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Bernie Marcus, Co-Founder of The Home Depot, Explains What it Takes to Start a Business After 50

Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, explained to Robert Reiss on The CEO TV Show, what it was like to have been a successful CEO of a company one day, fired the next for internal political reasons, and having to start all over again at the age of 50. Of course, now everyone knows what The Home Depot is but it, like every business, started out life with only a vision, a hope, and a prayer. But that wasn’t all; Marcus was also battling lawsuits from his previous company and had no money.

“Building a business is hard work, there’s no question about that,” Bernie Marcus explained. “But you also have to have luck, and you have to find people who you can trust. One of the ways you get both is finding and surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you are.”

Marcus said that in the early days of The Home Depot, he was never sure whether they were going to be successful or not.

“You have to remember – no one had ever built a store like The Home Depot before – it was huge compared to anything anyone was used to.  So we’d get up and go to work each day and do the best we could never really knowing if it would work.  All of the senior management was on the floor at some point each day talking to customers to take the pulse of the business.”

Could someone today do the same thing again in today’s market?

“Never say ‘never’, but it would be much harder. Back when we started, I could hire some of the best people because I could compensate them with less salary, but give them stock options as part of their compensation. And, of course, many of our early partners became very successful financially. Unfortunately, that game is now over with the regulations out of Washington making it very difficult to do.”

Find out more about  how former CEO Bernie Marcus succeeded as co-founder of The Home Depot in our video interview.


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About the Author: Robert Reiss

Robert Reiss is Host of The CEO Show, which features leaders who have reinvented industry through exceptional customer experience models. The show is nationally syndicated by Business TalkRadio Network. Click to hear podcasts of this and oth…

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