In 1998, Walton was included in Time’s list of 100 most influential people of the 20th Century. Walton was honored for all his capitalist efforts in retail in March 1992, when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush. Forbes ranked Sam Walton as the richest person in the United States from 1982 to 1988, ceding the top spot to John Kluge in 1989 when the editors began to credit Walton’s fortune jointly to him and his four children. At the University of Arkansas, the Business College (Sam M. Walton College of Business) is named in his honor. Walton was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1992.
Sam Walton’s career in retail began in 1940 when he became a sales trainee in a J.C. Penney store. Despite his enthusiasm to serve the customers, Walton was not a model employee. His desire to make his customers happy was so great that he often let other responsibilities like paperwork and keeping the books fall by the wayside. He was almost fired by his boss who told him that he was not cut out for a career in retail. Walton kept his job, however, because of his ability as a great salesman. When he was 27 years old, he purchased a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas. When looking for solid business advice, it’s prudent to seek someone with a proven track record. Sam Walton believed running a successful business boils down to 10 simple rules and they helped Walmart become the global leader it is today. They continue to apply them to every part of our business. He intuitively knew what it took to consistently hit home runs in the retail ballpark. The Walmart story is just another chapter in the history of competition, all part of the evolution of the industry. There’s always a challenger coming along. Some of the emerging competitors in this country who have come from Holland, Germany, and France bear close watching. And it won’t be long before we have a wave of Japanese retail concepts arriving. Wal-Mart is going to have to become a more international company in the near future. Nevertheless, pay special attention to the last rule, it could simply mean “Break all the rules”.
So if you are trying to build a business of some sort, why not get the best mentor you can, just as those guardsmen did? How about Sam Walton, founder of Walmart?
Commit to your business
Believe in it more than anybody else. If you love your work, you’ll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you – like a fever.
Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners
In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations.
Motivate your partners
Money and ownership alone aren’t enough. Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score. Don’t become too predictable. Constantly, think of new and more interesting ways to motivate and challenge your partners. Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score. Make bets with outrageous payoffs. If things get stale, cross- pollinate; have managers switch jobs with one another to stay challenged. Keep everybody guessing as to what your next trick is going to be.
Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners
The more they know, the more they’ll understand. The more they understand, the more they’ll care. Once they care, there’s no stopping them. If you don’t trust your associates to know what’s going on, they’ll know you don’t really consider them partners. Information is power, and the gain you get from empowering your associates more than offsets the risk of informing your competitors.
Appreciate everything your associates do for the business
Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free – and worth a fortune.
Celebrate your success
Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun. Always show enthusiasm. All of this is more important, and more fun, than you think, and it really fools competition.
Listen to everyone in your company
And figure out ways to get them talking. To push responsibility down in your organization, and to force good ideas to bubble up within it, you must listen to what your associates are trying to tell you.
Exceed your customer’s expectations
Give them what they want — and a little more. Make good on all your mistakes, and don’t make excuses — apologize. Stand behind everything you do.
Control your expenses better than your competition
This is where you can always find the competitive advantage. You can make a lot of different mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you’re too inefficient.
Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction. In other words blaze your own path, “break all the rules”.