How Do You Know If You’ve Got a Winning Business?

I’m a Diet Coke zealot and I love to hear how company’s grow over the years, so I did a little digging into the Coca-Cola company. My nephew Kraig once put on a doctor’s coat and gave a presentation to his 6th grade class on the subject so I knew that Coke came from humble beginnings.

On May 8, 1886, a pharmacist named Dr. John Pemberton carried a jug of Coca-Cola® syrup to Jacobs’ Pharmacy in downtown Atlanta, where it was mixed with carbonated water and sold for five cents a glass. Coca-Cola went from selling just 9 cokes a day in 1886 to selling over 500 different brands of Coca-Cola products 125 years later.

If you want to see some cool vintage ads and the history of the Cola-Cola company itself, click this link. //

What if Doc Pemberton had given up? Been disgusted with his measly 9 bottles of coke sold and gone into another endeavor. Called himself a failure and gone back to get a real job? The world would’ve missed out on one of the most successful brands the 20th and 21st centuries have ever known. Sadly, Pemberton died in 1888 and never got to enjoy the fruits of his labor. The rights to the Coca-Cola brand were secured by a businessman for $2,300 and he took the brand into its next round of growth.

Which brings up several interesting lessons we can learn from the late Doc Pemberton and his comrades:

Lesson #1:
You don’t have to be the inventor of a product (or service) to be able to be successful with it.

Lesson #2: Good ideas and good products will not grow oganically. They take sales, marketing, hutzpah and a little bit of luck.

Lesson #3: A tiny brand today could be a mega brand of the next century if it’s handled with care.

Lesson #4: You don’t have to have alot of money to come up with your own good, original idea.

Lesson #5: If you’ve got a good product or service, give free samples away. Until someone’s tried or tasted or experienced your product, they can’t know they need it.

My idea of the perfect way to start every day is with a glass of Diet Coke, and even better if the ice is crushed. Did Doc know he had a winning brand? Probably. He may not have known the magnitude of what he had produced, but my gut tells me he knew it was good.

Your business may not be where you want it to be today, but don’t give up. What woud I be drinking all day long if this small start had fizzled?


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