The 11 rules of highly profitable companies: Best of the Web

The 11 rules of highly profitable companies

From the man who brought us the four-hour work week, self-described human guinea pig Tim Ferris, is this pretty insightful list on what drives profitability.

“How do you generate the most profit with the least effort? How do you maximise margins without sacrificing quality?” Ferris asks.

There’s some strong advice here, that’s probably worth listening to:

“Many companies will sell direct-to-consumer by necessity in early stages, often through a simple website. Only later do they realise that their margins can’t accommodate resellers and distributors when they come knocking. This is true whether your ‘distributor’ is iTunes, a worldwide widget distributor, or Orbitz.”

The five competitive forces that shape strategy

In a follow up to his 1979 essay How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy, economist and associate professor, Michael E. Porter discusses the forces that shape strategy in a video interview for the Harvard Business Review. 

He addresses common misunderstandings, provides practical guidance for users of the framework, and offers a deeper view of its implications for strategy today.

“The strongest competitive force or forces determine the profitability of an industry and become the most important to strategy formulation. The most salient force, however, is not always obvious.”

Why the Trix rabbit looks down on you:

FiveThirtyEight, the new data blog by Nate Silver, looks at how marketing works.

“…[you] might not have thought much about the eye contact of cereal-box cartoon characters. Don’t fret: a new study investigated precisely that.”

Indeed, the study found comic characters depicted on the boxes of children’s breakfast cereals are almost always looking downwards. That’s because in supermarkets the boxes are typically displayed on shelves above a child’s eye-level; the characters, by looking downwards, appear to be looking at the children – in effect, making eye-contact, as a device for gaining attention and increasing trust.

How Gmail happened: The inside story of its launch 10 years ago

Gmail is 10 years old, and Time takes a look back at how it all happened.

When Google launched Gmail on April 1, 2004, the offer of 1GB free storage per user – 500 times what Microsoft’s Hotmail offered – seemed so implausible that some mistook it for a prank.

And so begun a revolution of sorts.

“If you wanted to pick a single date to mark the beginning of the modern era of the web, you could do a lot worse than choosing Thursday, April 1, 2004, the day Gmail launched.”

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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