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Sam Walton's Rules for Success

August 6, 2009

Read these (my comments follow) and see how they might fit into your business plan. Take note that even in this tough economy, Wal-Mart is prospering.

1- Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anyone does. Passion is at the top of the list of the skills you need to excel. When you have passion, you speak with conviction, act with authority and present with zeal. If you don't have an intense, burning desire for what you are doing, there's no way you'll be able to work the long, hard hours it takes to become successful.

2- Share profits with your employees. If you treat them as partners, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will perform beyond your wildest dreams. Employees are the life-blood of any good company. Many companies seem to have fancy incentive programs for the big wheels, but smart companies have bonuses and profit-sharing all the way down the line. It was recently announced that this year, each Wal-Mart employee will receive a "bonus" check for more than $900!

3- Motivate your partners. Money and ownership are not enough. Set high goals, encourage competition and then keep score. Competition makes you better and stronger. You should not only welcome stiff competition, you should actively seek it. You'll never realize your full potential unless you're challenged. Similarly, if you don't set goals to determine where you're going, how will you know when you get there? You must stay focused on your goals above all else. Truly dedicated individuals won't let anything interfere with attaining their goals.

4- Communicate everything you possibly can to your employees. The more they know, the more they will understand. Information is power, but it must be used to empower your workforce. You will be amazed how a few snippets of information can transform a business into a powerhouse.

5- Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. In addition to point #2, find ways to let your employees know that you value their contributions. Invite your customers to share their stories of great service and post them for all to see. Catch people doing a good job and let them know you notice. It keeps everyone motivated and does wonders for retention. Remember that your successes result from a group effort.

6- Celebrate your successes. Find some humor in your failures. Don't take yourself so seriously. Maintain a positive tone, even when things don't go as planned. Although a failure may not be funny at the time, there's always a lesson to be learned. Often, the lesson learned is humility.

7- Listen to everyone in your company, and figure out ways to get them talking. Many people think that communication means getting others to do what you want them to do. For them, good listening means, "I talk, you listen." These people have forgotten the basic truth about being a good listener: Listening is a two-way process. Yes, you need to be heard. You also need to hear the other person's ideas, questions and objections. If you talk at people instead of with them, they're not buying in—they're caving in.

8- Exceed your customers' expectations. There's one thing no business has enough of: customers. Take care of the customers you have and they'll take care of you by coming back—and bringing their friends. On the flip side, disappoint customers, and they'll disappoint you—and then disappear.

9- Control your expenses better than your competition. Wal-Mart tries to help its customers follow this rule. If you aren't already watching pennies, start now.

10- Swim upstream. If everyone else is doing it one way, there is a good chance you can find your niche by going in the opposite direction. Following the crowd leaves you with very little room to maneuver.

Mackay's Moral: If a business can survive and thrive in these times, they must be playing by some smart rules.  

Courtesy of Harvey McKay