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The Top Five Things You Can Learn From Wal-Mart

In addition to liking Wal-Mart, I know a lot about the company. My first job out of college was at a Wal-Mart portrait studio, I shop there every week, and I've read a lot about the company including the fact-filled book The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works--and How It's Transforming the American Economy.

Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the United States, the average American family spends more than $2000 a year there, each week nearly one-third of the U.S. population visits one of the company's U.S. stores, and the company so dominates its market niche that it's as big as "Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Costco, Sears, and Kmart combined." There are a lot of lessons you can learn from a company like that.

1) Wal-Mart knows EXACTLY what it’s trying to do. Wal-Mart is all about low prices. Low prices dominate everything from the company strategy to advertising. Its corporate offices are furnished with free samples Wal-Mart gets from suppliers. The net profit margin? It's only just over three percent.

What are you all about? What's your focus? What's your area of expertise? If you want to become great at anything, you've got to know what it is, make it a top priority, and then act like it matters. If you don't know what you're trying to do or you don't make it a high priority, it's going to be tough for you to succeed. On the other hand, if you make anything in your life as central to it as "low prices" are to Wal-Mart, you're practically guaranteed to make it work.