I was fortunate to see and hear Bill Simon, President and CEO of retail behemoth Walmart, deliver a keynote speech at the NRF Big Show 2013 in New York earlier this week.
While the majority of representatives in the 27,000 attending this conference were big business connected, small business numbers were significant. For Simon, almost every other retailer is small given the size of Walmart.
I found Simon’s presentation compelling. It made me question the time and energy we in small business spend worrying about, talking about and complaining about big business. Walmart is serving its shareholders. To do that it needs to make more money. The key ways it can do that is to get bigger, to buy better and to be more loved by shoppers. If we in small business want to grow we have to do the same things.
Simon announced some initiatives, initiatives we could announce. The size of is company got his announcements noticed. We in small business and in channels like newsagencies need to do a better job at getting noticed for good initiatives. This is our biggest challenge – getting known and trusted for the value we bring to our communities. What Simon announced was not all that great but it got excellent press the next day because it was an announcement from Walmart. We need to be perceived y journalists, editors and publishers to be as important.
Here are some unedited notes I took (with the wonderful Evernote on my iPad FYI) during the presentation:
There is a national paralysis waiting for someone to do something. i.e. private sector waiting for the government to report on how many jobs the private sector has created.
Can we create a bigger pie, a bigger pie from which we can attract sales. This starts with us reaching outside what we are in business.
Three initiatives from Walmart.
- Support good retail jobs. Stand up for the jobs. Bring structure to the role of the jobs. To create a reason, a strength and happiness. This is where Tower can play a role and fit through our training program.
- Supporting US veterans. Identifying that veterans can be a terrific group to tap into to drive country and business prosperity. Calls on retailers to hire veterans. Walmart offering a job to any honourably discharged veteran within a year of their discharge.
- Supporting American manufacturing. Items made, sourced and grown in the US account for around two thirds of their products. Labour costs in Asia are rising, transport costs high. Tipping points indicate that bringing more jobs home can work. Walmart to buy $50B more US products over next ten years.
Got all veterans in the room to stand. Loud applause.
The tyranny of average. Average is not good enough. Average is below average. We have to act with passion, excitement and convistion. We have to do good. This is what differentiates us. This is what differentiates success.
It’s not about big or small. It’s about having a vision for your business and pursuing this to success.
Committed to working hard every day to get better and be more successful. This is a big business versus small business lesson – big business is not standing still.
This was a compelling presentation with plenty of takeaways even for this small business person. The breakout was Simon’s passion for business and retail.