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Sam Walton’s 10 Secrets to a Successful Business

I recently finished reading Sam Walton’s autobiography “Made in America”. The book covers Sam’s journey from owning a single Five and Dime store in rural Arkansas, to growing Wal-Mart in to the nearly half-trillion-dollar business we know it as today. At the end of the book, he shares 10 rules for running a successful company. Since Sam’s business didn’t turn out half bad, I figured I would share those rules with you here.

Sam Walton's Five and Dime

Sam Walton’s 10 Secrets for Running a Successful Business

  1. Commit to your business – If you run a business, you need to believe in it more than anyone else.
  2. Share your profits – Treat your associates as partners and get them personally invested in the business.
  3. Motivate your partners – Money isn’t enough. Set goals, encourage competition and have fun!
  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. Makes sense, right?
  5. Appreciate everything your associates do for your business – Words often speak louder than money (and they’re free). So instead of just handing out bonuses, make sure to tell people when they’re doing a good job.
  6. Celebrate your successes – Find some creative ways to have fun and celebrate your successes in an enthusiastic way. And don’t forget to find some humor in your failures.
  7. Listen to everyone in your company – The people on the front lines (i.e. your sales team, customer service reps, etc.) know what’s going on with your business, and sometimes better than you do. Make sure you’re finding ways to get them to talk, and that you’re listening!
  8. Exceed your customers’ expectations – Do this and you’ll have repeat customers for life. Let them know you appreciate them, make good on your mistakes, and don’t make excuses.
  9. Control your expenses better than your competition – Efficiency is the cornerstone of Wal-Mart’s business, and they were able overcome a lot of hurdles just by keeping expenses low.
  10. Swim upstream – Ignore conventional wisdom and look for ways to do things differently (e.g. Wal-Mart focused on rural locations one region at a time, while everyone else was starting discount chains in big cities spread across the country). You can often find a niche that will set you apart from the competition.

If these rules worked for Sam Walton, they can work for you. Do you have any tips for running a business that Sam missed?

Written by Andrew Follett
Andrew is the Founder of Demo Duck, a video production agency. He lives in Chicago, loves startups, and enjoys traveling. You can follow him on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.