Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s hamburger chain, left school after year ten. He began his education at the age of twelve, working at a launch counter.

He spent time as a cook in the army, worked in several restaurants and as a manager of a KFC store, which led him to open his first Wendy’s store in 1969. His stores
today number 4020. Yet one thing he notes about education is that many people, especially those with degrees, out-think themselves. He maintains that success is not about complicated theories found in university lecture rooms. Success, he believes, is simply knowing what people want and helping them get their money’s worth: simple!

‘I know how to make a hamburger,’ he says. ‘We give customers good food, clean restaurants, polite service at a good price.’ Really! Do you need to go to university to know this? Of course not, but success is about knowing this deeply and intrinsically, and building your whole business based on these principles.

How can you learn the principles? Study the successes. Successful people write autobiographies, and they generally set out their business principles clearly there. It’s not an ideal way to learn. Face-to-face is better, but it is a place to start. As time goes by and you gain more experience, you will manage to meet your role models and learn more.

It isn’t a secret: throughout history students have assimilated what their masters have done, branched out on their own, and improved on past practices. And it’s the only way you can fast-track your education.

Don’t just concentrate on the success of others. Learn from their failures too. Study how they spend their money as well as how they make it. Use other people’s experience; it is invaluable.

Brian Sher
Making money out of thin air

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