can my business improve customer relations?

You can improve customer relations by providing a good customer experience. A good customer experience means that your customers are happy with your products and services, as well as how they're treated by you. This includes making it easy for them to do business with you, ensuring that they are satisfied with their purchases, and building trust between yourself and potential clients.

Once you've got these basics down pat, there are other things that can make all the difference when it comes to improving customer relations: positive communication; maintaining integrity; showing empathy toward others' needs (even if those needs conflict with yours); keeping promises made in advertising campaigns or sales pitches; showing empathy toward others' needs (even if those needs conflict with yours).

What are things to consider when developing new products?

One of the most important things to consider when developing a new product is research and development. This can include testing the product on customers, researching industry trends and analysing competitors.

Researching the market for your product is another key aspect of creating a successful product launch strategy. You need to know if there's enough demand for what you're selling and what consumers want from it before committing yourself financially or emotionally (or both) in creating something that no one wants or needs.

Researching manufacturing options is also an important step in planning out how much money will be spent on production versus distribution costs later on down the line so that you're not stuck with inventory sitting around collecting dust because no one knows where they can buy it from!


Microsoft and Apple have both established themselves as leaders in their respective industries, but they've done so by following very different paths. Microsoft has always been known for its forward-thinking vision and willingness to take risks on new technologies, while Apple's focus has always been on providing customers with a well-designed product that works seamlessly together. However, these companies share one thing in common: they're both willing to adapt their business strategy based on what their customers need rather than sticking with what works best for them alone.

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