The Sole of an Entrepreneur

By Rick Brewer:

I recently watched the movie “The Founder” which is the story of Ray Kroc, the man behind McDonald’s restaurants. In the movie, it details the beginnings of the restaurant chain as a small, but incredibly efficient hamburger stand in San Bernardino, CA. The McDonald Brothers, Dick, and Mac went through with a fine tooth comb the efficiency model, changing the way things were done completely from not serving their food on plates and silverware to not having to wait for each order. They perfected the system with one major challenge; they could not replicate it. In walks Ray Kroc.

Ray Kroc is perhaps the king of boot strappers. He quickly saw the brilliance in what the brothers had created. He also saw the incredible potential for replication. Though the brothers had attempted to replicate, they could not. This brings in three points I’d like to make about the soul of an entrepreneur.

First- they see risk and they do it anyway. Ray Kroc was able to see past fear, past failure and see what could be. When Ray Kroc mortgaged his house, he didn’t tell his wife because she was risk averse. Let’s be candid; there really is no security but only what seems to be secure. Ray Kroc had a comfortable life with a comfortable life style but he saw more and took a great risk to go forward with it.

Second- Innovation was required. Similar stories are told of Steve Jobs and Sam Walton. They changed the way things were being done to a point to where they had to completely break down the current way of doing things and re-construct. The initial innovation of the Speedy Way by the McDonald Brothers was not enough. This innovation needed more innovation on how to get the Speedy Way out to the world. Not shown in the movie was how Ray Kroc became an expert in potatoes. Why? Simple; because this was the #1 money maker for the chain and he needed to be intricately knowledgeable so that the chain would profit more and better.

Third- He was first and foremost a salesman. Ray Kroc knew the value of Hustle and went out every day determined to sell more franchises and selling his then partners the brothers on ways and methods to make more money. Those ideas were not always a go with his partners which came to an eventual head. In the end, many people may feel bad for the brothers, but do you think they would have each become millionaires selling .15 cent burgers through a single location in 1961 (which was only 6 years after Kroc had entered into business with them)? The brothers had been satisfied with the money they were making and not interested in going further which frustrated Kroc’s plans.

In the end, as entrepreneurs we need to look deep into our own hearts to determine if we see something big enough that it will conquer the fear, ignite the innovation and get us out there working day and night to make our vision come true. The McDonald brothers were geniuses in their own right, but that genius would have went unrecognized in the end. It was the heart of Ray Kroc that has given the world McDonalds and the system that is an inspiration to many entrepreneurs.