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Get in the Ring

Bury the Enemy

You don't have to be quiet about your attack. Maybe that's not your nature. It wasn't the approach Paul Hanlon, 43, took. Hanlon, author of Strategies of an Ordinary Multimillionaire: Simple Ideas to Achieving Magical Success (Paul Hanlon), made no secret of his desire to destroy his competition.

For more than a decade after founding Folio, a Massachusetts-based trade show exhibit company he sold four years ago, Hanlon watched competitors topple, simply because he hired away their top talent. "People want to work for companies that are totally committed to making the employee look good," maintains Hanlon, who for years wasn't the highest-paid employee at his own company. "My employees came first, my vendors came second, and my clients came third," he says. "I promoted it; I preached it; I fired clients who were abusive to my people." So top talent was more than happy to work for Hanlon, generating sales of $30 million and weakening his competitors.

But Hanlon stresses, "I didn't really put people out of business as much as they put themselves out of business."

He has a point. As long as you're not cutting competitors' phone lines or framing rival CEOs for murder, your guilt over putting opposing businesses out of business should be minimal. Because in the end, if you crush your competition, it means you did something right. And when you're running your halo-cleaning business in that great corporate world in the sky, curious entrepreneurs won't be sending a spiritual medium your way, only to shout, "What were you thinking?!"


Normally, Geoff Williams wouldn't even crush a fly. He's a freelance writer in Cincinnati and can be reached at gwilliams@cinci.rr.com.

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the October 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Get in the Ring.

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