5 Things Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Coca-Cola

by Nick Scheidies

Sometimes we forget that even the biggest companies started out as small ideas. Today, The Coca-Cola Company earns over $15 million of pure profit every day – but it actually lost money in its first year.


#1 Profits Don’t Come Right Away

Since young companies need time to develop, they often require hours of labor with little monetary reward. Time is just like any other investment: if it’s well-spent, it will pay off.

In the case of Coca-Cola, John Pemberton lost $20 in his first year selling the syrup. He wasn’t making any money then, but he was laying the foundation for the next year’s profits (and the 100+ years after that).

#2 Failures are Stepping Stones

Every time you make a mistake, that means there’s one fewer mistake between you and success. The best way to learn how to do something is to totally fail at it – and then reflect on what you could have done differently.

There’s no point in feeling discouraged. Simply learn and change.

#3 Don’t Resist Change

Pemberton’s brain tonic was supposedly a cure for horrible-sounding ailments like, “Neuralgia,” “Hysteria…” and “Melancholia.” But there’s no way that Coca-Cola would be the huge corporation it is today if they hadn’t started marketing their beverage as a soft drink.

As an entrepreneur, don’t let carefully-laid plans blind your eyes to better opportunities.

#4 It’s Never Too Early to Start Branding

By sticking with a tasteful, timeless image, Coca-Cola has turned their logo into an icon. Your brand starts on the same day as your business – so be deliberate and consistent from the get-go.

Even if your business doesn’t have a logo or color scheme, you still have a brand to maintain. You’re building your brand every time you talk with a client or type out a tweet.

#5 Brand Big

Brands like Nike, Apple, and Coca-Cola have permeated the collective subconscious by embodying big feelings and ideas.

Of course, those companies also have multi-million dollar marketing budgets and you probably don’t. But if you have a firmly set vision for what feelings and ideas you want people to associate with your business, it will show through.

The Biggest Brand in the World

Today, Coca-Cola is widely considered the biggest brand in the world – but it has something in common with even the smallest start-up: it began with just an entrepreneur and an idea. How will you apply the story of Coca-Cola to your own business?

Do you agree with Interbrand that Coca-Cola is the biggest brand in the world — or have tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple surpassed the Coke brand? Sound off in the comment section below.

About Nick Scheidies

Nick is an American writer, musician, and entrepreneur.

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40 comments so far… Leave a reply

  1. Dr. Michael Haley

    Thought provoking when it comes to branding... and secret ingredients. Which is interesting because tech companies like Google also keep their algorythms and the like top secret.

  2. Gregg

    Nice video! I worked for Coca Cola in varying marketing and managerial roles for eighteen years. I like your point about Brand Big. If you associate your business with the feeling you want people to have when they used your product then you are way ahead of your competition because most are selling features. You hit the nail right on the head! Great video, great content. Gregg Zban The Guru Hub

    • Nick Scheidies

      Thanks, Gregg -- that's cool to hear from somebody who actually helped build the Coke brand. (Nice work, btw)

  3. Marie

    Thanks for the great video!

  4. Mitja Drame

    Great article, it's very inspiring! We all need to work hard and smart. Results will come and profits too, if we will be persistent! Just don't give up. Every failure is a step closer to success. Best wishes, Mitja

  5. Drej

    Awesome Awesome Awesome:-) Sure, I wanna make my brand the next big buzz, not on 18th attempt though!

  6. Nimantha Dias

    Woooow I never knew these information. Great 5 lessons from a nice video. Thanks

  7. Szymon Nowak (IMBLOG)

    Nice video, it can go viral with coca-cola in name :)

  8. Jogos gratis

    I always respected Coca-Cola as a big company. Coca-cola, McDonalds, Microsoft, Google and Apple are for me the top brands in the words. It's unbelievable how a 2 years old baby can recognize the M from McDonalds miles away. Due to the fact they promote their brand the right way, they keep growing and getting more fans.

  9. Eric

    I'm a Pepsi drinker lol......but nevertheless, as an entrepreneur, I have a great deal of respect for Coca-Cola. Even more now after seeing this blog post. Good stuff man.

  10. Lucrative Blogs

    Job well done Nick! Michael knows how to pick great guest writers. This is a very inspirational piece, a lot of readers can probably relate to loosing money their first go around in this business. Just keep at it and eventually things turn around and head in the opposite direction. Thanks again Nick.

  11. Kevin

    I'm a big believer in making your website a brand. I had a custom template ($400) and custom mascot ($400) created for my main sports site and spent a lot of time with branding. It pays off now as I get 30-50 searches per day for my brand name. Even Google recognizes me as a brand in the SERPs.

  12. Brendon Held

    Awesome video Nick.! To answer your question, while Google and Microsoft etc are obviously huge, there are two reasons I would lean to Coca Cola as the biggest: 1) Any of the other brands mentioned haven't been around since the 18:00's and survived the test of time. 2) If you go into the deepest part of Africa such as Mozambique, most of those people haven't seen or used a computer, let alone know what Microsoft or Google are, yet they ALL know Coca Cola and its family of main stream products. The Coke brand really does reach all the corners of the earth where you find people in my opinion...

    • Nick Scheidies

      Exactly! Coca-Cola is global in a way that's impossible for those other companies.

  13. Hersha

    Hey cool video...I would have to completely agree with #5 about branding. It's important to remember that fundamentally a brand is a idea...and Coca Cola is not in the business of selling soft drinks (as far as branding is concerned) they are in the business of providing lasting/timeless memories. Wish I could claim credit for the above conclusion...but I got it from Mad Men...gotta love Don Draper :)

  14. Dwight

    Great inspirational story, love these original startup journeys. Dwight Anthony Financially Elite Blog dot Com

  15. deva

    Awesome review ever seen..case study !!!

  16. John

    Nice video. Gives me hope in building my online empire!

  17. Annoy344

    I say Coca-Cola!

  18. Faisal Reza

    That was very inspiration videos. In additional, my mentor, Irfan Khairi was said that other factor successful on Coca-Cola is about the Red color in Coca-Cola branding. Red color stick in people's retina longer than others color, blue is number 2. that's why most branding in the world in red color like Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and in blue color, like Facebook, Twitter, and many more.

    • Nick Scheidies

      That's true. Color psychology plays a huge role in branding. Red evokes energy, whereas blue evokes trust. Kissmetrics has made a beautiful infographic on the subject.

  19. Sumon Rahman

    Nice post really. Also very helpful for the Creative Bloggers!

  20. Sonia

    Very inspiring post Nick! Profoundly written with all the ingredients and basic factors that enable an entrepreneur to be successful. These are facts and not fiction. Thanks for sharing such great ideas and tips.

    • Nick Scheidies

      Thanks, Sonia.

  21. Sonia

    Nick, I just wanted to add to my previous post by stating that CoCo Cola does business in a very unique and focused manner, and it is done globally. Their business blueprint has been carefully designed and for sure it works.

  22. Raza

    nice post the video make it more effective

  23. John Deen

    Yeah, profits don't come right a way sure is true.... I'm loosing right now trying to get break even.

    • Nick Scheidies

      I was once there too, John. Keep at it, keep improving. You'll see a change.

  24. manil

    coca-cola has a great marketing policy .I have seen many places where water bottle is not available but can have a chilled coca cola...........

  25. Gloria J. Hughes

    Great video. Well written with all the ingredients and basic factors that enable an entrepreneur to be successful. These are facts and not fiction.

  26. Internet Marketing With Mark

    This is interesting, yeah I'd say they probably are the biggest brand in the world however other brands aren't far behind, the likes of Red Bull are pretty huge, they spend 30% revenue (not profit) actual revenue on advertising.

  27. profoundtigger

    Its surprising how many people think that starting your own business is easy, what few know is that most businesses lose money, only few actually become successful. Like the saying goes " you need to spend money to make money".

  28. preestineart@wordpress

    great article, i am a big Warren buffet fan and I have watched him talk about and sell cocacola a few times they heard I think it comes with hiving the ability to visualize your future and you sticking with it all the way.

  29. Aaron

    I think you forgot the biggest things, people buy based on emotions!!! They know coke is bad for health, yet they keep drinking it, amazing! Coke advertising is exactly it: the good life, feel happy... People want this emotion no matter what goes in their body :)

  30. metalpig

    The power of branding.. and for me, Coca-Cola is still the number 1 brand. :P Awesome post Nick.. =)

  31. Katey

    Great Video and well written content. http://earningonline-dreamersdream.blogspot.com/

  32. abdul fitaah garasoow

    Coca-Cola other factor successful on Coca-Cola is about the Red color in Coca-Cola branding. Red color stick in people’s retina longer than others color, blue is number 2. that’s why most branding in the world in red color like Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and in blue color, like Facebook, Twitter, and many more.

  33. Deindra

    its a nice information..thank you.

  34. Annamalai Nagappan

    Yes, you saying is correct "No body can become rich by one night".It's about creating your brand and getting a unique place for you.

  35. Bloxzy

    Haha, this is great... I love articles like these, the video is well put together and very amusing.

The comments are closed.