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The Making Of Outlines. Part 3

When I was studying pharmacy at Troy, New York, my mother suffered from dyspepsia. She could not eat yeast bread, so I gave my attention to discovering a substitute. The result was my baking powder. I did not then contemplate its manufacture for sale, but in 1856 I began to make it in small quantities in my laboratory in Troy. I sold it only in bulk, and in a minor way, for several years; but the impression was growing on me that I had an article of real value in the household, and in 1861 I decided to go west where the opportunity would be better. I thought Chicago too big for my resources, so I selected Waukegan, Illinois.

I had $3,000 in cash, which had come to me through relatives. I rented a small building and began, for the first time, to make baking powder as a business. I was sure of my product, for it had proved itself countless times.

But against my own confidence was arrayed absolute indifference on the part of the public. My markets were wholly undeveloped, my name was unknown, and success was dependent on building up a desire for my product How to do this was the problem.

I reasoned that it was a case for demonstration. I would have to get people interested by showing them what my goods would do.

One day I put up a lot of samples in envelopes, each sufficient for one quart of flour, and went to Milwaukee. I visited all the hotels and left my samples with the cooks, without charge. Then I canvassed the principal grocery stores and distributed more samples, to be given away to customers. I talked with the grocers and told them that if they would follow the thing up, they would make money by it I explained the advantages of my product over the slow-rising yeast, and predicted a big demand as soon as housewives began to realize what it meant to them. Of course I did not dream, then, of the tremendous success that was to come, but I did feel sure of building a good business.

Within a few days I heard from the Milwaukee hotels. They wanted more of the baking powder. Orders from grocers followed speedily. Then I got out more samples, hiring men to distribute them. I began to circularize, too. I kept up both plans steadily, enlarging my sphere of action as the orders increased.

During the succeeding two years I made a little money, over operating and living expenses. Both of these items were extremely low. If I had not kept them down to bedrock, I could not have continued. I was resolved to keep the business within its income, no matter how low that income might be. But I continued pounding away at the trade and kept out of debt And all the time the orders increased.

In 1863 I decided that Chicago was the best field. The city, not the country, I had discovered, took most kindly to my article. So I moved my little plant there, and continued the same line of campaigns-samples, circulars, and personal solicitation. Five years elapsed before the business was established on a permanent and profitable basis.

Then, about 1868, I began advertising in the newspapers. I was cautious at first, though ultimately I spent three or four million dollars in space.

At the time I began to advertise, I had a partner who did not believe in this form of campaign. He thought it was throwing away money. As we could not agree, I bought him out To me, publicity had always seemed the logical way, provided it was consistent with the resources of the business itself. And newspaper space was merely an expansion of my circularization policy, on which I had largely built up the business. However, I did not believe in plunging. My great volume of publicity grew as the business grew. In my other and later enterprises - flavoring extracts and cereal foods - I have followed the same policy of working along the lines of least resistance. For example, if I found Texas the most susceptible to a campaign or product, I devoted my energies to Texas and left Chicago for a later period.

In 1891 I sold out for $1,500,000, but since then the consolidated companies have developed the field in an extraordinary manner, and have taken out of it in profits more in a year than I received for the business.

The underlying element in my success lay in having a product of real benefit to mankind, and in making the price low enough to be within the reach of rich and poor. My greatest obstacle was to convince people that my article really was a benefit. I would not have succeeded without confidence in my goods and patience and persistence, and a steadfast resolution to make every step pay for itself before I took another.

I believe that most men fail because they try to do too much. They are not satisfied to start in a small way, and to develop a business consistently. They begin with impossible expenses and a topheavy organization, and are swamped before they get their markets. And quite as important as anything, they are not content to live according to their business.

Note the good proportions of this narrative. Dr. Price is dealing with his start, not with his whole career. Another article on the same subject, written by David T. Abercrombie, is kept even more severely to the topic in hand. Mr. Abercrombie devotes two pages to his first year of business, and sums up his later career in a single sentence, thus: "My business grew fast, and in a few years the mail orders alone amounted to $800 a day."

Whether or not the paragraph shall correspond to a main division of your outline depends entirely on the proposed scale of treatment. Dr. Price's story is in fourteen paragraphs. Our outline for it had fourteen headings, though they do not exactly correspond to Dr. Price's divisions.

§ 15. Books divide into chapters; chapters into sections; sections into paragraphs. Articles divide into sections and paragraphs. Note two possible scales of treatment:

A book of forty thousand words. Chapter I (Definition Of Business English). Grain machinery: 10,000 words.

§1. binders ..............1,000

§ 2. reapers ..............2,000

§3. drills, seeders ........2,000

§ 4. fanning mills ..........2,000

§5. grain tanks ..........1,000

§6. wagons, racks ........2.000

An article of four thousand words.

§1. Gram machinery: ............1000

¶ 1. binders ................100

¶ 2. reapers .................200

¶3. drills, seeders..........200

¶4. fanning mills ..........200

¶ 5. grain tanks ............100

¶ 6. wagons, racks .........200

Chapter II. Corn machinery: 10,000 words.

§ 1. binders ..............4,000

§ 2. planters ..............2,000

§3. cultivators ...........3,000

§ 4. wagons, racks ........1,000

§ 2. Corn machinery: ..........1000

¶ 1. binders .................400

¶ 2. planters ...............200

¶ 3. cultivators ............300

¶ 4. wagons, racks .........100

Chapter III. Hay machinery: 10,000 words.

§1. mowers ..............2,000

§ 2. rakes ................2,000

§ 3. tedders...............2,000

§ 4. loaders ...............2,000

§5. ropes, forks ...........1,000

8 6. wagons, sleds ........1.000

§ 3. Hay machinery: ..........1006

¶ 1. mowers ...............200

¶ 2. rakes .................200

¶ 3. tedders ................200

¶ 4. loaders ................200

¶5. ropes, forks............100

¶6. wagons, sleds .........100

Chapter IV. All crop machinery: 10,-000 words.

§ 1. plows ................4,000

§ 2. harrows .............4,000

§ 3. discs .................2,000

§ 4. All crop machinery: ........1000

¶ 1. plows .................400

¶2. narrows ...............400

¶3. discs ..................200

There is a great advantage in making a sentence-outline. A mere word or phrase is vague, and it may lead to wandering. The sentence is definite, and will hold the writer to the point when he comes to expand it into a paragraph or a section. Besides, reducing vague thoughts to good sentences is mental analysis. It means pinning the writer down to his exact meaning. It enables him to see whether his outline hangs together.

The substance, the main propositions of any argument must appear in the outline. See page 140.

Be convinced. Be persuaded that the vague nebula of your thought about a subject should be condensed into a system by the construction of a sentence-outline. It means hard work at the beginning. It is much easier to pick up the pen and let your sentences sprout and grow like the gadding vine. But unless you have previously organized your thought, the result will be nothing but leaves.

A good outline should be so well organized that if you cut it it will bleed.


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