2 Entrepreneur Lessons from “Mr. Ketchup” – H.J. Heinz

2 Lessons for Starting a Company from Henry John Heinz

Starting a company from nearly nothing seems to be the the American way.  Discovering a great idea, cultivating it and making a success seems to be the way many of our countries fondest figures rose to prominence.  Not through some great investment from a family member but through humble beginnings and heroic decisions.

H.J. Heinz is no different.  The man whose name has graced nearly every american table in the past 100 years in 57 different varieties or more has a very similar story.

Henry John Heinz - H.J. Heinz

#1 Heinz Lesson: Do Something You Love & Money Will Come

H.J. Heinz or “Harry” as his family called him was a young boy when his family settled on the south side of what is now Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.  Born to a brick layer and a religiously devote mother, H.J. quickly learned his passion.

At age 6, H.J. started helping his mother in the garden.  Spending hours often past dark in the garden, H.J. gained an appreciation for the purity of fresh vegetables.

At age 9, H.J. started selling his vegetables to the neighbors carrying a basket over his arm. Door-to-door H.J. learned selling, marketing and accounting to keep his business successful and his customers wanting more.

At age 10, his mother gave him 3 acres of land to garden himself. After a little time to learn the ropes of gardening on a bigger scale, H.J. graduated to a wheelbarrow to deliver his goods to the customers in town.

At age 12, H.J. worked 3 & 1/2 acres of land using a horse and cart for his 3 deliveries a week to grocery stories in the local towns.

At age 17 in 1861, H.J. was grossing $2,400 a year.  In 2009, that’s $56626.18 a year.  Pretty good living for a farmer with no formal education.

#2 Heinz Lesson: Quality is Your Reputation

In 1905 journalist Upton Sinclair published, “The Jungle“.  The Jungle highlighted the plight of working class Americans in the meat packing industry in lower Chicago during the turn of the century.

Upton Sinclair’s book was a commercial success and instantly created a public outcry for better government regulation on the food administration.  This book is the touchstone which started the argument for the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which launched the Bureau of Chemistry which later became the FDA.

But before the Pure Food & Drug Act of 1906 could be passed it had it’s day in public opinion just like our issues of today.  On one side you had the workers & customers on the other side you had a business owners & managers.

H.J. Heinz as a very influential man in the food industry during this time, took a very controversial approach.  He lobbyied on behalf of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.  H.J. sided with the workers & customers against his other business owners.

Similar to arguments of today, business owners didn’t want government regulation over them while they operated their business.

None of the gossip about the decision bothered H.J. Heinz because he knew what type of quality he expected from his own products.  H.J. was known for his over the top quality for the time.  He is quoted as saying, “We will never save pennies at the expense of our reputation.”

H.J. Heinz always knew that quality controls would make for a better product, happier customers and a more competitive market. It wasn’t simply about a low bottom line to H.J. Heinz, it was about making a quality product no matter the cost.

Thinking about Starting a Company?

If you consider starting a company like H.J. Heinz did, you should Read our interview with Bill PeltonMr. Pelton is a modern entrepreuner with a similar yet updated story.

He answers questions ranging from:

Bill Pelton explains his story about meeting the man who changed his life, why who you marry is the most important business decision you’ll ever make & how even being the #2 salesman in the nation doesn’t create job security.

If you’re thinking about starting a business & have read the interview with Bill Peton, ask yourself the 20 Questions before Starting a Business

For entrenpuer tools & information on starting a business check out http://www.ilostmyjob.com/Entrepreneur


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