The End Is the Beginning

Shortly before his death in 1992, Sam Walton wrote Made in America: My Story, which described the early days and subsequent growth of the Wal-Mart empire. One of the sections that has always stuck with me can be found about two-thirds into the book, in a chapter fittingly called “Making the Customer Number One.” In it, both Walton and Don Soderquist (Wal-Mart’s COO at the time, and formerly the CEO of the Ben Franklin chain of five-and-dime stores, which went head-to-head with Wal-Mart in its early years) offer their opinions on how local businesses can compete with Wal-Mart. After more than twenty years, Walton’s advice is still extremely useful for any business:

It doesn’t make any sense to try to underprice ...

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