Seven Secrets of Great Entrepreneurs
Why are some business people more successful than others? I’m ready to start my own business, but I’m not sure I have what it takes. Any thoughts?
A: 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:
Secret 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.
Secret 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 biggest bookstore it changed the world.
Secret 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. VoilÃ ! Virgin Megastores.
Secret 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.
Secret No.5: Persevere. 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.
Secret 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.
Secret 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.