Great question. I went to college and worked several years in Michigan (Ann Arbor area). One of my favorite stories of a business starting small and going global is Domino's Pizza - that originated in Michigan.
If you haven't yet heard about Tom Monaghan, "Pizza Tiger" it's worth a read and an interesting story. His strength, boldness and even learning from failures lead to an eventual global brand that is still thriving today.
I had the pleasure of working for Domino's and Mr. Monaghan decades ago, at the headquarters in Ann Arbor. The lessons I took from working for this company and witnessing the tremendous growth and changes that come with becoming a big brand are something I'll always remember.
Leadership can also play a big part in business success. I think having an ability to stick to a solid plan while also remaining open to new ideas, learning from failures, treating others with respect and leading with humility are things that I've seen in successful leaders of big brands.
And great points by others about product, marketing and branding. If you can combine these with great leadership strategies, it can lead to much success.
I also feel it's important to really know the companies I support. What do they stand for? What are they doing to make a global impact? After all, it's not just about profitability. These days, global brands need to be accountable for their actions and be good corporate citizens. I really love hearing about what big brands are doing for others too in our world.
Best wishes to you in your educational and career goals.
Melisa recommends the following next steps:
I would focus on starting with something you are passionate about, then look at what problem is not being solved. Then focus on how you would solve it. Test your product, ask for feedback, keep improving. Very very very few people get rich by doing something they hated.
Market penetration and Market development strategies is how companies like the ones listed by Wayne, became very successful. In addition, the way they brand their products as well.
Example: Coca Cola is known to be very successful with their products, which includes a variety of different types of drinks. However, their success also comes from their branding. They don't think of Coke as a drink in a bottle, but happiness in a bottle.