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MARSHALL FIELD on business philosophy, slow growth methods, good system, and success traits

Mar 5, 2013

Marshal Filed is a world renowned entrepreneur; he was the founder of Marshall Field and Company, the Chicago-based department stores. In a 1901 interview, compiled in ‘How they Succeeded: Stories of successful men told by themselves’, Field talked about his business philosophy, system, and success traits-a wonderful meditation for aspiring entrepreneurs.

We’ve said it many times before that a product that can stand on its own right and can altogether avoid the crowd is essential for success in business. You have to make, quality of product, a point otherwise nothing will work. In his wonderful book Purple Cow Seth Godin said: create something remarkable which echoes the MARSHALL FIELD’s 1901 interview:

I made it a point that all goods should be exactly what they were represented to be. It was a rule of the house that an exact scrutiny of the quality of all goods purchased should be maintained and that nothing was to induce the house to place upon the market any line of goods at a shade of variation from their real value. Every article sold must be regarded as warranted and every purchaser must be enabled to feel secured.

Perseverance and good judgment are two characteristics that you can’t ignore while running for success in business. Understanding a situation and working accordingly is critical. Similarly, building a sustainable business is a process. The importance of perseverance, good judgment, slow growing method, and good system for success in business is cited by almost all great entrepreneurs and successful people. Alexander G. Bell famously proclaimed, in favor of slow growth, that “You cannot force ideas. Successful ideas are the result of slow growth”  he also asked for perseverance in study for making things happen-"It is perseverance’ in the pursuit of studies that is really wanted” he added. Famous entrepreneur Rockefeller once said, in favor of perseverance, that-“It was early training, and the fact that I was willing to persevere”- that made my success possible. One of Rockefeller’s associates credited his foresight for his success which in turn can also be considered as good judgment. Marshall Filed credited good judgment and perseverance, slow growing method and good system for his business success:

If I am compelled to lay claim to such traits, it is because I have tried to practice them, and the trying has availed me much. I have tried to make all my acts and commercial moves the result of definite consideration and sound judgment. There were never any great ventures or risks. I practiced honest, slow-growing business methods, and tried to back them with energy and good system.

In our conversation with successful entrepreneurs of our age we often ask a question that seeks advices for young start-ups from successful entrepreneurs. In response to a similar question, that asked-"What do you consider to be the first requisite for success in life, so far as the young beginner is concerned?"- Marshal Field put importance on universal principles of human success- honesty, energy, frugality, integrity, for success:

The qualities of honesty, energy, frugality, integrity are more necessary than ever to-day, and there is no success without them. They are so often urged that they have become common-place, but they are really more prized than ever. And any good fortune that comes by such methods is deserved and admirable.

Compliment with Fazle Hasan Abed on Frugal innovation, Walt Disney on Entrepreneurship: Thoughts on biggest obstacle for entrepreneurs, quality, & farsightedness , and How to be successful: 9 rules for success from British Novelist Amelia E. Barr

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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at

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