How to Climb the Corporate Ladder and/or Crush your Competitors: Warren Buffett’s Side Business

A trend and pattern of successful businesses have focused on their side biz allude most of their own customers. It’s almost invisible value that really does amount to the value that makes them so successful. The difference between leading companies and ordinary companies is that the leading companies have two businesses. Their primary industrial business and their concept/emotional impacting side business. Not to be confused with side project.* Which most don’t work out. 

This can be called vision. Vision has a lot to do with it. But vision without action is just vision.

This is more simple, idealistic and practical. Yet allusive.

When Ray Kroc, the co-founder of McDonalds, asked a Stanford business classroom what business he is in. The student body burst out laughing. One courageous student  confidently answered. “The hamburger business”

“Wrong.” he said

“I’m in the Real-Estate business”

How true is this statement? Like other large sprawling food and drink companies, this is their answer as well (Starbucks, Wal-Mart).

The disruptive “Uber” car service business is not in the taxi business, as it doesn’t own taxi’s. 

It’s in the match-making business. (It matches drivers to customers)

When ever you’re asked what business you are in. You have to look at what side business that actually provides the value to take you over the top. 

You may be a marketer by profession. But what business you’re really in is the Customer Attraction business. Not the same thing.

Warren Buffett is an investor. But his side business is Market/Shareholder/Business Influence (He took a Dale Carnegie’s course on Influence before starting out as an investor). The key to raising money by influencing people is the investing business. Not the other way around. If he had not picked investing as his profession, he would have had a leg up to influence his fellow colleagues and executives to move up the ladder.

Jay-Z/Dr.Dre are rappers, but are in the talent management and the ecosystem (apart of Apple’s ecosystem) business, respectively.

Apple Inc, is not only in the consumer product business. They are in the ecosystem business. 

Nike is not just a shoe or lifestyle company. They are in the self-help business.

What is the commonality of these side businesses or by-businesses? Emotional Impact.

This is applicable to anyone, an employee, a business owner, partner, laborer.

Back in the day, I was a dishwasher, but to the ladies I was in aquatic engineering. 

Seriously, this one of the key things of how businesses differentiate and out pace their competitors. Facebook out side bizzed Myspace, Friendster, and even Google in the social networking industry. They solved user authentication and other hard social engineering problems that revolutionized social networking. is in the online book business. Now they are in the cloud engineering business.

What will Netflix’s side business be? or will they ever have one? Blockbuster never did either.

So when you think of yourself one dimensionally, you box yourself in.

But when you start thinking of the unique key activities (KA) you personally, or your business operate in, think about your side business’s concepts. These are the secrets to beating your competition, climbing the corporate ladder (Entrepreneur vs Employee Mindset). Don’t be just an employee in a business. But become the point man in the employee/executive leadership business.

Keep in mind, this is not breaking the irrefutable laws of marketing by venturing into another industry just because you’re powerful. On the contrary, it’s a side business in the same industry, Plan B is actually stronger than Plan A. It’s the ace up the sleeve in the face of competition.

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change. – Creative Thinkering

This has definitely altered the way I think hopefully yours as well.


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