Walmart as we know it today evolved from Sam Walton’s goals for great value and great customer service. “Mr. Sam,” as he was known, believed in leadership through service. This belief that true leadership depends on willing service was the principle on which Walmart was built, and drove the decisions the company has made for the past 50 years. So much of Walmart’s history is tied to the story of Sam Walton himself.
The Road to Walmart
Sam Walton was born in 1918 in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. In 1942, at the age of 24, he joined the military. When his military service ended in 1945, Sam moved to Iowa and then to Newport, Arkansas. During this time, Sam gained early retail experience, eventually operating his own variety store.
In 1950, the Waltons left Newport for Bentonville, where Sam opened Walton’s 5&10 on the downtown square. He chose Bentonville because Sam could take advantage of the different hunting seasons that living at the corner of four states had to offer. Inspired by the early success of his dime store, and driven to bring even greater opportunity and value to his customers, Sam opened the first Walmart in 1962 at the age of 44 in Rogers, Arkansas.
Sam’s 10 Rules for Building a Business
Sam Walton believed running a successful business boils down to 10 simple rules. These rules helped Walmart become the global leader it is today. 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 it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you – like a fever. 2. 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 beyondyour wildest expectations. 3. Motivate your partners.
Money and ownership alone aren’t enough. Set high goals, encourage competition, and then keep score. Don’t become too predictable. 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. 5. 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. 6. Celebrate your success.
Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun. Show enthusiasm – always. All of this is more important, and more fun, than you think, and it really fools competition. 7. 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. 8. Exceed your customers’ 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. 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’re too inefficient. 10. Swim upstream.
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.
Changing the Face of Retail
Sam’s competitors thought his idea that a successful business could be built around offering lower prices and great service would never work. As it turned out, the company’s success exceeded even Sam’s expectations. The company went public in 1970, and the proceeds financed a steady expansion of the business.
Sam credited the rapid growth of Walmart not just to the low costs that attracted his customers, but also to his associates. He relied on them to give customers the great shopping experience that would keep them coming back. Sam shared his vision for the company with associates in a way that was nearly unheard of in the industry.
He made them partners in the success of the company, and firmly believed that this partnership was what made Walmart great. As the stores grew, so did Sam’s aspirations. In addition to bringing new approaches and technologies to retail, he also experimented with new store formats—including Sam’s Club and the Walmart Supercenter—and even made the decision to take Walmart into Mexico.
Sam’s fearlessness in offering lower prices and bringing Walmart’s value to customers in the U.S. and beyond set a standard for the company that lives on to this day. His strong commitment to service and to the values that help individuals, businesses and the country succeed earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President George H. W. Bush in 1992.
It was during Sam’s acceptance remarks that he articulated what would come to be Walmart’s official company purpose.
“If we work together,” he said, “we’ll lower the cost of living for everyone…we’ll give the world an opportunity to see what it’s like to save and have a better life.”
Mr. Sam’s Legacy
Sam Walton died in 1992, shortly after receiving the Medal of Freedom, but his legacy lives on. To this day, Walmart remains a leader in the retail industry. As a business leader, Sam dares to try and break the routine, which is the key to his success. Although Sam is a extremly strict and insistent person to work, he is always interested in looking for entertainments and makes everyone relax or communicate with others to inspire morale when out of work.That is what we are lack of but need to learn about.