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Posted on July 26th, 2012, by

The development of business was closely associated with the work of outstanding people, entrepreneurs, who managed to make a breakthrough in the development of their organization or in the development of the industry which their organization operated in. In fact, it is possible to estimate that an individual played an extremely important role in business, especially in the 20th century, when scientific achievements have opened huge opportunities for entrepreneurs to start their business having no backup or any significant financial basis at all. At the same time, many outstanding entrepreneurs managed to overcome a profound crisis in the organization they headed and led them to the dominating position in their industry. In such a context, it is possible to single out several entrepreneurs, who are really unique and original, but who have achieved a tremendous success in the course of their professional work and, even today, some of them maintain a very position in their companies, while their opinion can be significant for the entire industry or even economic life of the entire country. Among these entrepreneurs, it is possible to single out Howard Schultz, Jack Welch, Bill Gates and George Soros. All of them produced a significant impact on the development of the modern business, but either entrepreneur had his own original style and approach to business and management.

On analyzing the work of these four outstanding entrepreneurs mentioned above, it is necessary to point out that they often had to work and  develop their business in very difficult conditions. For instance, Jack Welch was one of the most successful CEO of General Electric Co., who headed the company for twenty years, but he headed the company, when it was in a crisis and his work in the company contributed to the breakthrough of General Electric Co. and made it the leader on the national market. At the same time, his work and his personality are highly controversial and evoke absolutely different feelings and emotions that vary from the total condemnation and contempt to admiration and great respect (Hesselbein, et al., 219). In this respect, his policies in regard to the personnel of the company were particularly noteworthy since it was due to the change of the corporate culture and relationships between Jack Welch and the rest of the personnel as well as between all people working at the company General Electric Co had managed to make a considerable progress in its financial and market performance, though the costs of such a progress are still severely criticized by the opponents of Jack Welch, whose era at General Electric is viewed as a turning point in the history of the company.

In order to better understand the role of Jack Welch and his contribution to the development of the company, it is necessary to point out that he became the CEO at the period when the company had suffered from serious financial and economic problems. To put it more precisely, the major problems the new CEO had started to solve practically immediately after his appointment were the problem of bureaucracy and the low effectiveness of functioning of the company. It is worthy of mention the fact that Jack Welch almost lost his job at General Electric because of bureaucracy and rigidity of its structure.

As a result, when Jack Welch became the CEO he started his twenty year reign with the radical changes, which, to a significant extent, affected social policy of the company. In fact, his first steps as the CEO perfectly illustrate his attitude to the corporate social responsibilities. In this respect, it is necessary to emphasize that he started the radical changes within the company from a series of dramatic restructurings and layoffs. In terms of this policy, from 1981 to 1985, he cut 100,000 jobs (The Jack Welch Era at General Electric). This policy evoked a sharp criticism of his actions but, in spite of protests of workers and the growing dissatisfaction of ordinary employees as well as manager, Jack Welch continued his policy.

Basically, the consistent reduction of jobs contributed to the increasing effectiveness of the performance of the company, which focused on the market expansion. In terms of this strategy of the development of the company, General Electric acquired RCA in 1985 (The Jack Welch Era at General Electric). In such a way, the company started the realization of the strategy of Jack Welch which attempted to make the company the leader of any industry where it operated.

Nevertheless, the considerable reduction of the personnel was rather the corporate social irresponsibility than responsibility because many lost their jobs. Obviously, the reduction could be conducted in less radical way so that the number of jobs cut could be smaller or, at least, it was possible to prolong the period of job cuts making it not so abrupt and unexpected for employees. From the point of view of corporate social responsibilities such policy would be more employees friendly.

In addition, Jack Welch view on corporate social responsibility was basically limited by the focus on increasing profits. In this respect, it should be said that he expanded the broadness of the stock options program at General Electric from just top executives to nearly one third of all employees. In such a way, Jack Welch increased the motivation of employees to improve their productivity and effectiveness of their work. However, at this point, it is possible to argue that such an improvement of financial position or, to put it more precisely, new form of material motivation of employees, cost too much for thousands of other employees who lost their jobs. Anyway, this trend proves that high profits were the priority in Welch’s corporate social responsibility policy.

Nevertheless, it should be said that Jack Welch managed to meet the major goals of his corporate social responsibility strategy since, in spite of layoffs and significant redundancy, he improved the position of employees and managers whose performance constantly improved and whose contribution in the development of the company was significant. On the other hand, those who failed to progress or who were viewed as ineffective for the company would simply lost their jobs as the bottom 10% of managers did.

Thus, it is possible to estimate that the Jack Welch Era at General Electric Co. was extremely controversial. On the one hand, he managed to make the company the leader of all the industries the company operated in, he improved the position of a considerable part of employees and managers minimizing bureaucracy and including a large part of the personnel in the stock options program, while on the other hand, he was Neutron Jack for thousands of employees who lost their jobs. In such a way, Jack Welch used quite radical but effective means to improve the performance of General Electric Co. and improved its position consistently, even though his success was accompanied by numerous losses of jobs by employees who proved to be ineffective for the system developed by Jack Welch.

In this respect, Bill Gates was and still is consistently more liberal and democratic compared to Jack Welch. In fact, Bill Gates had to start his business, when he had practically nothing but his ideas and his friend who became his business partners, Paul Allen, Rick Weiland, and Kent Evan. Unlike Jack Welch, Bill Gates did not really revolutionized the organizational structure and management of his organization, but, he rather made a revolution in the field of software, since together with his partner, Paul Allen, he founded Microsoft, where he became the CEO. In fact, he started his business when there was no such large company as General Electric Co. Instead, he had to develop a totally new company using his researches and technological innovations which he used as the major product his company sold to its customers. In a relatively short period of time, Microsoft became the major software company in the world and, today, the overwhelming majority of modern PCs have Microsoft software installed. In fact, Bill Gates was chief software architect of the company and he successfully combined this position with his position of the CEO. At the same time, he never stopped to be a software architect, which was his true passion which actually brought him to the great success. In addition, it is worth mentioning the fact that Bill Gates attempted to provide his employees, who also work do the development of new software with large autonomy and he did not use such radical steps as a regular job cuts and the selection of best employees as Jack Welch did, since Bill Gates needed creative employees who are able to invent new products and work independently.

Howard Schultz is another successful entrepreneur who is, in a way, similar to Bill Gates, because he achieved his most substantial success due to the successful introduction of his own style of coffees, which were different from those which were traditionally used in the industry. In fact, Howard Schultz was the entrepreneur who brought Starbucks to the tremendous success making this company one of the leaders on the national market. Howard Schultz offered his customers traditional espresso beverages in addition to the whole bean coffee, leaf teas and spices. He introduced his own concept of café and started his business independently from Starbucks, where he actually started his career. But eventually, as his business progressed, he acquired Starbucks and launched an aggressive expansion strategy which resulted on the considerable growth of Starbucks nationwide. The company grew fast and its brand became recognizable for Americans. In this respect, his strategy of the market expansion is similar to the strategy used by Bill Gates, who, though, rather tended to the monopolization of the market, since his company was a leader and had a few serious competitors (Brown, 201). In contrast, Howard Schultz had to work in a highly competitive environment that makes his success even more amazing, but he achieved success mainly due to innovations and creation of a new concept of café, which was different from a traditional one. In such a way, Howard Schultz proved to be able to use his creativity to outpace his rivals and take the advantages position in the industry.

Another prominent entrepreneur who is renowned in the contemporary business environment worldwide is George Soros. Unlike all the other entrepreneurs discussed above, George Soros did not really develop a company which produced some material products. He did not make any technological innovation, but he proved to be a genius financial speculator and stock investor. He is renowned for his breaking the Bank of England on Black Wednesday in 1992 (Mohrman, 187). Today, he is a chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute. In fact, he focused his entrepreneurial activities on the stock market and financial speculations which actually made him rich. However, he was not focused entire on the business but he also takes an active part in the social and political life of the world. For instance, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, supported the Solidarity labor movement in Poland and other civil rights movement in different countries of the world. In such a way, George Soros became a new type of an entrepreneur who combined his business and public activities.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the four entrepreneurs discussed above have managed to achieve a tremendous success which was basically determined by their ability to introduce innovations in the production process, management and business at large. At the same time, all of the entrepreneurs were extremely concerned with the effectiveness of their business and their experience may be very useful for the beginning entrepreneurs.

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