What can we learn from Michael Dell?

What can we learn from Michael Dell?

As part of our series “What can we learn from…” this week I wanted to talk about Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers and all around nice guy. With a current net worth of $17.6 billion, his has become a household name, and chances are that you have owned at least one of his products at some point.

But what can we learn from his as far as business skills go? Let’s look at three lessons from the life of Michael Dell. 

1) Look at the data. When he was in high school, Michael had to cold-call residents of his city to try and sell them a subscription to the Houston Post. Instead of simply going through his list day after day, Michael compared the responses of different groups of people and put together a plan.

In his book Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry, Michael explains how he noted that the persons most likely to purchase subscriptions were those in the process of establishing permanent geographic and social presence; he then targeted this demographic group by collecting names from marriage and mortgage applications. Dell earned $18,000 that year, exceeding the annual income of his history and economics teacher.

2) Stay in control. Dell Computers was a public company until October 2013, when Michael bought out all the shares and now has complete control of the company. While some may feel that the move will slow down growth, Michael is more focused on quality and customer experience. More than once, he has said: “Technology is about enabling human potential.” Reaching that potential and fulfilling a personal vision can be hard if your shareholders have to approve your decisions.

3) Diversify. According to Forbes, most of Michael’s money is not tied up in his company. In fact, only about $4.5 billion is related to Dell, and “the rest is in real estate and his investment firm MSD Capital, which has interests in real estate, banks, automotive businesses, and energy companies.”

Following the age old adage of not putting all of his eggs in one basket, Michael Dell has wisely spread out his investments over several categories – including the tried and true world of real estate.

Michael Dell is a true story of a self-made man, who took an idea that he was passionate about to new limits.

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