Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Creating Opportunities in the 21st Century - Part 4

(This is part four of a five-part series focusing on finding opportunities and creating ideas in this hectic, high tech modern age. The first four parts of this series focus on spotting opportunities and the last concentrates on effective ways to come up with solid ideas.)

The Fourth Concept for Finding Opportunities

We have reached the final principle needed to spot opportunities in a high technology world that is constantly changing day after day. You've learned that looking at your own interests, spotting changes in a trend, taking advantage of it and solving problems in a particular field can lead to massive opportunity.

Now we come to the fourth concept for finding opportunities in the 21st century - watch what your competition is doing in a niche and do it better.

Always strive for improvement in every area of your life. And the way to do that in your career is to spot what others are doing in your field or industry of choice and find ways to improve upon it.

The perfect example of this is Sam Walton and the rise of Wal-Mart into the global powerhouse its become.

When Walton started his first Wal-Mart in Rogers, Arkansas, he was already a seasoned retail man who knew his competition inside out. It's safe to say he knew their business better than they did. In his desire to be number one, Walton saw what other retailers were doing right and did it better.

He cut costs, treated employees as co-owners and in turn, his associates treated the customer like a million bucks which spurred incredible growth. In the expansion, Walton cut costs even more with the most sophisticated distribution system ever implemented in the retail industry.

That led to even more growth and expansion. Still, Walton wasn't done on remaking the retail industry. Soon, Super Centers popped up and Wal-Mart quickly became the top grocery chain in America. The Super Centers caused the formation of Wal-Mart Distribution Centers and with that the Great Value product line was created.

Then came Sams Club, a wholesale store that is membership only. The exclusivity of it, the special feeling it gave members, caused the Clubs to explode. The improvements haven't stopped. Wal-Mart's now have restaurants, photo labs, banks and arcades inside them. It's a one-stop shop for the average consumer.

Even though Sam is long gone, Wal-Mart still thrives because of the systems he created. They can keep prices low because they dictate the price. Dealers must capitulate or lose serious money.

Walton was a man who saw the massive distribution systems that K-mart had and improved them. He watched how grocery stores operated and incorporated their ideas into his operation. He borrowed and created with quality, improvement and customer service his buzzwords. Constant, steady improvement was his mantra.

Wal-Mart is now the largest company in the world with sales of $158 billion dollars in 2005. They've become the number one employer in the United States and when he died, Walton was the wealthiest man in the world.

All because one man embodied the fourth concept of creating opportunities - watch what the competition is doing and do it better.

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