Hall was 16 years old when he came up with the idea of starting the Norfolk Post Card Company. He was ambitious to say the least. At the time, the market for imported postcards was limited, which would have made his business venture difficult for even the most seasoned of entrepreneurs. Still Hall, a high school dropout with no business experience under his belt, believed whole-heartedly in his idea.
Hall’s inexperience showed as the business suffered in its first few years, hanging on by little else than Hall’s own determination. Eventually, thanks primarily to the leg work of Hall himself, the business began to prosper. Still, the lesson he had learned early on – that of staying the course even through tough times – would serve him well down the road.
In 1915, five years to the day after Hall first disobeyed his parents by dropping out of high school, packed two shoeboxes full of postcards and boarded a train for Kansas City, Hall’s business was struck by a mighty blow. Every greeting card he had purchased over the years was destroyed within a matter of minutes when a fire swept through his store. Hall’s entire inventory had been lost.
Hall was only 23 years old at this point, and faced with one of the most difficult decisions of his life – what should he do now? Should he pack up and go home, admitting that the business he had started on a whim was destined for failure? Or should he pick up the pieces and try to recreate what he had started?
In fact, the decision was an easy one for Hall, who immediately began looking for loans to get him back on his feet again. He barely missed a beat in getting back to work, believing that not only could he recreate what he had before, but that his success would be greater than anything he had achieved to date.
In just one year, Hall had rebuilt his company, even finding a loan to purchase his own engraving press, and opened up an office just down the street from his previous one. Just as Hall had believed, business picked up.
Hall never gave up, determined to make a success of himself. At times, he had little more to go on than his own high hopes, but that was more than enough. Hall was even able to turn the fire that devastated his first business into the inspiration for a future product. One of his later greeting cards would read, “When you get to the end of your rope tie a knot in it and hang on.”
Why was Hall able to hold on to that rope even through all of the obstacles he faced? It was because of his motivations for starting the business with his brothers in the first place. “We didn't start our business to see how much money we could make,” said Hall, “but to see how good a job we could do.”