If betting the future of your company, the future of your family’s options to go to university, the future of your family’s ability to eat dinner in a week, on one product idea, sounds too crazy for you, then you are probably like 99% of the population. Yet, that 1% who are willing to risk it all, willing to put everything on the line for a chance at something more, deserve the rewards that they are given when they get it right. Robert R. Taylor was one such man and his exploits will ensure he goes down in history as one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time. If you are shaking your head in disagreement because you have no idea who Taylor is, then think again. Some of his best work is in your home today.
Taylor graduated from Stanford with an MBA in 1959 and within five years had started his own business selling bath products. He had an average level of success for many years but his approach to the market was both strategic and creative. He would sit around his dinner table at night with his family brainstorming ideas and product names and he knew how to compete in a market dominated by huge names like Johnson and Johnson, Proctor and Gamble and more. He aimed at niche products that they underestimated.
When his products prove a success though, the big players would release a similar idea and push him out of the market. By the late 1970s, Taylor was producing a respectable profit by creating new idea after new idea but nothing was incredible. Until Taylor thought of SoftSoap.
SoftSoap, in essence, was not a new idea. Liquid soap had been around for many years but the market had never warmed to it. Taylor realized this was because the containers were always unsuitable for the modern home. Prior to SoftSoap, they had always been packaged in dispensers to be hung on the wall.
Taylor created a dispenser that was an, easy to use, pump system, the one we all know today. He knew he had one issue though, the big competition. This was such a good idea that he couldn’t let the others push him aside again. He had a masterstroke idea.
After spending all of his money to fund the product, he waited for the sales to roll in. Once he had enough capital he purchased every dispenser pump that was available in North America for the next year. His competition couldn’t go after him. It was an incredible plan that was part brilliance and part luck to pay off. Either way, it was an incredibly brave move. Only brave people deserve to stand in first place at the end of a race, as they are the ones who risked it all. If Taylor had spent all of his money on this product and the competition had pushed him aside, he would have bankrupt the family and left them in ruins. History tells a much better story.