The man who changed the way the world does business

Fred Smith is the entrepreneur who scored a ‘C’ on a school paper where he first drafted the idea of an overnight shipment delivery system. His professor thought that “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible”. So how did Mr. Smith transform his idea into a super-successful, multi-million dollar business?

Now more than 40 years down the lane, FedEx is the leading global courier delivery corporation, delivering more than 3 million packages to nearly 210 countries every working day. Fred Smith succeeded enormously despite the apparent “unfeasibility” of his idea.

Success Tips You Can Learn From Fred Smith

1. Don’t be afraid of criticism

In Fred’s own words, “Criticism doesn’t bother me. What we’ve tried to do inside FedEx is to say that criticism is a real opportunity to improve. When we do something wrong for a customer, that’s when we really have a chance to learn how to do things better.”

2. Enjoy what you are doing, take it easy and never give up

Enjoy what you are doing and don’t let bad experiences derail you from the road to success. Quoting Smith: “I’ve had all kinds of adversity, but I think you have to put those things in perspective.”

“I’ve enjoyed every bit of putting the company together. Even the bad parts I learned from. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, and I enjoy what I’m doing today. I enjoy running the company.”

“You’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing,  have some fun, and be able to laugh at yourself a bit.”

3. Adapt to the changing needs of the time

Adapt to the market changes and do what’s necessary to keep your business pushing ahead. In 1994 during the rise of the Internet, Fred introduced a service that allowed customers to coordinate their domestic deliveries via internet-linked computer software and a marketing service that provided businesses with an online catalogue of their goods directly linked to FedEx. When the economy went rough, he reduced his own salary and cut down advertisement costs.

“As time changed and markets changed and peoples’ expectations changed, we changed with them” says Smith.

4. Put people first

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One of the driving forces of Smith’s success was fostering a corporate culture where the workers are treated fairly, believing that it instills company loyalty and workers’ commitment.

“You can’t make people do what’s right. You can lead them, and you can empower them to make the right decision, but if you don’t produce a culture that allows them to do that, then all the rest is just bumping your gums as one of my old business partners used to say”  Fred remarked in one of his interviews.

He further said, “Our People, Service, Profit” philosophy insists that our people be treated fairly. If we give good service and we come up with a reasonable profit, we make that a good deal for our employees, with profit sharing, promotions, and complaint procedures. If you spend any time looking at the culture of FedEx you’ll find that PSP (People, Service, Profit) philosophy is the foundation of everything else.” And this leads us to the final point.

5. Be A Good Boss!

Fred worked hard at being accessible to his employees and to acknowledge their efforts. He often visited the FedEx headquarter site late at night, greeting many of the employees by name. He once published full page newspaper ads to thank the employees for their hard work when they had to process 800,000 additional packages after workers from a competing firm went on strike.

Fred Smith changed the way the world does business, when he was told it couldn’t be done. His reaction was simple, “I didn’t know I couldn’t do this”. FedEx now has 170,000 employees, hundreds of planes and thousands of trucks and is worth $16 billion!

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