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Lesson #3: Go Big or Go Home
Kroc didn’t invent the hamburger; he simply had a dream about what he could do with that burger and where he could take it with the right business model. From the very first day he met the McDonald brothers and witnessed their small operation and successful use of the Multi-mixer, Kroc could sense the possibilities. “When I saw it working that day in 1954, I felt like some latter-day Newton who’d just had an Idaho potato caromed off his skull,” Kroc said. “That night in my motel room I did a lot of heavy thinking about what I’d seen during the day. Visions of McDonald’s restaurants dotting crossroads all over the country paraded through my brain.”
At that time, the most popular restaurants were those where customers came to dine in for a nice meal. But, with its paper plates, speedy service and on-the-go mentality, McDonald’s was breaking new ground. Kroc wasn’t afraid. Instead, he invested heavily in the company. Even during recession and weak economic times, Kroc remained firm in his commitment to the business and refused to let fear stand in his way.
At one particularly hard point in time, when McDonald’s was suffering financially due to wider problems in the economy, the company’s executives decided to slow down construction in its expansion process, Kroc threw a tantrum, insisting that it made no sense to wait for the economy to improve because the cost of building would then also increase. Rather, Kroc said that the perfect time to build was when times were bad. He ignored the risk and was courageous enough to take advantage of both the good times and the bad.
“I don't believe in saturation,” said Kroc. “We're thinking and talking worldwide.” Nothing about Kroc’s business strategy was small. From his talk to his deals to his expansion plan, Kroc liked to bet big. And, it was in betting big that his payoffs were even bigger.
From his early days as a Multi-mixer salesman, Kroc said he developed an eye for what would work and what wouldn’t, and to take risks accordingly. “I considered myself a connoisseur of kitchens,” he said. “I prided myself on being able to tell which operations would appeal to the public and which would fail.”
Growing his business was a continual process for Kroc, one which involved much risk and reward. But, it was only in striving to always be better and take advantage of new opportunities that Kroc became the legendary success that he did. “When you’re green, you’re growing,” said Kroc. “When you’re ripe, you rot.” To fellow entrepreneurs, Kroc posed this question: “Are you green and growing or ripe and rotting?”
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