Lesson 1: Don’t sell out. While other search engines were sneaking paid ads into their listings, Google remained pure. Its founders decided that the only things it would ever sell were separate “sponsored links.” They also refused banner ads and pop-ups.
Lesson 2: Defy convention. Google resists the groupthink that dogs the Internet. Example: It keeps its pages bare-naked: no news, no ads, nothing but search.
Lesson 3: Love your product. Everybody says this but practically nobody does it. So, when everybody else in search stopped focusing on research to chase deals, Google poured cash into engineering. Of 1,900 employees, Google has about 600 engineers and assorted gear heads.
Lesson 4: Don’t be greedy. The company advised customers to stop advertising on its site if click-through doesn’t justify it. Example: Google sent a letter to Maryland car-accessory business owner Jim Cancil suggesting that he stop wasting his money.
Lesson 5: Keep your people happy. Remember those resident chefs, masseuses and doctors of the dot-com bubble? Well, Google never fired them. They cost relatively little, and the payoff is turnover in the low single digits and a better-than-90-percent job acceptance rate. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that going public could turn Google employees into millionaires.
— Adapted from “What Your Company Can Learn From Google,” Melanie Warner, Business 2.0.