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Sam Walton: 10 Rules to Building a Successful Company

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  • Post last modified:August 8, 2022

I know what you might be thinking, another top ‘x’ list, blah blah blah… But this is different. There are top 10 lists by people who have built billion dollar companies, and have also sold products for people, making those people millionaires; and there are top 10 lists… Get the picture?

These 10 rules highlighted by Sam Walton are rules he summed up at the latter part of his life when reflecting on what worked for him when building Walmart. Below are the Rules:

Rule 1: Commit to your business 

Be very passionate about your business, as this will get you through hard times. When you have a passion, people around you can actually catch your passion as well.

Rule 2: Share profit with associates 

Behave as a servant leader in the partnership. Share glory and defeat together. If you treat your associates as partners they will do the same. Let them have a stake in the business through things like this discounted stocks and stock options for retirement.

Rule 3: Motivate your partners

Money and ownership aren’t always enough. Set tables, set tables, set high goals, encourage competition, keep score. Do not become so predictable. Switch managers are in different stores if you have too.

Rule 4: Communicate information to your partners

The more your partners know the more they will understand; the More they understand, the more they will care. For your partners to care is your ultimate goal and when they care, nothing will stop them from giving their best. More knowledge about the company will empower your partners. It even outweighs the risks of them informing your competitors.

Rule 5: Appreciate the contributions made by your partners into the business

Not just in stock options or paychecks, but with words of praise

Rule 6: Celebrate your successes

Celebrate your success and find humor in your failures. Amongst other things, the latter part might confuse your competitors and cause them not to take you seriously. On the other hand, celebrations create a good environment for everyone in the company.

Rules 7: Listen to everyone in your company

Especially those who interact directly with customers. Always get them talking

Rules 8: Exceed your customer’s expectations

Give them what they want and the little more. Always apologise for your mistakes do not excuse them. Stand behind everything you do.

Rules 9: Control your expenses better than your competitors

“You can be brilliant and still go out of business” if you are too inefficient. however, you can make lots of mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Also, have a low ratio of expense to sales.

Rules 10: Swim upstream

Don’t do what everyone else is doing, the way they are doing it. Ignore conventional wisdom and be prepared for many naysayers. 

I know what you are thinking… ok, maybe you are not thinking it, but the above rules seem pretty basic to me. Sam acknowledged their simplicity too, but claimed that execution is what’s important/the real challenge, not just knowing the rules. 

By ending with Rule 10: swim upstream! it’s obvious that the above 10 rules are not hard and fast rules, and as Sam put it, it can be interpreted as ‘Break all the Rules’.

Very few will break all the rules listed above, however, the history books are waiting to be written about those who do and still achieve  greater success. #Build2Last

“To succeed you have to stay out in front of change” Sam Walton




Eyinimofe Adeniran

Eyinimofe Adeniran

Eyinimofe is a Lawyer turned Tech Entrepreneur. She is the Sweetheart-in-Chief of (An online marketplace to buy cakes, treats & Gifts from the best Vendors in Nigeria) & Ripe Almond Records (An Artist Management & Music production/distribution Company). She believes that Africans should tell their own stories. Her Life Mantra(s): "Whether you do it brave or scared, just do it" "Find a Way"

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