I tend to read books for lessons that will improve my business or the business of someone else’s. This focus primes my mind to look out for the parts of a book that are of value to an entrepreneur. I don’t really care for the fluff and many of the personal opinions of the writer. I will be sharing book reviews every week starting from today and I promise to only share the parts that will be of value to an entrepreneur who wants to grow his or her business. First book will be Sam Walton’s Made In America. In a latter post I will teach you how to read a 300 page book in 2 hours and how to take effective notes.
A little while ago I met an entrepreneur who was not embarrassed to say he did not know what was working for his competitors. He did not even know what their prices were. I am still cringing. He obviously has never read Sam Walton’s Made in America. One of my favorite quotes from the book is
“Check everyone who is our competition. And don’t look for the bad. Look for the good. If you get one good idea, that’s one more than you went into the store with, and we must try to incorporate it into our company. We’re really not concerned with what they’re doing wrong, we’re concerned with what they’re doing right, and everyone is doing something right.”
The foundation for Walmart’s success comes in 3 parts. They are
1. A Retail concept that works +
2. A professional management team +
3. Systems that support growth.
Here are some of the insights I got from the book. Some of them are direct quotes and most of them will help most retail entrepreneurs.
1. Hire people you can live with not just managers.
If a man can manage his own finances by saving, he can manage a store.
Have promotions of a lot of items at one time but discounted in store or in front.
Have a greeter outside.—Having a greeter outside curbed theft and also improves the customer’s perception of the brand.
Samples: giving samples is a way to get customers into your store or introduced to your product or service.
Merchandise driven people are always looking for how to promote something. Operations people are good at reducing expenses and improve efficiency. You need both people in a retail business especially at scale.
2. On buying trips, expenses should never exceed 1% of purchases. This was Walmart rule at the time.
His one true passion is what he studied all the time and that was discounting: Develop your passions till you can be the best at what you love.
Encourage happiness by taking care of customers, taking care of the stores and taking care of the store staff so their happiness will make an impression on customers.
3. Goal Setting: Set goals and pay the price it takes to get there.
Figure out your pricing and study how to have effective distribution.
4. Networking: Sam Walton joined an association for retailers and this led to him learning about computers and how to use them in retail. This later gave Walmart an edge that many of their competition have yet to recover from. It’s important to join an association of like minded people who are as ambitious as you are.
5. Personal education: Enroll in classes that advance technology or innovation in your field.
Copy and Improve: Take the best out of everything and adapt it to your own needs.
Make employees question their decisions before giving them money so they think harder about what they use money for.
6. Own a majority share of the business and give equity to managers and others.
Walmart saw that a lot of business would come from small towns. He saw that in many States, most people moved from the suburb to the cities and ended up commuting from the cities to the suburbs to work.
Dominate a lot of little tribes of people or towns or schools or places that people don’t respect and you’ll have a lot of small stakeholders. Small groups or the unloved respond very well to attention
Merchandising, finance and distribution are important areas in retail.
7.Put stores in places where tourists visit before you move to where tourists live.
See which way the population is growing and put the store in the way.
Stores on the outskirts of cities were a day’s drive from the warehouse.
Study development patterns because it will inform your decisions on where to place stores.
Have you read Made In America? What were your thoughts?