The Dream Becomes a Reality

In 1946, Henry and his brother Leon founded the United Business Company, starting the business with a $5,000 loan. The company offered bookkeeping and other services to small businesses. After a disappointing few months, Leon left the business to return to law school, although Henry persisted.

Later, as the company began to grow, Henry published a help wanted advertisement, seeking to hire an employee. His mother responded to the ad, and recommended that Henry hire his brother, Richard. The two brothers became partners.

United Business Company’s primary focus was bookkeeping, with tax preparation offered as a courtesy to customers and friends. Shortly before the 1955 tax season, Richard and Henry decided to discontinue tax preparation services, which were not a significant source of revenue. But one of their clients, John White, offered what turned out to be momentous counsel. John, who worked in display advertising at The Kansas City Star, suggested that they advertise their tax preparation service. After much discussion, John finally persuaded them to run the ad twice, late in January 1955.

Henry was visiting customers on Monday after the first ad ran in The Kansas City Star. When he responded to a message to call the office, Henry found himself talking to a breathless Richard.

“Hank, get back here as quick as you can. We’ve got an office full of people!”

The ad, which was published shortly after many people had received their W-2 forms, uncovered an overwhelming need for tax services. And in Kansas City, the Internal Revenue Service had just discontinued its practice of preparing tax returns at no charge to taxpayers.

To achieve success as an entrepreneur, persistence is as important as ambition or intelligence.