Entrepreneur, Author, Professor, Global CEO

September 10, 2018

5 Simple Ways To Emulate The Greatest Entrepreneur Of All Time

If you’re an entrepreneur, you likely have a role model you carry around in your head as you go about building your business. Maybe it’s Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos or everybody’s seeming favorite, Steve Jobs. Here’s a better suggestion: Sam Walton. Unsexy, to be sure, and not terribly contemporary. But as arguably the most successful entrepreneur of all time, he has more to teach about the basics of entrepreneurship than many of the more dashing entrepreneurs who’ve come after him.

I was recently privileged to reflect on those lessons first-hand when I was granted extraordinary access to the archives of the Walmart Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, while researching a book on entrepreneurship. A diligent team of archivists there, supported by the Walton family and many of Sam’s closest associates, has amassed a warehouse full of Sam’s notes, reports, artifacts and memorabilia.

I reviewed more than 200 documents, several photo collections and almost 100 oral histories. I looked over the archivists’ shoulders as they dug through boxes of Sam’s weekly reports, memos and handwritten notes. I held in my hands his ledger pads filled with sales, cost and inventory numbers organized by store and transcribed by Sam from phone calls or other sources. I had access to materials dating from the time he bought a bankrupt Ben Franklin franchise in 1945 through his launch of the Wal-Mart brand 17 years later and up until he died in 1992.

Here, distilled from that vast treasure trove, are five timeless lessons from Sam that apply to entrepreneurial businesses from start-up to IPO and beyond:


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