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Walmart: How It Grew From A One Room Store To An International Success

Smruthi Kishore

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Back in the year 1940, when Sam Walton was just a Ben Franklin franchise owner in the nondescript town of Newport, Ark., he had a tiny blip of an idea. At that point, he did not realise his still developing idea was going to become such a huge success and he had no intention of working on it. Until at that point. Like any retailer worth his salt, Walton also looked at how to make the best out of deals from retailers.

Even though Walton was ranked as the richest man in the United States by the year 1980, looking for deals came naturally to him. In fact, he would refuse to go for a haircut that cost more than $ 5! When Walmart was founded, Sam realised he could basically double his profit by making his consumers happy and increasing the sales output in his company. At the time, his employees were required to deposit ten cents a cup in the jar as “coffee tax.”

Sam founded Walmart in 1945 with $ 20,000 borrowed from his father in law and a world changing idea in hand. Back then, his first store started with low priced goods and longer timings as compared to any of his other competitors. His margins were small, but he sold large quantities, which meant he could bargain for even lower prices from wholesalers. Essentially, Walton’s policies were those which drive smaller local stores out of business.

Even when he was worth close to $ 24 billion, Walton drove around in a pickup van and often borrowed money from his employees (it should be the other way around, but this seemed to work for him.) “Some people try to turn it into this ‘Save the Small Town Merchants’ deal, like they were whales or something that have a right to be protected,” he wrote in his autobiography.

From being a simple, one store operation in Newport, Walmart now has close to 4000 outlets in the United States and more than 3000 in countries outside the US. If frugality was a regime his employees protested, it was never brought to light. To make Walmart’s vision known to the public, Walton launched a “Made In America” campaign in the year 1945, as per which he sold American made products if suppliers could get within 5% of the price of a foreign competitor. This may have compromised the bottom line in the short term, but Walton understood the long term benefit of convincing employees and customers that the company had a conscience as well as a calculator.

To make his employees feel like they belonged to the company as a whole, Walton further ensured every employee a long term stake in all the profits and loses alike! At Walmart, to ensure team spirit and employee building, all the staff are required to take the pledge every morning as a sign of respect and belonging! Despite the company having tough times post Walton’s demise, the employees took matters into their own hands and ensured the long and successful run the company had had in the years before.

While Walmart seems ruthless and over bearing now, it started off with a very simple story and an idea to make it big in an ordinary world. If you think we missed out some parts of Walmart’s story to the big leagues, feel free to comment and tell us and we will add it to the list!

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Entrepreneur Stories

Larry Ellison Life Lessons

Smruthi Kishore

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Larry Ellison: flamboyant, eccentric, one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs and named as one of the most successful people in the field of tech, has taught people around him a lot. From almost failing at his dream to more than being a force to be reckoned with, Ellison has done it all. At almost 72 years of age, with a company worth close to $ 200 billion, there is a lot this great man has taught the business and tech world. If you find yourself in a rut and with no way to get out, here are some lessons you need to learn from the tech guru of the world!

1. A degree is just an accessory, not a requirement

For some unfathomable reason, college dropouts are the ones who end up becoming successful in whatever they want to do. Ellison is a special case. He dropped out of college not once, but twice! The second time over, Ellison realised college was not his cup of tea and decided to move to California at 22 years of age. Thankfully for him, he had stayed in school long enough to understand the basics of computer design. A couple of years later, he created a database from scratch just by reading a paper on the subject! Not bad for a two time college dropout, right?

2. Retiring is for the weak 

Larry Ellison was perhaps the longest serving CEO in the history of CEOs so far. A 70 year old CEO at the time was completely unheard of and Ellison practically broke the record at the time. Looking at how Ellison broke the age misconception, other CEOs also started following his trend and now, CEOs everywhere are following this surprising trend!

3. Be greedy and needy 

Worth over $ 49 billion, Ellison is now the fifth richest man in the world. Despite being so well to do, the man did not and could not stop. In fact, in the year 2002, Ellison was one of the highest paid CEOs and earned close to 18% of the total revenue made by Oracle! The lesson here? It is okay to be greedy and needy. You have worked hard for what you have, so why not reap the rewards?

4. Cut off the people who do not help you grow 

Silicon Valley, famous for being home to several successful entrepreneurs, is also infamous for being home to the casual dresser. Ellison decided to nip this habit by letting people know that he was in the market only for people who were very serious about their work. Also, Ellison is also known as the original geek of the tech world, making geeks look good world over!

5. If you have got it, then you should also spend it

The atrociously wealthy Ellison has one basic flaw to his character: he is a spendthrift. From being a true philanthropist and helping in improving the medical field, Ellison has also spent a hoard on monetary acquisitions. He owns two airlines (yes, more than one,) part of an island in Hawaii and at least a couple of mansions in strategic locations around the world. If that is not living in luxury, I do not know what else is.

This brilliant man, with his dreams of achieving something truly extraordinary in life, has managed to leave an awestruck and inspired audience in his wake. If you have been truly inspired by Larry Ellison in ways we have not covered here, comment and let us know!

 

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Walt Disney: A Journey Into The World Where Dreams Come True

Smruthi Kishore

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Have you ever had dreams, but not the courage to turn the dreams into magical reality? Have you ever had a desire so strong, but not the drive to turn this into something beautiful? Had Walt Disney been like you or me, we would most definitely not have the glorious world of Disney today.

Walt Disney’s early life 

Walt Disney’s early childhood was nowhere close to being as rosy and colourful as the movies he made later on in life. Born in Chicago to Elias Charles Disney and Flora Call Disney, Walt’s childhood was interrupted when the family had to move to Missouri first and then Kansas. With barely any money to spare, the Disney brothers had to work several odd jobs to make ends meet, a task which left them with little to no time for school.

The big change to Walt’s life came in the form of the Great War. A patriot by birth, Walt immediately joined the army, but was rejected because he was only a mere boy of 16. However, he finally became a part of the army by driving an ambulance bus! Through his time in the war, he realised his true passion lay in the magical world of theater, acting and drawing!

Walt Disney and the beginning of his career 

The war had a great impact on Walt’s life. So great that the first caricatures he drew were of political figures, a feat which was clearly not a good idea! One of Walt’s brothers, Roy, was the first man who introduced him to the world of cartoons, mystery and beauty! In July 1923, Walt sold his camera, his creations and his hard work and moved to Hollywood. Once he reached, he moved in with his uncle Robert Disney and set out to look for a job. Unfortunately, no one believed in Walt’s dreams of becoming a director and as a result, every studio turned him down!

The first seeds for Disney were sown when Walt, Roy and Ub Iwerks (an artist) came together to form the first version of Disney. Called the Disney Brothers’ Studio, this company became home to the many creations for which Walt became famous. It was only after multiple rejections that Walt decided to turn to animation. The first success for Walt came in the form of a series called Alice Comedies, or what is now popularly known as Alice In Wonderland. The massive success of the Alice series resulted in the creation of a new project called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and from then onward, there was absolutely no looking back for Walt!

The creation of Mickey Mouse 

Despite the massive success of Oswald, Walt was not happy. He needed a character that was sympathetic, personal and full of potential. An idea was slowly brewing in this creative man’s head and slowly, after months of contemplation, the character of Mickey Mouse came to be! This particular character had a live voice, a back story and a dream with which everyone could relate. With such a specific idea for Mickey Mouse, Walt could not find a specific voice to fit this character. Despite several auditions, no one made the right impact and after several failed attempts, the creator decided to voice the character himself! Did you know that when Walt first came up with the idea of Mickey Mouse, he wanted to name him Mortimer Mouse? How weird was that?

In the year 1932, Walt discovered a new invention in the form of technicolour while working on a project called Flowers and Trees (a part of the Silly Symphony series.) With the brilliant idea of reshooting the project with this technology, Walt created the first ever successful animated series for Disney! Nothing could stop Walt after this success and post that, his touch was like the mythical Midas touch!

At the age of 62, Walt had amassed over 31 Academy Awards and was famous for creating not only amazing cartoons, but also for making brilliant feature films. When he passed away on the 15th of December, 1966, the world fell silent. Having lost a wondrous and extremely talented man, Walt’s death was a loss not many could bear with. One of the reasons his legacy still lives on is because it was a story of success, hard work, patience and perseverance. What is your favourite Disney story? Comment and let us know!

 

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Vijay Mallya’s And Kingfisher’s Rise And Fall From Success

Smruthi Kishore

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Vijay Mallya, the self titled King of Good Times, saw nothing but wealth and opulence the moment he took over from Papa Mallya. When Junior Mallya inherited the Kingfisher empire at 28 years old, little did he know that the company was going to be valued at a whopping Rs. 350 crores (a heck of a lot of money at the time.) He had the throne, he had the money and he had the looks. All he needed now was to create a name for himself and voila! The business was set to take off like never before!

The creation of Kingfisher Airlines 

Kingfisher’s history dates all the way back to Papa Mallya’s life. Mirroring the principles of the Grinch, Papa Mallya counted his money down to every last paisa. When he passed away at the not so ripe age of 56, Mallya’s family business was an umbrella to a hoard of businesses that included industries like liquor, beer, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, paints and agriculture. When Junior Mallya took over the reigns, he took over very little from Papa Mallya (except for the money of course.)

Back then, Rs. 350 crores was almost equivalent to  three times its current value, leaving the young Mallya with money and no real spending direction. The man behind Kingfisher very soon realised the money lay with the distilleries and brewery business. His first step as CEO was as flamboyant as him: to change the colours of the Kingfisher logo from black and white to extravagant colours. Slowly moving towards the skies, Mallya started the Kingfisher Airlines and even acquired his very own cricket team (which Indian man worth his salt has never harboured that particular dream?)

The dream turns sour 

However, despite all his acquisitions, Junior Mallya slowly saw his dream turn into a horrible nightmare. Kingfisher Airlines was not doing as well as he wanted it to and people were starting to notice. For several years after its launch, Kingfisher Airlines continued to function normally, despite never breaking even or even earning profits. Despite the airlines never doing well, KFA received investment on a daily basis. Mallya’s endearing charm got him the much needed investors. Moving from one banker to another, Mallya ensured the valuation of KFA grew to a whopping Rs. 4,100 crores. While the bankers kept lending KFA money they did not really have means of paying back, Mallya’s debt kept rising with each day.

Trouble started brewing when the bankers finally opened their eyes to the problem KFA was slowly turning into. Months after its over the top launch, customers started complaining about the poor quality of the service. From the on ground staff to the crew on board, no one seemed to really care about the airlines they were working for. Management intervention was minimal, flight timings overlapped the competitors schedules, the frills overran the need, cost control was not enforced and maintenance repairs were excruciatingly high. All in all, Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) pushed itself toward a very obvious downfall.

When our very ignorant money lenders finally opened their eyes, KFA’s total debt was valued at a solid Rs. 9,041 crores! Looking back, people soon realised one of the major reasons for KFA’s downfall was glamour, the airline’s primary USP. Now living in debt, sin and poverty (according to the rich man anyway,) Mallya breeds the tale of every heir who squandered his father’s hard gotten wealth. Despite its quick fall to failure, KFA’s story was quite a cautionary tale, letting people know there was much more to success than just having access to money!

 

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