10 Rules From Sam Walton for Building a Successful Business

Sam Walton grew up poor during the Great Depression, yet rose to start the biggest retail store Wal-Mart.

When Walton died in 1992, the family’s net worth approached $25 billion. Today, Wal-Mart is the world’s #1 retailer, with more than Wal-Mart Stores has more than 5,700 stores, including some 1,350 discount stores, nearly 2,000 combination discount and grocery stores (Wal-Mart Supercenters in the US and ASDA in the UK), and 550 warehouse stores (SAM’S CLUB). Nearly 75% of its stores are in the US (around 3400). It owns 42% of Japanese supermarket chain SEIYU. Wal-Mart also has operations in Asia, Europe, and South America.

Marketers who love business and leadership will find these as great reminders.  Share them with your team and inspire them to reach the next level.  Here are Sam’s Rules:

Rule 1: 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 the best you can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you – like a fever.

Rule 2: Share your profits with all your associates, and treat then as partners. In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations.

Rule 3: Motivate your partners. Money and ownership aren’t enough. Set high goals, encourage competition and then keep score. Make bets with outrageous pay offs.

Rule 4: 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. Information is power, and the gain you get from empowering your associates more than offsets the risk of informing your competitors.

Rule 5: Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. A pay check and a stock option will buy one kind of loyalty. But all of us like to be told how much somebody appreciates what we do for them. We like to hear it often and especially when we have done something we’re really proud of.

Nothing else can quite substitute for well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free – and worth a fortune.

Rule 6: Celebrate your success. Find some humor in your failures. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up and everyone around you will loosen up. Have fun and always show enthusiasm. When all else fails, put on a costume and sing a silly song. Then make everybody else sing with you.

Rule 7: Listen to everyone in your company and figure out ways to get them talking. The folks on the front line – the ones who actually talk to the customer – are the ones who really know what’s going on out there. You’d better find out what they know.

To be able to push responsibility down in your organization, and force good ideas to bubble up within it, you must listen to what your associates are trying to tell you.

Rule 8: Exceed your customer’s expectations. If you do they’ll come back over and over. Give them what they want – and a little more. Let them know you appreciate them. Make good on all your mistakes – and don’t make excuses – apologize. Stand behind everything you do. “Satisfaction Guaranteed” will make all the difference.

Rule 9: 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 are too inefficient.

Rule 10: Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.

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One Response to “10 Rules From Sam Walton for Building a Successful Business”

  1. Jessica on January 11th, 2010:

    Sounds like there may be some “ism’s” in there! 😉

    Great things to remember.

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