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Tunnel Vision: It separates the mediocre from the empire builder.

J.F. (Jim) Straw
by J.F. (Jim) Straw

Have you ever wondered …

“What is the major difference between people making an extra $1,000 per month and those who are making the really big money?”

The answer is simple. — Well, maybe not so simple – but – over the years, I have observed that one of the greatest differences between those who achieve mediocre results … or no results … and those who start a small business and build an empire is that they have developed a …
Tunnel Vision Approach!

Although “tunnel vision” … represented by a closed-in and very narrow view of the objectives of the company; like looking through a tunnel …i s one of the curses of big, bureaucratic businesses, it is an absolute necessity for the beginning entrepreneur.

Too many people who want to become rich and successful never reach their goals simply because they do not develop a tunnel vision approach to their goal. Instead, they are constantly searching for that one perfect business; that one BIG deal, that will put them on Easy Street … overnight … for the rest of their life.

One week they are trying to get into the export business. The week after they want to own a franchise, or buy an apartment building, or start a mailorder business. Each new book they read creates a greener pasture for them to explore. They don’t miss out on trying any, and every, new opportunity. They manage to eke out an existence, or even achieve a modicum of success – but – they never make any real money.

Most of them keep their “day-job” while they explore opportunity after opportunity…never making a true commitment to any business…just dabbling in the business world; looking for that one big deal to give them “overnight success.” — If it wasn’t for their “day-job,” they…and their family…would starve to death.

The beginning entrepreneur who, on the other hand, develops a tunnel vision approach to making money usually makes it.

As an illustration, let me tell you a true story about my first successful full-time business…the business upon which I began building my empire.

Since the age of nine, I have been an avid reader of “how to make money” books. — Each time I read a new book, I discovered a new opportunity and chased around trying for a time to make my fortune in that field. The grass was always greener in this new pasture. After all, I had been trying my current business for a couple months and hadn’t yet made my fortune.

Back in the mid-1960s, as a result of some of my reading, and with my wife’s urging, I had opened a small retail Women’s Wig Shop. — There was supposed to be a real fortune to be made in that field.

In a few months, I had read another book and was ready to get started on yet another quick fortune. After all, I had opened the Wig Shop, like the “book writer” told me, and the world had not beaten a path to my door.

While I was explaining my proposed plans to my wife, she nearly floored me when she said, “Why don’t you just give up and let’s try to at least make a living from this Wig Shop.” (By the way, nobody ever becomes rich and successful until they “give up” and quit chasing non-existent rainbows.)

Her comment cut deep into my male ego. It intimated that I was less than a good provider and hadn’t really earned a living for us. It made me mad … mad enough that I told her, “All right, if that’s what you want, I’ll do nothing but run the Wig Shop. If it fails, we can starve together.”

In other words, I was going to show her that we couldn’t make it in the wig business. I would be right, and she would have to agree that we should have gone ahead with my latest plans.

Since I was no longer spending my time developing or investigating new plans, I had plenty of time to get involved directly in the sale of wigs in the shop.

In no time at all, I learned that I couldn’t answer the questions the customer were asking about the wigs. This led me to start reading everything I could about wigs. How they were made. Where they came from. The differences in construction. The tests of quality…what made one wig worth more than another. — All so I could answer the customers’ questions.

While I was learning these things, I also discovered that I was buying from third and fourth party dealers, and was paying entirely too much for my inventory…only allowing me a gross profit of from 25% to 40%. I found purchasing directly from the importers and manufacturers reduced my costs, and increased my profits.

Every time I got side-tracked and started working on a “new” project (outside the wig business), my wife would put it down by saying, “Look, we’re making money in the wig business. Let’s stay with it.” — Slowly but surely, with my wife’s urging, I developed that all-important tunnel vision.

To make a long story short, in less than three years I was one of the largest wig dealers in the southeastern U.S. My fortune was made. — I had bought a new Cadillac, a 14-room mansion with five bathrooms and a 20’x60′ swimming pool.

If you are now, like I was then, I can just about hear the comments running through your mind. — Hey, I’ve been there. I know what I was thinking at the time. — If your reasoning follows what mine was back then, your thoughts are probably something like this…

“If I put all my eggs in one basket, I could lose everything.”


“What if I get so involved in only one business that I miss that really big, one-time break that might come along?”


“What if the business only pays me a living wage? I’ll be trapped. I want to make a fortune, not just a living.”

Set your fears aside. If you develop and use a tunnel vision approach in any business, you will eventually make your fortune through a logical progression of accumulation, leverage and natural diversification.

I didn’t make my first fortune by only operating one wig shop. In less than six months, after I started really concentrating on, and dedicating my time to, the wig business, I had two shops, then three, then four. Each one producing more revenue, income and profit.

Then I discovered that I could buy-out whole wig shops that had bankrupted for pennies on the dollar and resell the inventory through my wig shops…at full retail prices. — I even exported some of the wigs…made in the orient…to wig dealers in other countries (at prices lower than what they would have paid if they had bought the wigs directly from the manufacturer).

Later, I began selling the bankrupted inventories to other wig dealers before I ever owned then. I didn’t even have the wigs shipped to me. I bought them on the West Coast, sold them on the East Coast, had them shipped direct, and pocketed the difference in prices. — In some cases, I just introduced the buyer to the seller and pocketed a fat finder’s fee…without ever buying or selling anything.

What I did was to take the techniques and ideas I had learned about in other businesses in which I had been involved and applied them, while staying within the scope of my tunnel vision…the wig business.

If you’ve been reading “how to make money” materials for any time at all…whether you realize it or not…you have soaked-up literally hundreds, upon hundreds, of business ideas, techniques and applications you can use in your business (no matter what that business may be).

As an example: At one time, I had thought about getting started in a “Party Plan” business. It didn’t pan out, but I applied the party plan idea to the wig business by going back to the party plan book and adjusting everything to fit my wig business.

It wasn’t unusual for one of my “wig parties” to produce from $300 to $500 in one evening. — More that a month’s salary back then.

Another book I had read told how a restaurant had increased its business by painting its building bright colors, adding banners and hand-painted signs.

So, I had the outside of one of my wig shops painted yellow, orange and red…using “day-glo” paint. The windows were painted red, green, blue and yellow in a carousel pattern. Hand-painted, brightly colored signs were everywhere…inside and out. — The business doubled overnight.

Reading about a novelty shop franchise, I had learned that they used a “loss leader”…an item they offered at cost; or less…to bring customers into the store.

Beauty salons in our area, at that time, were charging from $7.50 to $15 to style women’s wigs. So, wig styling became my “loss leader.” We did wig styling for $2…if the woman bought at least one wig from our shop.

When a woman left a wig for styling, or picked one up, we could show them new styles. They just kept buying. One lady bought over 50 wigs from us in less than 2 years. — We did all of her wig styling at $2 each…saving her a fortune in stying charges alone – plus – she was a walking advertisement for our wig shop and referred countless new customers to us.

Once I learned, developed and used a tunnel vision approach in my wig business, I made my fortune through a logical progression of accumulation, leverage and natural diversification.

“Natural diversification” catapulted me from a successful business as a wig merchant to world-renown as a writer, publisher, mailorder marketer, when I began writing articles about making money in a Wig Shop…for publication in trade magazines…then, getting paid to write similar articles for other wig merchants to help them market their wigs.

Throughout the years, I have observed that all successful business people have developed that all-important tunnel vision approach in their businesses.

So, the major difference between people making an extra $1,000 per month and the ones that make big money … the difference between beginning entrepreneurs who just eke out a living in business and those who build empires …i s that, those who succeed are those who develop and use a tunnel vision approach. The others keep thinking there has to be something else … better, more profitable … that they could be doing, so they keep looking-for it, instead of using what they have to achieve the success they want.

Give up on finding a better, more profitable opportunity. Apply yourself to the opportunity at hand…whatever it may be (selling my products, or somebody else’s). — Give-up spending your time developing or investigating new plans. — Make what you have work for you. Accumulate, leverage and diversify logically. — You won’t succeed in anything until you develop and use a tunnel vision approach in your business endeavors…as all successful business people have.

Having spent over 50 years in business, doing business successfully, J.F. (Jim) Straw now shares “Practical Instruction in the Arts & Sciences of Making Money” at the Business Lyceum. —

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