Penguin books, founded by Sir Allen Lane

Penguin books, founded by Sir Allen Lane

In 1935, Allen Lane was stuck at Exeter Station looking for a good book to read for his train ride, but all that he found were magazines and old Victorian era novels.

This dilemma got him thinking.

What if good books were more affordable, came in paperback form and were found not only in traditional bookshops, but in a wide range of retailers and even train stations?

Within a year, Lane had started Penguin Books and was selling books by Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie for sixpence.  Despite the cynicism of the established publishing industry, consumers bought his books in droves and Penguin Books sold 3 million books in their first year.

Sir Allen Lane’s company went on to revolutionise the publishing world and place affordable books in the hands of millions of people around the world, creating a remarkable empire in the process.

Do you want to create an empire and dramatically disrupt the industry you work in?

Do what Sir Allen Lane did:

Identify a frustrating problem – When he couldn’t find a book that he wanted, this annoyed Sir Allen, but he guessed correctly that he wasn’t the only one with this issue.

Utilise your expertise – Sir Allen’s background in publishing had positioned him perfectly to come up with a solution to the problem.  He just had to approach the problem from a different angle than the traditional publishers had in the past.

Take massive action – It would have been easy to complain that there were no books available and make sure that he packed an extra one next time he travelled, but this wasn’t enough for Sir Allen.  Instead, he had a brilliant idea for a product that would solve the problem and took the huge risk to start a company that eventually changed how books were bought all around the world, creating an empire in the process.

Now it’s over to you…

What problem frustrates you and others?

What expertise do you have or could develop?  

What are you willing to sacrifice so that you can take the massive action required to create your own empire?

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