To be a market leader, you have to have big goals. You can’t just look at the past or the current state of the market. You also have to look at where it’s likely to go, and where it might go under certain circumstances, and then direct your company according to your best predictions.
To win big, sometimes you have to take big risks. Big bets mean big failures as well as successes. Today, looking back, it’s easy to believe that Microsoft’s current success was inevitable. But at the time we made our big bets—including starting the company as the first personal computer software firm—most people thought we would fail.
Many leading companies hesitated to move to new technologies for fear of ruining the success of their existing technologies. They learned a hard lesson. If you don’t take risks early, you’ll decline in the market later. If you bet big, though, only a few of these risks have to succeed to provide for your future.
Risk taking is natural in a new industry. The computer industry is about as far into its development as cars were in the 1910s and planes were in the 1930s. Those industries went through revolutionary, and often messy, technical and business change before they became stable, and the same thing is happening in the computer industry.