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From the HP Archives…

Original Business Plan 1937

Published 27 November 2008, 02:37 AM

Recently, I had a request to see HP’s original business plan, which was created in 1937. HP is famous, in a weird sort of way, for having a business plan in which “The question of what to manufacture was postponed until later in the discussion.” For Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the company itself was their most important product.

In fact, 50 years later, when asked what was his greatest accomplishment at HP, Bill answered not with the name of a product, but with the management style that he and Dave developed: “The HP Way.”

I’m not going to attach the whole business plan, which runs about three pages, but here are some choice excerpts from the document entitled “Discussion of August 23, 1937."

Subject: Tentative organization plans and tentative work program for proposed business venture.

PRESENT: Wm. R. Hewlett, N. E. Porter, D. Packard

The purpose of this meeting was to discuss and formulate the various ideas of the interested parties, and to lay the original plans for a proposed business in the radio, electronic and electrical engineering field. …

It seemed to be the general consensus of opinion that the work should be limited to manufacturing and merchandising of our own manufactured goods entirely. The question of what to manufacture was postponed until later in the discussion and the various methods of marketing were mentioned. Initially it seemed that direct to the customer sales should be followed as much as possible with sales to manufacturers a possibility for certain types of equipment. Selling through jobbers and retail stores seemed a good thing only if the business became large although selling directly through retail stores appears the best of the two. It was mentioned that the possibility of having a man to do servicing would be a good idea in that we might make some money from him and also have someone to do our service work as we got more equipment in the field. Servicing seemed a poor bet although it was felt that we should take what we got and that high priced jobs would be a good thing. Merchandising of other manufacturers' goods was accepted only as a means to the other end at the beginning.

Selling radios and manufactured equipment in general did not meet with much favor…
Phonograph amplifiers seemed to be a good lead…
Public address systems did not appear to be too good a field…
Radio transmitters seemed to be a fair field...
High frequency systems including receivers appeared to be a good possibility…
The welding equipment field appears to be very good…
Medical equipment seems to be a good field. …
It was felt that we should make every attempt to keep up with television since that would be a good thing if it broke in the near future….
The control equipment for air conditioning will offer some work for the present…
It was felt that capacity relays and P.E. relays might be of some commercial value in the near future. ...

The name of the company is to be tentatively
      The Engineering Service Co.
With the final decision to made by Oct. 1.

 The actual organization is to be a partnership…


Posted By ammancini | 3 Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink


Could you post the entire document if it's only 3 pages, or, direct us to where we could view/download it?  It looks very interesting.


# Wednesday, December 03, 2008 03:12 AM by

This seemingly crappy business plan is the foundation of the behemoth that is now HP. Amazing!

# Wednesday, December 03, 2008 04:43 PM by Donelle Gan

would you mind scanning the whole 3 pages and posting it?  this is classic history!


# Wednesday, January 21, 2009 06:40 PM by imran

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