Why are some
businesspeople more successful than others? I'm ready to start
my own business, but I'm not sure I have what it takes. Any
Yours is a great question and something I've often pondered.
I've concluded that the best entrepreneurs know something that
mere mortals don't. Here are what I call The Seven Secrets of
the Great Entrepreneurs:
No.1: Be willing to take a big risk.
Entrepreneurship is, above all else, a risk. When you quit your
job to start a new business, there's no guarantee it will
succeed, let alone succeed wildly. When Bill Gates dropped out
of Harvard to start Microsoft, few people knew what a personal
computer was, let alone the software for it. Cookie stores were
nonexistent when Debbi Fields opened her first cookie store in
1977. If you'd asked Mrs. Field's back then if she thought her
company would have grown more than 700 stores, she probably
would've laughed the way others laughed. You often have to be
willing to look like a fool to succeed.
No.2: Dream big dreams.
Jeff Bezos saw something in the early 1990s no one else saw—that
the Internet was growing a thousand-fold every year, even though
back then, few had even heard of the Net. Great entrepreneurs
have a vision, and they cling to that vision even if no one else
sees what they see. His vision, Amazon.com, became not just the
earth’s biggest bookstore—it changed the world.
No.3: Value the customer above all else. This is another truth that Bezos lives by. To him and to Amazon.com, the
customer is king. The same is true for Richard Branson, founder
of the Virgin Group (Virgin Airlines, Virgin Music, Virgin Cola
and so on). Branson always tries to provide tremendous value to
his customers. For instance, he believed that many record stores
suffered because the shopping experience needed to be more
enjoyable and the staff needed to enjoy their jobs. Voilà!
No.4: Take care of your people.
This includes your employees, investors and stockholders. In
1913, Henry Ford wrote the following: "The wages we pay are too
small in comparison with our profits. I think we should raise
our minimum pay rate." Eight years later Ford, introduced the
first 5-day work week, "Every man needs more than one day for
rest and recreation." So too, P.T. Barnum, one of the great
entrepreneurs ever, was loved by his employees. He paid good
wages, shared profits and made many of his performers very rich.
As I said, entrepreneurship is a risk, and as such,
entrepreneurs often fail. Many entrepreneurs go bankrupt before
they hit it big, but they stick with it anyway. In 1975,
Microsoft revenues were $16,000, and it had three employees. In
1976, revenues were $22,000 with seven employees. Both years the
company posted losses. Many companies would've quit after two
years, but most companies aren't Microsoft.
No.6: Believe in yourself.
Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome and countless
other tools, was an unknown, unhappy man when he decided to kill
himself in 1927. But before he could, he realized his problem
had always been that he listened to others instead of himself.
Then and there, he decided to trust his own intuition. Before he
died, Fuller had revolutionized such disparate fields as
architecture, mathematics, housing and automobiles.
No.7: Have a passion.
Wayne Huzienga created Blockbuster Video, among many other
businesses. "I don't think we're unique, and we're certainly not
smarter than the next guy," says Huzienga. So the only thing I
can think of that we might do a little differently than some
people is we work harder, and when we focus in on something, we
are consumed by it. It becomes a passion," says Huzienga.