Tom Grimm spent much of his life in the corporate world, but he had a few tips Thursday for entrepreneurs.
The former president and chief executive officer of the Sam's Club division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and founding principal, president and CEO of the Price Savers Wholesale Warehouse, Grimm told the Salt Lake Chapter of the BYU Management Society that he learned a lot about managing companies by watching both good and bad examples in the corporate world.
"You see both, but you can learn from both sides of the equation," he said. "You can learn equally, as long as you square out those things that you know will make you stronger in the long run and it will allow you to be the individual that you want to become. ..."
The Ogden native and Weber State University graduate called on wannabe entrepreneurs to shy away from doing "the revolutionary, the unique, the unknown" because it will cause them to bypass great opportunities. Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, did not invent discount retailing but did do it better and served a different clientele, he said.
Entrepreneurs also must understand their concept better than anyone else because they will be required to sell it to investors and others. "And trust me, as an entrepreneur, you will be required to sell that concept frequently," he said.
They also must be students of both management and their competition.
"I have learned so much from different management styles. Be careful, because your natural characteristic may lead you in the wrong direction. There are those individuals who want to be dictators. I would suggest to you that that may work for a very short period of time. But you're going to have to find a management style that allows people to do for you what you need to get done, because you're not going to be able to do it all by yourself," Grimm said.
He said Walton was a master of studying his competition and knew to "steal shamelessly" any good ideas he saw.
"Find the best idea you can possibly find, and bring them to your organization and make it better. That's what Sam did and he did it extremely well," Grimm said.
Entrepreneurs also must remember to focus on their employees, he added.
"It's all about people. People will make or break you. Don't let anybody ever tell you differently. But you must believe it. You must treat those people with respect and you must teach them what they are to do. People are your No. 1 asset, by far. I have been at too many corporations where that was said but not lived up to," he said."If you decide to be an entrepreneur, remember the following: It will be frightening, it will be exciting, it will be challenging, it will be disappointing, and, if things go well, it will be rewarding," Grimm said. "But regardless, it is one heck of a ride."