Last weekend I watched the entire “Men Who Built America” DVD series. If you haven’t seen it yet I recommend that you check it out because it’s quite entertaining and you can learn some stuff from it too. It’s on Amazon here.
I don’t know if everything presented was factual or not, but after you are done watching it you start thinking about business a bit differently 🙂
The main characters in the series were John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford, and Cornelius Vanderbilt.
Some of them were ruthless but you can’t deny the fact that they knew how to dominate and take over an entire industry. They knew how to make money and lots of it.
Vanderbilt dominated the rail road industry. His main objective was to be the #1 provider in the country and he was. Whenever he had a chance to take out his competition he did. He eventually got beat at his own game but for a long time nobody could compete with him.
John D. Rockefeller (the oil man) – He made a fortune thanks to Vanderbilt and then eliminated him from the equation altogether. He built his own pipeline and raked in the money. He also realized that there was more money to be made in transporting and refining his product than actually digging for it. He was right!
Andrew Carnegie (the steal man) – He ran the Carnegie Steel company which was the #1 producer of steal in the country at the time. He also didn’t like competition and whenever he had a chance to eliminate them he did. In my opinion, he was the winner of the game they all played. He was the only one with an exit strategy. He got to the top and got out just in time by selling his company to J.P. Morgan for more money than the entire budget of the USA at the time. Carnegie also gave away most of his money before he died.
Henry Ford – Proved that if you have a better product than your competition you can still succeed even though the odds are stacked against you. He built a better car and streamlined its production. His cars were less expensive to manufacture and higher quality.
J.P. Morgan – He wanted it all. He knew how to invest money and consolidate entire industries. Morgan owned shares in a lot of companies and whenever he could just buy them out he would. He was the bank of USA at the time. Not only he was rich but he also had a lot of influence in politics. J.P. Morgan would do whatever it takes to protect his way of doing business at all costs.
For those guys (except maybe Henry Ford) business was a game. They all wanted to be #1 at what they were doing. It wasn’t just about money for them, it was about being better than their rivals.
So after watching the entire series I thought about different ways you could apply their tactics and strategies to the online world.
Back then there was no anti-trust or monopoly laws. If you had the money you could just buy everything and everyone – Everyone has their price…as they say.
Now it’s not as simple, but we do see the same thing happening between Microsoft and Google for example.
Google keeps acquiring companies left and right. They continue exploring new industries and getting rid of competitors any way they can. It’s easy to do when you own the search market. If they want to buy your business, you better sell, because if you don’t they will create a competing service and push you down in search.
Anyway, how can someone like you or me apply these strategies to get on top in the vertical we want to dominate in?
For example, let’s say you rank already in your niche on the front page of Google. You know that things can go wrong and you could lose that position overnight if Google decides to change their algo tomorrow.
You could start buying out all your competitors that rank there too or those who try to get to the top. I would start looking each day at page 2+ in Google and see if there is anyone I could simply buy out. You know they don’t rank yet so they might just decide to get out if you offer enough.
There are no laws that say you cannot do that. The internet is still pretty wild and you could literally take over an entire vertical by modeling J.P. Morgan’s tactics 🙂
If you own a lot of good sites in your niche it’s easy to stay on top no matter what Google decides to throw at you. Even if your main site drops, now you got a network that you can tap into for links. If you were smart about linking your sites without making it too obvious you could have a new site on top within weeks.
If things go as planned you could at the end own the entire front page of search results in your vertical and nobody would ever even know except you.
You might not be able to buy existing brands but there are plenty of niches that are not dominated by any of the big sites yet. The big sites are not your competitors anyway. Those little guys are that are on their way to the top. If you can stop them from doing so while at the same time taking advantage of what they have already done up until now then why not? Who can stop you from buying them all?
“When you expect things to happen – strangely enough – they do happen.” – J.P. Morgan
You got to set high expectations for yourself. You need to believe that you are or going to be the #1 guy that nobody can mess with. If you think like that and act on it then slowly you start dominating in your industry.
I don’t know…I think there is definitely something to learn from those guys I mentioned. Maybe they were taking things to extremes but you can’t deny the fact that the business strategies they used helped them get to the top. They owned it all.
Do you have what it takes to own it all?