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Succeed Like KFC: 5 Business Hacks From The Colonel

Succeed Like KFC: 5 Business Hacks From The Colonel

As we watch Colonel Sanders return to the airwaves in several KFC commercials, we often forget that unlike Ronald McDonald, Sanders was a real human being.

Harland David Sanders was born in 1890, and did not start selling fried chicken until 1930. But when he finally sold his business at the age of 75, he set a path for one of the largest fast food chains in the entire world.

So what were his business secrets? Here are five important secrets which any businessman can learn from the colonel, both in starting a business and maintaining it afterwards.

It is never too late to start a business

Harland Sanders worked all sorts of jobs before he set up a small restaurant. He labored on a railroad, selling insurance, and operating a ferry boat. He even operated a legal practice for about five years until he attacked his own client in court.

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Did Sanders’s time operating a ferry boat or practising law help him create KFC? Probably not. But while Sanders was repeatedly licked in whatever job he did, he just kept on working until he was able to find his niche. And it is never too late for you do the same thing.

Do one thing – and do it well

In 1929, Sanders opened a gas station in Kentucky. He opened the restaurant as a diversion a year later, but the station became more and more known for his excellent food. A short while later, Sanders decided to just close down the gas station and focus on his restaurant.

And Sanders is not the only example of a fast food founder cutting down to what he specialized in. The McDonald’s brothers originally started their first restaurant specializing in barbecue until they realized that about 80 perfect of their profits came from hamburgers.

There are a lot of businessmen who try to be all things to all consumers, and as a result just end up annoying all consumers.

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The best form of advertising is word of mouth

Sanders did not have Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram as a way to attract customers. What he did have was word of mouth, and a recommendation from Duncan Hines’s Adventure in Good Eating. But that was enough to keep his restaurant thriving, as Sanders added additional seating and kept expanding for the next 20 years.

Advertising is a means to an end. As much as businesses stress out about marketing, they often forget that the product is the most important thing.

Don’t give up

Sanders’s business continued to flourish. In 1950, the governor of Kentucky honored him with the non-military title of “colonel”, the actual origin of his name as opposed to a military background. Sanders began to look into franchising, and in 1952 began selling the rights to “Kentucky Fried Chicken” to local restaurants in exchange for four cents for every chicken sold.

But then in 1955, a new interstate built for the Kentucky Derby bypassed Sanders’s restaurant and drew customers away. Sanders sold the restaurant at a loss in 1956, leaving him with just his savings and his Social Security check. He was 65 years old and had arthritis.

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A lesser man would have just hung his hat and called it a career. Not Sanders. He got into his car and began driving to restaurants across the country, looking to franchise his chicken. Eventually, businesses started coming to him. By the time Sanders sold his business in 1964, there were more than 600 KFC franchises.

If a 65-year old Sanders can keep working even after watching his longtime business fail, then other businesses have no excuse for not adapting to sudden and harsh circumstances. There’s always to pick yourselves up after something goes wrong, if you can sit down and calmly figure out what to do next.

Be careful of what you sign

Not every lesson from Colonel Sanders is a positive one. In 1964, he sold the rights to KFC for $2 million, which is about $15 million today. But while Sanders could have retired and lived out his remaining days in comfort, he instead became a massive thorn in the side of KFC.

Sanders filmed commercials and made appearances as “The Colonel” for KFC. But in the franchise’s first convention after its IPO, he denounced management in front of everyone. In 1973, he sued Heublein Inc., the company which owned KFC at that point. Then in 1975, Heublein sued Sanders back for slandering the new KFC recipes. Sanders would repeatedly criticize the new recipes, calling it “sludge” and “wallpaper paste.”

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But while Sanders ranted and raved, he still signed the contract which gave up his rights. He probably wanted the $2 million more than control of KFC, but his rants towards the end of his life helped no one and harmed both his reputation and KFC’s.

Featured photo credit: Mike Mozart via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019

8 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn in Less Than 6 Months

8 Life-Changing Skills You Can Learn in Less Than 6 Months

Everyone has the ability to learn a life-changing skill not just this year, but in the next 6 months.

By life-changing, I mean something that can have a positive impact in your life moving forward, even if it’s something you can’t envision today. Certain skills we can immediately reap the benefits of, while others will be life-changing when we least expect it.

In this article, we’ll share 8 life-changing skills you can learn in 6 months, where you can learn them, and how you can get started today.

1. Speed reading

Bill Gates has been known to state that if he had one superpower, it would be the ability to read faster. What Bill and the rest of the mega-successful understand is that knowledge is power. The ability to process information faster from books, articles, and reports is what will help us learn faster, and therefore improve each aspect of our life faster as well.

Where you can start learning: Speed reading courses are becoming more popular, as more people realize how important it is with the limited time we have. You can check out free courses like Read Speeder or you can start learning how to use Spritzlet, which allows you to speed read articles online with a browser extension.

2. Public speaking

Research shows that people fear public speaking more than death itself. There’s something terrifying about being in front of dozens or hundreds of people, and exposing yourself completely. It’s when you’re most vulnerable, but learning how to public speak is a life-changer.

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Warren Buffett has given advice to recent graduates that the number one skill you can have to succeed is public speaking skills. Everything from communication, confidence, and sales is developed when you develop your public speaking skills.

Where you can start learning: Luckily, there are great communities out there like Toastmasters that organize local meetups all around the world. You’ll find amazing public speakers that are looking to get to the next level to beginners that are just getting started. Check out Toastmasters’ website here.

3. Spanish

As the third most spoken language in the world, the ability to speak Spanish will allow you to reach over 500M people around the world. No matter where you live, knowing how to speak Spanish is becoming increasingly more important, with the Hispanic population and economy spreading quickly worldwide. If you’re living in the US, this is even more important, with over 30% of the population being Hispanic.

Spanish is also on this list, because it’s one of the easiest languages to learn. Sure, Mandarin is an important language to learn, but it’s an incredibly difficult one to learn. If we were to measure the level of importance and the time to learn for all the languages available, Spanish would make it to the top of the list.

One of the biggest reasons why people never reach fluency in any foreign language is: using the wrong method, and lack of time.

It turns out that humans retain only 5% of what we learn from lectures, 20% of what we learn from apps (visual cues), and 90% of what we learn from immediate immersion. Yet, how do 90% of learn a new foreign language? Language schools (lectures), books, Duolingo (apps), etc that don’t provide the real-life immersion required for our brains to learn faster.

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Where to get started: If you want the most effective way to learn a language, learning from real-life interactions is the best way to do it. There are great websites like Rype, which offers Spanish coaching for busy people, solving the issue of lack of time and bringing real-life immersion to your screen. With Rype, you can book as many lessons as you want, at any time of the day, any day of the week, allowing you to fit it into your schedule, no matter how busy you are.

4. Accounting

If you’re looking to get into business, accounting is one of the core fundamentals you’ll need to succeed. While you don’t need to be an expert, you definitely should understand the basics.

This skill can also be used to manage your personal finances, to meet your financial goals, and having more control over your life.

Where to get started learning: If you didn’t learn accounting in school, no worries. You can either teach yourself using books, or check out free accounting courses online.

5. Microsoft Excel

Most people reading this probably have a basic understanding of Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet. While this is a good start, there are so many powerful functionalities that are hidden, which could make your life a lot easier.

Excel is also a great asset to have whenever you’re looking for a job, as many corporations rely on Excel to organize and manage multiple parts of the business.

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Where to get started learning: With the popularity of Excel, you can find tons of free resources and videos online to learn. Check out Excel Exposure, Lynda, and Excel with Business.

6. Blogging/Vlogging

Blogging is a powerful tool if you want to spread your ideas, build your brand, or grow your business. Since it was introduced, blogging has taken on a life of its own, and today there are ~2M blog posts being written on a daily basis.

Where to get started learning: Anyone can start blogging today. All you need is a content-management system like WordPress, which is completely free. Personally, I think the best way to start learning how to blog is to just start writing. There are techniques you can learn on how to promote your blog, but the best way to grow your blog is to write great content.

7. Weight training

Yes, weight training is a skill. It’s not as advanced as learning how to code, nor will it take as long as learning a new language, if you just want to learn the basics.

We’re not promising that you’ll get a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but you will see much faster results for whatever goal you have, just by understanding how to workout properly. And of course, when you’re dealing with an activity that involves physical strain, you’ll always want to caution yourself.

Where to get started learning: There are amazing body builders that are sharing all of their secrets for free on Youtube. You can check out Bodybuilding.com’s Youtube channel to get started.

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8. Photo and video editing

In the digital world that we live in, from Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook, there is no avoiding photos and videos. In fact, social media has increasingly gone away from text sharing and almost everything to photo and video editing.

Where to get started learning: For photo editing, you can use Photoshop. For video editing, you can use iMovie or Final Cut Pro. Keep in mind, there are dozens of editing software tools for video and photo editing, but what’s more important are your editing skills, not the tool itself.

Check out education websites like CreativeLIVE or Skillshare, where you can learn from experts themselves on how to best use design and software tools.

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