Shake it off Sam

Sam began his entrepreneurial journey as a franchisee. That worked because Sam was a sponge. He followed the franchise playbook and read about business at the library. When a competitor in town used good copywriting Sam copied that. His philosophy was: whatever works.

But not everything was great. That playbook forced Sam to buy 80% of his merchandise from approved vendors. “At the beginning, I went along and ran my store by their book, because I really didn’t know any better,” he reflected, “but it didn’t take me long to start experimenting - that’s just the way I am and always have been.”

Sam’s ideas worked. But the franchise reined him in. Sam tried again. The franchise slowed him down again, despite the store’s growth.

His landlord noticed the success. Wanting the store for his own son, he forced Sam to sell him the enterprise by raising rents. With few options, Sam sold out, packed up, and moved on.

The silver lining was Sam’s freedom. He had years of best practices and hard-earned street smarts, all he needed was a store.

Sam opened a new store and innovated. Then another and experimented. Then a third and expanded. An early employee said of Sam, “he is less afraid of being wrong than anyone I’ve ever known. And once he sees he’s wrong, he just shakes it off and heads in another direction.”

He wanted to open stores to serve customers. He wanted to find new ways to sell new things and employ new people. This is what seeded all 5,000+ Walmart stores. It was hard work, testing ideas, soaking things up and shaking it off.

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