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Business Ideas: 3 Business Lessons From Visa Founder Dee Hock
Today we’re going to look at how a former brick mason refused to settle for less than he felt he deserved and went on to build one of the most successful financial companies in the world. This is the story of VISA founder Dee Hock and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Money motivates neither the best people, nor the best in people.” – Dee Hock
Dee Hock (born 1929) is the founder and former CEO of VISA. In 1968, when credit cards were first starting to get popular, Hock convinced the Bank of America to release control over their BankAmericard credit card program. He started a new company to control the credit cards. It was called National BankAmerica and later changed to VISA.
Hock came from a modest household. His father was a utility lineman and after marrying his high school sweetheart, Hock’s first jobs were working in a slaughterhouse and for a brick mason. He became interested in the banking world and walked away from three separate jobs at respected financial companies because he thought they were too hierarchical and controlling which limited his creativity.
Hock went looking for an opportunity to build a different type of organization, one that valued the creativity and enthusiasm of its employees. The result of this plan was VISA. Today VISA has over $8 billion in revenues and processes over 60 billion transactions per year.
Action Item #1: Hire People Different From You
Action Item #2: Be A Leader
Action Item #3: Empty Your Mind
“Failure is not to be feared. It is from failure that most growth comes; provided that one can recognize it, admit it, learn from it, rise about it, and try again.”
“If you don’t understand that you work for your mislabelled ‘subordinates,’ then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny.”
“Given the right circumstances, from no more than dreams, determination, and the liberty to try, quite ordinary people consistently do extraordinary things.”
Business Ideas: 3 Ways to Prevent Employees
From Losing Interest In You (Issy Sharp Lessons)
by Evan Carmichael
Today we’re going to look at how a high school jock whose priority was partying turned his life around and built one of the most successful hotel chains in the world. This is the story of Issy Sharp from the Four Seasons and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Whatever you do, don’t ever use a crutch, and don’t ever think of having an excuse for not having said, ‘Yeah, I did my best.’ – Issy Sharp
Action Item #1: Inspire Your Employees
If you ever want to build a successful business beyond yourself you’re going to have to have a team of people working with you who are inspired to give their best every day.
Sharp didn’t become the leading luxury hotelier in the world all by himself. In the over fifty years he has been in the industry, Sharp has developed a unique leadership style that has encouraged his employees to devote 110 percent of themselves to the company. By creating a working environment that is built on trust, credibility, and integrity, Sharp has inspired his team to work to realize their best efforts. In the end, he understood that this was the secret ingredient to helping the company realize its best results.
According to Sharp: “We do that, first of all, by establishing a meaningful goal, an overriding purpose that most people can relate to. If the goal is clear and the focus is sharp and constantly reinforced, we unify and energize through a sense of common purpose that inspires employees to ardent effort.”
Action Item #2: Really Service Your Customers
The best companies are based on happy customers and repeat business. You want to strive to create an experience where your customers love buying from you and tell their friends as well.
In each and every one of its worldwide locations, the Four Seasons tends to set the top hotel price for the area – it is usually about 20 percent higher than its closest competitor. How can Sharp risk such a pricing policy? He does it by guaranteeing that his “guests get a fail-safe experience so that a company is eager to pay the extra $50 to ensure a hassle-free trip for an executive who might be working on a $50 million deal.”
According to Sharp: “Our competitors interpreted luxury chiefly as dazzling architecture and décor, but how important is that to our customers? They are mostly executives, often under pressure, fighting jet lag, stress and the clock. We decided to redefine luxury as service.”
Action Item #3: Live By The Golden Rule
The Golden Rule is to treat people as you would like to be treated. It’s not only a great way to achieve happiness as an entrepreneur, it’s also a highly profitable strategy.
The driving force behind Sharp’s success has been his desire to treat Four Seasons employees with the same level of respect that they in turn are expected to give their guests. The success of this policy has shown itself not only in terms of customer happiness but also employee engagement and satisfaction. For years, the Four Seasons has been the only Canadian company to land on Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 best companies to work for in the U.S.
According to Sharp: “We aimed to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves. Enforcing our credo was the hardest part, and senior managers who couldn’t or wouldn’t live by it were weeded out within a few years… We hire for attitude. We want people who like other people and are, therefore, more motivated to serve them. Competence we can teach. Attitude is ingrained.“
Business Ideas – 3 Lessons from Herb Kelleher – Southwest Airlines By Evan Carmichael
Today we’re going to look at how a young lawyer who seemingly had it all bravely left his job to start his own business. He had to fight over 30 lawsuits and nearly went out of business but he stuck with it and created one of the most respected companies in America. This is the story of Southwest Airlines co-founder Herb Kelleher and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Your people come first, and if you treat them right, they’ll treat the customers right.” – Herb Kelleher
Herb Kelleher (born March 12, 1931) is the co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines. After graduating from law school he did what every new lawyer dreamed of. He clerked for the Supreme Court Justice, joined a law firm, and became partner at a firm in his wife’s home state of Texas. He should have been on top of the world but he was instead itching for a new career as an entrepreneur. One evening Kelleher was having drinks with a client, Rollin King, and that night the two used a cocktail napkin to hatch a new business, Southwest Airlines.
Using Kelleher’s legal experience and King’s business background, Southwest Airlines was set up to run only in Texas to avoid having to follow federal price regulations. Kelleher had found a legal loophole and his competition didn’t appreciate it. Kelleher had to fight off over 30 lawsuits before Southwest Airlines was even able to get a plane in the air. But they prevailed and bootstrapped their way from a company with only 4 planes to being one of the most admired companies in America.
Southwest is consistently named one of the top five Most Admired Corporations in America by Fortune magazine, which also called Kelleher perhaps the best CEO in America. It has never experienced an in-flight fatality and continues to enjoy growing success. Southwest is also the only airline to have over 30 consecutive years of profit, despite the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which threatened the rest of the industry. In 2001, Kelleher resigned as CEO and president of Southwest due to a personal battle with prostate cancer.
Action Item #1: Put Your People First
Action Item #2: Focus Everyone on Customer Service
Action Item #3: Hire the Right People
In the beginning, Southwest had just four planes and 70 employees. All of the legal battles had left the company on the verge of closing down. It forced Kelleher to make a difficult decision: he had to either sell one of the planes or lay off some of his employees. He chose to sell the plane. In return, Kelleher asked his employees to cut gate turnaround times from 55 to just 15 minutes. They pulled it off and Kelleher had clearly set the culture for his business.
“I learned it by doing it, and I was scared to death.”
“Sometimes you need a little courage too just to buck popular opinion.”
“The important thing is to take the bricklayer and make him understand that he’s building a home, not just laying bricks.”
Business Ideas – Business Lessons from Jenny Craig (food & service entrepreneur) by Evan Carmichael
Today we’re going to look at how a gym manager mortgaged her house to start a business because she saw a need, moved to Australia, and later sold her business for $600 million. This is the story of Jenny Craig and the top three lessons you can learn from her success.
Action Item #1: Promote, Promote, Promote!
Building a better mousetrap is not enough anymore to get a company off the ground. You need to aggressively promote your business to make sure your customers know that you exist. From advertising and public relations to search engine optimization and social media marketing, you have many opportunities to spread the word about your company and you should never take your foot off the gas!
In the company’s early years, Craig made sure that exactly ten percent of sales was directed back into commercial advertising each and every year. Individual franchises were also expected to spend ten percent of sales, or at least $1,000 a week, on local advertising for their own centres.
They used traditional advertising on television programs, leveraged celebrity endorsements, and created direct mail campaigns. But they also tried many offbeat approaches. As one example, Sid got the company a lot of publicity during one televised international cricket match, where cameras picked up on a sign in the crowd directed at the captain of the English team that read: “See Jenny Craig. Quick.”
Action Item #2: Offer Products and Services
I believe the best way to build a business is to start a service – it’s low cost and gets you close to your customers. Your chances of survival are much higher and you learn what future services and products your clients need. Once you’ve established a base of customers and know exactly what’s missing in the marketplace, you can create your products. You’ve got cashflow from your service business to keep the company running and you’ve got a loyal group of clients who are ready to buy!
Jenny Craig had the same philosophy. Her business started with Jenny Craig centres where they would help clients establish a workout program, offer nutritional guidance, and also give motivational services. Her business grew every year as she added more centres and people to her team. It was a very successful service based business.
Jenny Craig’s big break came when she started offering prepared food products as a part of her offering. She brought on board a highly qualified staff of dieticians, psychologists, and physicians to help her create a menu that was healthy and nutritional. In doing so, Jenny’s Cuisine became a central component to her program. All of her clients were required to purchase these portion and calorie controlled foods, which included over sixty different breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snack options. Jenny’s Cuisine proved so popular that the company’s gross revenues from food sales increased to 91 percent by 1993.
Action Item #3: Never Give Up!
Just like I discussed in my last post, it’s important as an entrepreneur to never give up on your idea. Every business owner will face a moment of crisis which forces you to think whether it’s all worth it – the long hours, the mounting debt, the personal sacrifices. These moments will help define you as an entrepreneur. It’s the founders who stare those moments square in the face and keep on building who go on to be the ultra-successful entrepreneurs.
From losing weight, to starting her own business, to not being able to run her business in America, Craig has proven that with perseverance anything is possible. When the Craigs first sold their chain of Body Contour gyms, they did so in agreement to a non-compete clause. They were not allowed to set up shop again anywhere in the U.S. for two years.
And so, refusing to wait two years before they made their next move, the couple went on a search for their next destination. Where could they begin their new line of fitness centres? What country was similar to the U.S. in terms of diet and fitness levels but presented no language barrier? The Craigs decided on Australia. Their friends thought they were “nuts” but the couple never gave up and turned their new business into a company that sold for $600 million.
Business Ideas – How to Put Differentiation Into Action Like Ron Joyce (Tim Hortons) by Evan Carmichael
Evan Carmichael discusses how you can match your talents with your passion like the franchise king Ron Joyce (Tim Hortons).
“When you find the niche you love, that becomes your passion. For me it was Tim Hortons. It was my world.” — Ron Joyce
Action Item #1: Match Your Talents with Your Passion
You can be really good at something but not love it. You can also love doing something else but not be really good at it. To be successful as an entrepreneur you need find the opportunity to combine what you love doing with what you’re really good at.
According to Ron Joyce: ” I think people who excel in anything are often totally dedicated to it, but are only really good at one thing. I look at the great athletes of all time, like Michael Jordan, who went from basketball to baseball and it didn’t work. Or Wayne Gretzky, who probably wouldn’t have been great at anything but hockey.”
Are you like Michael Jordan trying to play baseball by doing something you love but aren’t really that good at? If you’re struggling to get your company to the next level try doing some soul searching to see if you’ve matched up your talents with what you love doing in the best way possible.
Action Item #2: Treat Your Franchisees as Partners
Franchising can be a great way to build a business because you don’t need to fund it yourself and you can create an army of hard working managers who have a self-interest in seeing you succeed. However, franchising is not a bulletproof concept and may fail when the franchisors don’t provide the right support to their franchisees.
Here’s Ron Joyce’s advice: “It was my philosophy to treat the franchise owners as partners.” He followed through by creating a ‘Donut University’, a central training facility where new franchise owners could go to learn the ropes of running the business and operating in the fast-paced environment. He also established regular meetings, a toll-free phone line, and field evaluations to provide support to his franchisees. He was willing to do whatever it took to get his partners off the ground and running.
The result? Today, only five percent of the company’s stores are corporate, while the rest are locally and operated owned franchises. With average profit margins ranging from 15 to 20 percent, owning a Tim Hortons franchise is a promising venture. In fact, more than half of all franchisees own more than one unit. Treat your franchisees fairly and give them the support they need to flourish and they’ll build your business for you.
Action Item #3: Create a Unique Point of Differentiation
If you want to stand out and win business from your competitors then you need to do things differently from them. If there’s nothing different about you, why should customers choose you when there are probably more established companies they could go with?
When Joyce took over Tim Hortons he wanted to stand out from all the other coffee chains. To do that, Joyce implemented a new set of business practices that focused on keeping things “Always Fresh.” He began to insist that all Tim Hortons coffee pots be cleaned three times a day and that no coffee be older than twenty minutes from the time the brewer stops dripping. All grounds were also to be thrown out immediately afterwards. But it didn’t just stop at coffee. The temperatures of all cheese products and sandwiches were to be checked every other hour, as with soups. Donuts were to have a shelf life of no more than eight hours and could also be made to order. Bagels and other breads were also to be sold for no more than eight hours after they were made, while cookies, danishes, and croissants could go up for twelve hours. Only enough cakes for a given day were to be baked in any one store.
Customers began to come to Tim Hortons because they had the freshest products available and sales soared. What is your unique point of differentiation? Is it really something customers care about and are you very different from your competitors? If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and create a value proposition worth betting the company on.
Business Ideas – How to Build a Business the HP Way by Evan Carmichael
Evan Carmichael discusses how you can build a business like Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, founders of one of the world’s largest information technology companies, Hewlett-Packard.
“Believe you can change the world.” — Bill Hewlett
Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were university friends who graduated in electrical engineering from Stanford in 1935. Eager to become entrepreneurs, Packard and Hewlett established Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 1939 in Packard’s garage with all the startup money they could put together – a grand total of US$538. They then tossed a coin to decide whether the company would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.
60 years after its founding, HP has developed a reputation for innovative and reliable products and in 2009 had revenue of $115 billion, making it one of the largest companies in the world.
Action Item #1: Think About More Than Money
Hewlett and Packard believed that a business had a purpose beyond just making money. Businesses had responsibilities to employees, customers, and the community at large. It was a controversial viewpoint in the 1940s but many of the management practices that are now standard in many work environments were pioneered by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.
Some of the initiatives they launched included: worker bonuses based on productivity, profit sharing plans, flex-time schedules, companywide health-insurance, pay cuts and Fridays off instead of layoffs in hard times, addressing everybody in the company by their first names, having an open-door policy, and creating a wall-free environment to encourage teamwork and the flow of ideas.
As an entrepreneur you have to worry about money and making enough to first survive and then build a lasting company – but don’t make it your only priority. Remember to think about the people who work for you, the people who buy from you, and the rest of your community to make your business a force for good. Strangely enough when you focus on helping these people around you, the money comes in on its own.
Action Item #2: Adopt a Survival Mentality
The early days of a new business can be challenging. You may not be selling the right product or service and you rarely hit the targets that you set for yourself. This is where it’s crucial to adopt a survival mentality – listen to your customers until you find the product or service that will really solve their problems and in turn help you build a lasting business.
When Bill Hewlett talked about the early days of Hewlett-Packard he said: “We were just opportunistic. We made a bowling alley foul-line indicator, a clock drive for a telescope, a thing to make a urinal flush automatically, and a shock machine to make people lose weight. We did anything to bring in a nickel.”
The best way to build a business is around customers with problems who will pay you to solve them. Adopt a survival mentality like Hewlett and Packard and look for opportunities to help your customers. In the midst of solving their problems you’ll find a business idea that you can build into a successful and enduring company.
Action Item #3: Make Innovation a Part of Everything You Do
For a business to succeed today it needs to always be thinking about what’s next and how it can innovate. If you can offer a more innovative solution that your competitors don’t have yet it can be your chance to win new business and grow your company.
In HP’s early years, Hewlett and Packard had made one rule, above all the others, the golden rule: To encourage innovation, no parts bins or storerooms should ever be locked. To outsiders, this was a mind-boggling phenomenon. Visitors to the company’s headquarters would be shocked that millions of dollars worth of parts and equipment were lying around free for anyone to use, and nobody ever suspected anyone else of theft.
Are you innovating enough with your business? Do you take time every week to think about ways to make your product or service better? Follow Hewlett and Packard’s lead and stay on the cutting edge of technology and your customers and pocketbook will thank you for it!
Do you have a management philosophy that guides your business? What are the core beliefs that define your company beyond simply making money? As always, I’ve love to hear your thoughts if you leave a comment below!
Business Ideas: 3 Business Ideas from Estee Lauder’s Success by Evan Carmichael
Today we’re going to look at how a girl grew up with no money and lived in a small apartment with her parents and her eight siblings. She would go on to become the only woman on Time magazine’s list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the century. This is the story of the woman super entrepreneur Estee Lauder and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from her success.
“If you don’t sell, it’s not the product that’s wrong, it’s you… I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.” – Estee Lauder
Action Item #1: Don’t Stop at the First No
Lauder was known for her unwavering persistence. When she was trying to expand her European market she arranged a meeting with the manager of Galleries Lafayette, Europe’s largest department store. When the manager said no she ‘accidentally’ spilled her perfume samples on the floor and the store customers started asking how they could buy some of the fragrance. The manager had to give her a contract.
According to Lauder: “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it and I sell it hard… If you have a goal, if you want to be successful, if you really want to do it and become another Estee Lauder, you’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to stick to it and you’ve got to believe in what you’re doing.”
Action Item #2: Love What You Do
Lauder loved her products so much that she paid attention to every little detail. When she got her first deal with Saks Fifth Avenue she stood at the entrance door for an entire week and watched women come in. Nine times out of ten, the first place their eyes would wander would be to the right. Not to the left. Not straight ahead. So she asked for her product to be placed on the right.
According to Lauder: “I love my product. I love to touch the creams, smell them, look at them, carry them with me. A person has to love her harvest if she’s to expect others to love it.”
Action Item #3: Sell, Sell, Sell
When Lauder was first getting started she didn’t have money to spend on advertising and promotions so she invested her time into product demos. She began at salons, hotels, subway stations, and even people on the street, offering them a free makeover and the chance to buy her products. She eventually moved to sell to the big department stores but it all began with a $0 budget and her grinding out sale after sale.
According to Lauder: “If you put the product into the customer’s hands, it will speak for itself if it’s something of quality… If you don’t sell, it’s not the product that’s wrong, it’s you.”
Business Ideas – How to Be Enthusiastic Like Mary Kay Ash by Evan carmichael
Evan Carmichael discusses how you break through with your business like one of the most successful women entrepreneurs of all time, Mary Kay Ash.
“Most successful people are ordinary people with extraordinary determination.” — Mary Kay Ash
Mary Kay Ash (May 12, 1918 — November 22, 2001) was an American businesswoman and founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc. Raised in a time when few women were in business, let alone successful in business, Ash broke down barriers on her rise up to creating a multi-billion dollar operation.
Ash used her $5,000 life savings to open a cosmetics company, Beauty by Mary Kay. Ash had bought the formula for a skin-care cream she was using as well as a storefront in Dallas, and began hiring friends as independent beauty consultants, her term for salespeople.
In its first year, company sales reached $198,000, primarily from sales sessions, or ‘skin care classes’, her sales team would hold in private homes. At the time of Ash’s death, Mary Kay Cosmetics had over 800,000 representatives in 37 countries, with total annual sales over $2 billion at retail.
Action Item #1: Break Down Barriers in Your Way
Starting a business is tough. It can be hard to get customers to believe in a new company and people will doubt your ability to succeed. At times you might even wonder if you made the right decision or if you’re better off going back and getting a job.
Mary Kay Ash was tired of being held back and being told that she was “just thinking like a woman.” Starting her own business was her chance to reach her full potential. According to Ash, “You cannot keep determined people from success. If you place stumbling blocks in their way, they will use them for stepping-stones and climb to new heights.”
No matter what challenges you come up against, remind yourself of why you started your business and what your vision is. Break big barriers down into small chunks and tackle them one by one until the problem is solved. Whatever you do, don’t give up!
Action Item #2: Live by the Golden Rule
Whether you are dealing with customers, suppliers, the media, employees, partners, or someone else who can have a meaningful impact on your business, remember that you’re dealing with a person and people like to be recognized and appreciated.
Mary Kay Ash’s advice is simple: “I have learned to imagine an invisible sign around each person’s neck that says ‘Make me feel important.’ I never cease to be amazed at how positively people react when they’re made to feel important. Everyone wants to be appreciated. So, if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.”
As a business owner there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done which can often cause us to get stressed out and treat people poorly. Try to remember Mary Kay Ash’s rule and make the people around you feel important and appreciated. You’ll see far better business results and you’ll have a lot more fun as well!
Action Item #3: Be Enthusiastic
Your business idea doesn’t have to be the most creative or original. What can make the difference between success and failure is your enthusiasm for what you’re selling. When you’re enthusiastic you’ll be more convincing and you’ll have an easier time convincing people to take action.
According to Mary Kay, “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm. If you act enthusiastic, you become enthusiastic. A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.”
Running a business can be a grind and sometimes we can lose our own enthusiasm for the company. When this happens remind yourself again why you started the business and try to get excited about the next meeting you’re going to have. If others sense how excited you are they are more likely to be convinced and want to get involved. This in turn will give you more energy and enthusiasm so don’t waste the opportunity!
Business Ideas – 3 Business Lessons From Steve Wozniak by Evan Carmichael
Today we’re going to look at how an entrepreneur whose father didn’t believe he would ever reach his goals set out to follow his passion for computers and built one of the largest companies in the world, quickly proving his father wrong. This is the story of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Don’t think about the money you don’t have. Rather, what can you do with what you do have?”- Steve Wozniak
Stephen “Woz” Wozniak (born August 11, 1950) is a Polish American computer engineer and programmer who co-founded Apple Inc. While in school, Wozniak tapped into his intense passion for computers and started designing computers on paper based on the theories that he knew. He told his father that he would one day own his own computer. When his father said “Well Steve, they cost as much as a house,” Wozniak replied, “Well, I’ll live in an apartment.”
Wozniak didn’t have friends growing up. He spent his time between his schoolwork and his experiments. Things changed, however, when he met Steve Jobs. With Jobs’ ability to convince people to give them parts, Wozniak went to work on building the Apple I. In 1976, Wozniak and Jobs started Apple together with the goal of making computers a tool everyone could use, not just big corporations.
Today, Apple has over $100 Billion in revenues and is one of the largest 50 companies in the world. In 2000, Wozniak was inducted into the National Hall of Fame and has received honorary degrees from multiple universities. His plan was never to start a company but rather to design computers. Luckily for the world, he decided to do both.
Action Item #1: Don’t Think About the Money You Don’t Have
Action Item #2: Focus
Action Item #3: Partner Up
Wozniak sold his HP calculator and Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagon van raising $1,300 to fund the launch of Apple. Jobs told Wozniak that even if they were not successful they could at least tell their grandkids they had their own company.
Business Ideas: 3 Business Lessons From Henry Heinz by Evan Carmichael
Today we’re going to look at how the son of immigrant labourers went against the dream his parents had for him to become a preacher and built one of the most successful companies in the food production business. This is the story of Henry Heinz and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.” – Henry J. Heinz
Action Item #1: Create a Catchy Slogan
Whatever industry you’re in, you probably have many competitors. How can you stand out from everyone else? A great way to cut through the clutter is to create a catchy slogan that highlights what you’re really good at.
Heinz was looking for a slogan while riding on a streetcar in New York one day in 1896. He then saw an advertisement for a shoe store; it read “21 Styles.” According to Heinz: “I said to myself, ‘we do not have styles of products, but we do have varieties of products. Counting up how many we had, I counted well beyond 57, but 57 kept coming back to my mind. Seven, seven — there are so many illustrations of the psychological influence of that figure and of its alluring significance to people of all ages and races that ’58 Varieties’ or ’59 Varieties’ did not appeal at all to me as being equally strong.”
With that, Heinz immediately jumped off the streetcar, went down to the print shop, and drafted up a card with the new 57 Varieties slogan. Reflecting back, Heinz acknowledged: “I myself did not realize how highly successful a slogan it was going to be.”
Action Item #2: Be Unique with Your Promotions
Another great way to cut through the clutter and have potential customers pay attention to you is to be unique with your promotional campaigns.
No tactic was too flashy or gaudy for Heinz. He wanted his products to stand out and shine — literally. In 1900, Heinz decided to erect the first ever electric sign in New York City, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street in Manhattan. Standing six stories tall, the sign was a large electric-lit pickle that bore the Heinz name and its “57 Varieties” slogan. In the display room below the sign, Heinz’s employees could be seen packing miniature pickles into bottles. The sign took 1,200 light bulbs to build and cost the company some $90 every night, but for Heinz, it was all worth it. For years, this electric pickle impressed shoppers along the famous New York strip and served as invaluable advertising.
Heinz was a master promoter, and was even responsible for pioneering one of the major trends in the industry. Obsessed with quality, freshness, and cleanliness, Heinz invented the concept of the “factory tour.” Anyone who was interested in seeing how Heinz produced and packaged his products was now allowed to witness the process first-hand. He was confident in his operations and believed opening it up to the public would help build confidence and trust in his company. The move sparked an outburst of positive publicity, not to mention a wave of copycats.
Action Item #3: Have a Quality Product and Be Proud of It
Most of the famous entrepreneurs achieved success not because they were trying to make a lot of money but because they created a product or service that was good quality and they were proud to make and promote.
Heinz was very proud of all of his products. In addition to allowing the public access to his factories, Heinz also opened up his products to them — literally. He was one of the first to ever package his products in clear, glass bottles. Heinz’s competitors would often use filler ingredients to pump up the volume of their products, and then conceal the fact by using opaque, coloured containers. Heinz wanted his customers to see exactly what they were buying. He was proud of his products’ quality and offered transparent bottles to ensure customers they were getting their money’s worth.
Heinz’s biographer, Robert C. Alberts, claimed that Heinz had hit on one of the most important and shaping business ideas of his time: that a pure article of superior quality could find a ready market through its intrinsic value, so long as it was packaged and promoted properly.