How Ray Kroc Made a Fortune from McDonald’s

A box of french fries with the title How Ray Kroc Made a Fortune from McDonalds

Ray Kroc made a fortune on someone else’s idea. Even then, he had to overcome many obstacles, over a number of years, to find BIGG success.

We get informed and inspired by BIGG success stories. On The BIGG Success Show, we share one of our favorites. Below, you’ll find a summary of that story. Click the player to listen to the full story.

Ray Kroc is one of the most legendary entrepreneurs in history. He built McDonald’s into one of the world’s most iconic brands. But his destiny was anything but certain. And he was no young superstar. His success came slowly.

As a child

He was so prone to daydreaming that his parents nicknamed him “Danny Dreamer.”

He started his first business, a lemonade stand, while he was still in grammar school.

While he was a freshman in high school, he opened a music store. Unfortunately, he had to close it several months later.

He learned the art of the upsell while still in his teens working at his uncle’s soda fountain.

He dropped out of high school after his sophomore year.

As a young man

Ray Kroc lied about his age so he could join the Red Cross during World War I.

He drove an ambulance for the Red Cross. So did another young man in his unit – Walt Disney.

After the war, he became a paper cup salesman, by day.

He played the piano at night.

As his journey continued

Ray Kroc was completely wiped out financially after an attempt to sell land in Florida.

He went back to selling paper cups. He was 25 years old at the time.

Thirteen years later, he started a company that sold milkshake machines.

He struggled to make ends meet for seven years, until World War II ended.

He was rejected

Here’s one of our favorite parts of the story: The concept that became the McDonald’s that we know today wasn’t even Ray Kroc’s idea? The originators were his best customer, the McDonald’s brothers.

They had a uniquely successful hamburger stand. He approached them with one purpose in mind: To sell more milkshake mixers.

He suggested that they open more restaurants, using his milkshake machines. The McDonald’s brothers rejected his pitch.

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Success still came slowly

Ray Kroc suggested that the McDonald’s brothers license him their idea, so he could open the restaurants himself. But it wasn’t because he could see the potential of the fast-food business. He was still focused on selling more milkshake machines!

He nearly went bankrupt trying to get the restaurant business going. Along the way, he realized he needed more money. This prompted him to franchise his business.

He approached Walt Disney about putting a McDonald’s in his new amusement park, Disneyland. Walt Disney never responded to his pitch!

He overcame all these obstacles

Ray Kroc was 52 years old when he started McDonald’s. This was sixteen years after he started his milkshake machine business.

After all his work, after all this time, he finally reached the success he dreamed of with McDonald’s.

At the age of 59, he bought out the McDonald’s brothers for $22 million in today’s dollars. When he passed on, he was worth over $1.25 billion in today’s dollars, much of which was given away. Now that’s BIGG success!

Here’s to your BIGG success!

George “The Professor” & Mary-Lynn
signatures: George & Mary-Lynn
Co-Founders, BIGG Success

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